From Home to Social: The Evolution of Your Customer Data

March 27, 2010
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Here’s how it goes down. An executive decides that his company needs a “social media strategy.” Along the way someone, probably a director, concludes that the company should start collecting and analyzing social media data. And link it back to customers. Someone uses the word “community” and someone else says “social engagement” and everyone gets really excited and calls the business intelligence team. And this is where it gets ugly.

“They won’t even fund more storage space so that we can monitor purchase history!” says a beleaguered DBA. “And now they want detailed profiles of all our Facebook fans? Whatup?”…




 

 

Here’s how it goes down. An executive decides that his
company needs a “social media strategy.” Along the way someone, probably a
director, concludes that the company should start collecting and analyzing
social media data. And link it back to customers. Someone uses the word “community”
and someone else says “social engagement” and everyone gets really excited and
calls the business intelligence team. And this is where it gets ugly.

“They won’t even fund more storage space so that we can
monitor purchase history!” says a beleaguered DBA. “And now they want detailed
profiles of all our Facebook fans? Whatup?”

Whatup indeed.

You can’t blame business executives for thinking big.
Carping at them for underestimating the complexity of data integration doesn’t
help much either. But when it comes to telling the truth about what customer
data exists, let’s just say we’re entitled to a little finger-wagging. And it
actually feels pretty good to do it, too.

What executives need to see is a natural and rigorous
evolution of enterprise data about customers. They need to understand that product
managers in marketing still can’t view the entire set of a customer’s products
and services on one screen. They need to wrap their brains around the fact that
to be successful with target marketing or segmentation, a customer’s name,
address, and birth date simply don’t cut the mustard.

The diagram below starts from the inside out. It paints the
picture for executives that customer data is evolution and not revolution and
that—as with most successful business accomplishments—it involves a deliberate approach.
A customer who doesn’t exist can’t buy a product. You can’t mail the customer
an offer if you don’t know where he lives. A customer can’t abandon a shopping
cart if she isn’t in the store. You get the idea.

 

 

I know what you’re thinking. This is too simple. Now think back to when you’ve tried to explain
the importance of structured business requirements processes or logical data
models to your executives. Now accept the word “simple.” Make friends with it. Kiss
it on the lips.

The strategic value of integrating social media behaviors
into a high-value customer’s profile notwithstanding, our business leaders need
to understand that delivering customer data is incremental, and that ultimately
the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. And, like the deployment of
data, investment in that data should also be incremental. And, when done right,
information that’s meaningful, clean, and re-usable represents nothing less
than a competitive advantage.