People 'n' Issues

Managing data for a single customer view

March 10th, 2016
Companies need to examine whether they are capitalising on the technology at their disposal to gain a single customer view or if they are missing out on key opportunities, writes PETR HAVLIK, MD of CyberPro Consulting.
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Master Data Management (MDM) has a critical role to play for companies looking to gain a single view of a customer. With the New Year well underway, organisations need to start examining whether they are effectively capitalising on the technology at their disposal to achieve this view – or whether are they missing out on key opportunities.

According to a survey undertaken by Gartner, 89 of respondents believed that customer experience will be a primary basis for competition by 2016. Well its 2016 now, so businesses need to pay attention to their customer’s needs if they want to remain competitive – and a good place to start is through MDM – as MDM provides a common language to all the data that a business deals with.

So what does this mean?  Well, firstly, MDM is very business-focused; as opposed to a pure technology-driven approach.

Previously larger companies have struggled with silos of data that exist within the organisation, as it becomes very difficult to consolidate data, especially when divisions inside the business have different approaches around data management. So this meant that in the past, companies relied on customer relationship management to try gain a consolidated view of their customers. However, today a more effective approach is to examine a dedicated MDM strategy that seeks to combine data quality and matching, as well as integration into the source system – all strung together with a golden thread that will unify all information inside the organisation.

Ultimately, it boils down to gaining an understanding of a customer – to present data into a business format, one that actually works for the organisation. The present reality that exists, is that if you phone your bank, for example, many will not have a common view of you, as a customer. So the credit card division might have one view of you, while the home loan department another – which can cause frustration and wasted time.

The good news, however, is that the move to embracing this single view of the customer started in earnest for most large enterprises around five years ago. Unfortunately, many organisations are still struggling to fully realise the value of these projects.

Which leads to my point on MDM, as it can offer a consolidated report of a customer’s needs to a business all while, allowing the organisation to cross-sell and upsell tailored solutions to a customer – which can be very valuable to an organisations ongoing growth and ability to remain sustainable in a very competitive marketplace.

However, like all solutions, to capitalise on its benefits correctly, companies need to understand the data they actually have. This means ensuring data is kept clean and up-to-date, as well as keeping data synchronised across all divisions. Traditionally, this had to be done with a lot of custom software development and human intervention, but thanks to MDM, it can now be automated, although it still requires a substantial commitment to get right.

Of course, if you want MDM to work effectively, the data quality has to be there, given that MDM strives to match all the data in the organisation and define a golden record (which is one master data set of a customer, supplier, and so on).

So, while MDM can deliver value, the value is underpinned by its ability to understand a customer and the relationship that person actually has with the company. This means that in 2016, where customer understanding and value is a priority for many organisations – MDM can provide the organisation with the ideal way to get ahead – so what are you waiting for?

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