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Driving Digital Transformation Through Modern Master Data Management

Ankur Gupta, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Reltio

Digital Strategy is not a separate strategy, but instead a new lens on the overall business strategy that incorporates customer intelligence, sales & service optimization and digital marketing efforts (e.g. mobile, e-commerce and social). Key drivers of digital transformation among B2C organizations are profitability, customer satisfaction and increased speed to market. Whether you are a retailer, restaurant, travel company, media & entertainment company, lifestyle brand, or a consumer bank, you want to create a seamless, personalized and consistent customer experience across all channels (web, email, phone, stores) and departments (marketing, sales, support).

However, personalization is a double-edged sword. All digital transformation and personalization efforts would fail if data underneath is of poor quality, siloed and delayed. According to an estimate, poor customer experiences result in an estimated $83 billion loss by U.S. enterprises each year because of defections and abandoned purchases. On the contrary, if done correctly, it can considerably boost your business (Amazon’s conversion to sales of on-site recommendations could be as high as 60%). Some of the top of mind issues discussed during various sessions included:

Garbage in – garbage out. 

Today, hyper-personalization is possible because of digital transformation enabled by cloud, mobile, big data, internet of things and many more cutting-edge technologies. Similarly, companies have invented great processes (order-to-cash, supply chain management, onboarding, provisioning) to manage customers, prospects, suppliers and partners. What’s still not treated as a top priority is the quality of data driving these processes.

Omnichannel initiative of any consumer brand is as good as its underlying data. A reliable data foundation alone, created through a Modern Data Management Platform, can lead to a truly personalized engagement,” said Ramon Chen, Chief Marketing Officer of Reltio, during the panel discussion, “Lessons from Lifestyle Brands: Omnichannel Marketing and Strategy.

The thought was echoed by other participants who discussed how reliable data is the key to effective customer experiences.

Data silos within the organization.

Being able to understand and monitor end-to-end consumer journey is vital. Yet, it is not uncommon for each team or function within an organization to define and measure customer experiences independently, in isolation. The result is disconnected global operations, fragmented multichannel visibility and incomplete views of customers that slow down all digital transformation efforts. Data-driven applications built on a Modern Data Management platform gives you not only the 360-degree view of your customers, products, channel partners, or suppliers but also a contextualized view of relationships among these entities. More importantly, it helps you create a single-source of truth across sales, marketing and support to provide the right customer with the right offering at the right time, thus enhancing the customer experience.

Data silos across organizations.

Co-innovation, co-creation and collaborative curation of consumer information, at a big data scale, can open the door to new possibilities. For example, personalized recommendations for food, movies, hotels and shopping can be packaged together for a particular consumer if the companies in these different industries are willing to share data with each other. Furthermore, such data exchange helps these non-competing business entities to monetize their precious consumer data assets. As digital touchpoints proliferation continues, a Modern Data Management solution will help companies to trade reliable data currency in a secure fashion.

Business outcomes don’t feed the underlying master data.

There are no mistakes, only lessons. It is critical to get smarter with each interaction. A Modern Data Management Platform coupled with Machine Learning enables contextual information and helps you answer high-impact business questions such as – Will my customer buy this product or not? Is this review written by a customer or a robot? Which category of products is most interesting to this customer? And so on. On top of that, a Modern Data Management solution captures all actual business outcomes and enriches the master data in a closed-loop, thus continuously fueling the recommendation engine for making smarter predictions.

It’s time for data to be managed in such a way to make true digital transformation happen. Once Modern Data Management is in place, a consumer brand can reap substantial benefits on a continual basis. Starting with proper data quality and alignment of key data assets across systems, departments and channels, it helps build a reliable data foundation for all your digital transformation initiatives. Businesses who will timely address this challenge will be ahead of the competition.

The Ever Elusive Customer 360

Most organizations have recognized that attempting Customer 360 within a CRM application is a road to nowhere.  CRM cannot be the single-source-of-truth for all customer data. Companies still spend tons of consulting time, add dozens of fields to the lead, contact and account objects, install multiple add-on applications in the hope of getting there. Although some people have bought into Master Data Management (MDM) as a panacea, others still keep trying to push the boundaries of CRM. There are many reasons why. Most would say they aren’t able to afford the cost, complexity and IT resources required by traditional legacy on-premises MDM tools.

Top three reasons that come to my mind as to why extending CRM for Customer 360 doesn’t work are:

1.       The assumption that my Customer 360 view is same as yours – No it’s not. 360 view does not mean that dump all the customer data into one application page. It is more about the context than about the content. It is about providing all the relevant customer information to the user, based on user’s role and the task at hand. So, the 360-degree view for a sales rep visiting a client is different from 360-degree view of marketing manager doing segmentation for a campaign and is different from a call center agent trying to resolve a service issue.

2.       Ever increasing sources of data – The Customer 360 view is evolving, expanding – never static. It’s not just the customer profile and interaction data. Now we also want to include information from financial, logistics, support, and training systems. We also wish to understand customer preferences, relationships, sentiment from social networks. And we want to capture location data and data from connected devices. Capturing every single piece of information in CRM for a complete Customer 360 view is not a viable option. CRM is not designed for that.

3.       Duplicate and inaccurate data – Today’s CRM systems provide data cleanup to some extent. For high volume data management with cleaning, matching, merging, unmerging, verification of data while maintaining full audit trails, status, and lineage, where compliance gets into the equation, CRM falls short. With multiple high-velocity data streams, it is very hard to keep up with data maintenance. Data quality is the biggest issue that any sales and marketing department has. Moreover, many medium to large organizations have multiple CRM systems, so creating a single view of a business entities across CRM systems becomes challenging.

Although many acknowledge the value, MDM hasn’t fulfilled the promise either. Apart from the fact that it is expensive and complicated, it leaves the transactions and insights to other systems. Many MDM systems have not yielded the business value commensurate with millions of dollars in investment. We need to think beyond traditional MDM to get to a true Customer 360.

Imagine a Modern Data Management Platform as a Service that eliminates the complexity and helps build industry-specific, role-specific contextual data-driven applications, quickly. Specially designed to consolidate data from all internal and external sources, applications built on Modern Data Management platform support an infinite number of attributes and relationships, and provide contextual, personalized insights using big data scale analytics, enabling a Customer 360 that meets the role and goals of the user requiring the information.

What are the issues you come across that prevent you from having a realistic Customer 360 view? Would love to hear from you.

Your Salespeople are Your Data-driven Advantage

Most enterprises understand the need to provide their commercial teams with timely and accurate information. We’ve all seen the metrics where a wrong address or incorrect email can lead to wasted time, inefficient operations and poor customer satisfaction.

It’s why billions of dollars are spent every year acquiring information from third-party data sources to enrich information, and even more is spent on IT efforts to reconcile and master that data across countless internal data sources. In many cases, there are even outsourced services that have legions of data stewards that “dial for accurate data”.

Interestingly your field teams, such as sales and account managers who have regular contact every day with customers and potential prospects, encounter the most up-to-date information as a course of their normal activities. Those that decide to update that information in their CRM systems typically make a mess of the database, leading to duplicates and inconsistencies that master data management solutions are then tasked to clean up.

More importantly, beyond the accuracy of name, address and phone number, these field teams encounter interesting affiliations and relationships that are almost never available through third-party vendor data. Again those that are willing to provide that information back to their CRM applications hit a dead end because those applications are simply not equipped to handle complex relationships. They may be as diverse as person-to-person, person-to-organization, product-to-organization, location, price and other real world elements.

And even if they are able to capture some of the details the affiliation is often considered “soft” (e.g. hearsay vs. fact) and cannot be verifiable via back office data stewarding.

Here’s where a new breed of data-driven applications with built-in Modern Data Management can help. These applications provide frontline business users with a way to contribute new and updated data, all at their fingertips using mobile devices of their choice, including their smartphones! The information can be routed to data stewards through workflow, or simply left as “soft contributions” in the system. Meaning that no facts are changed, but valuable data is captured. The value of that information is then subject to the power of social collaborative voting, much like you would see in that of business or restaurant review on Yelp. The power of crowd self-governs the accuracy and effectiveness of the information provided.

This form of collaborative curation delivers a combination of high quality up-to-date facts, with softer but yet still valuable data that is self-governed. With some enterprises having tens of thousands of feet on the street, the quality of the data they can contribute back to the mothership can be better than information purchased through a third-party source. In those scenarios companies may even have the option of monetizing their data without really trying.

As companies move to reduce costs by laying off salespeople due to reduced demands for face-to-face interactions, those that continue to have ongoing contact with customers and prospects become even more valuable, not just to sell product and close deals. Armed with a new breed of data-driven applications, they just might be your most valuable data-driven asset and competitive advantage.