In an operating environment marked by transparent markets and rising global competition, the customer has undoubtedly become king. A 2017 Salesforce survey revealed that the two biggest challenges faced by organizations today are meeting customer expectations and reacting appropriately to shifts in market demand.
For the most part, businesses have responded to these issues by implementing varying levels of digital transformation across their front and backend processes. These strategies encompass everything from setting up ERP and WMS systems within supply chain functions to leveraging social media platforms and mobile applications to their make marketing and sales more accessible for users.
Technology Alone Isn’t a Competitive Differentiator
While technological investments may help establish your brand amongst a growing stable of forward-thinking organizations, they can only produce lasting ROI when accompanied by a comprehensive reporting and analytics framework. Take a look at industry leaders like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, and Tesla. You’ll see that they all share an obsessive dedication to understanding their audience and creating personalized offerings that seamlessly meet the demands of each individual.
This outward-in strategy is built around a robust reporting and analytics framework that draws data from varied sources both within and outside the organization. From real-time user behaviors tracked through website analytics to lead lists and sales histories gathered from CRM systems to sentiment analyses drawn from customer service channels and review aggregators, each touchpoint creates a wealth of data that can be used to create end-to-end customer experiences.
Unfortunately, insights are all-too-often hidden behind siloed systems that are only accessible to specific functions. If they want to create cohesive business strategies that translate across multiple channels, businesses need to consolidate their disparate datasets and move them into a centralized repository that can provide a complete view of prospective and current customers across all targeted market segments.
Creating a 360 Degree Customer View
Traditionally, these objectives have been served through a system of records (SOR). This architecture served as a hub for all data relating to a specific business function. Once consolidated, inputs were combined to provide a more insightful look into the underlying process.
Unfortunately, the SOR of old was often limited to a single platform, i.e., Salesforce for sales data, HubSpot for marketing information, 3PL for logistics, and supply chain. While accurate, the picture provided by these systems often lacked a greater business context.
As a result, a far more holistic approach was required to achieve the ever-elusive 360 view. That’s where the concept of a golden record becomes so essential. A golden record consists of cleansed, validated, and merged data collected from disparate platforms both within and outside the enterprise. Data extraction from each of these sources is automated to ensure minimum lag time between the receipt of information into each operational store and its delivery into the golden record.
Ultimately, the 360 view acts as a “single source of truth” that offers significant advantages over the SOR.
- Matching data from different sources removes duplicated and contradictory data so that a definitive customer profile is available for decision-makers across the enterprise.
- A 360-degree architecture is time-sensitive and touchpoint-sensitive; it provides an account of when and how customers interact with your brand, which channels they prefer to use, and where their last-known engagement occurred. With this information at hand, organizations can build a complete map of their buyer’s journey.
- As new data filters in from each source platform, it is updated dynamically in the golden record, so the customer 360 is always as current as possible from every possible perspective.
- The 360-view encompasses external data such as market trends, 3rd party reports, and public statistics to supplement internal sources. These inputs provide context for customer decisions and help organizations make macro-level decisions with far greater certainty.
- This system is designed for enterprise-wide accessibility. The goal is to allow workforces must to derive insights from data based on their functional concerns.
Automating Data Integration in Your Customer 360
Ultimately, the biggest obstacle to creating the 360 view isn’t data extraction from disparate sources, the subsequent validation and cleansing of data, or even consolidation in an accessible repository – it’s the time, resources, and expertise required to design and deploy these processes from start to finish.
Here are just some of the challenges that can arise during a manual implementation:
- Each siloed system will house data in a unique format and layout. Connecting to these sources and linking extracted datasets with those from other functions requires a considerable amount of technical skill.
- A data steward will need to be appointed to oversee the transfer of data in line with applicable governance policies.
- Processes will need to be put into place to ensure updates and changes to source systems are transferred to the 360 view as quickly as possible. Otherwise, records will become outdated. Again this will require significant intervention from your IT team.
- Data may be duplicated in different organizational silos, and there could be inconsistencies between these records, or they may be formatted differently. In these cases, the master record will need to be identified and missing or erroneous entries removed.
- The timeliness of data may differ from system to system, which will hamper the accuracy of the 360 view. So, the duration of updates for each silo will need to be verified, and these details will need to be accounted for when designing manual integration flows.
The best way to overcome these issues is by leveraging an enterprise data integration solution to support each aspect of your customer 360. To get insights, watch this in-depth webinar on the topic to find out how businesses can practically deploy this approach in their data architecture. The webinar will discuss the topic using the case of an auto insurance provider that employs the data integration software to build an automated data pipeline for providing a comprehensive, real-time view of customer data.