Customer Information Management

More data is good — but only if there's a data management strategy

Opportunities may lie within a business’s data stockpiles, but they’ll be hard to capitalise on without good management

Call it “the Data Crave.” Companies want to generate and gather more and more of it, and technology advances like Hadoop®, a free, Java-based programming framework that supports the processing of large data sets, have made it easy for them to process as much data as they like quite economically.

Some businesses take a highly targeted approach to their data buildups, collecting specific information they know will boost their customer engagement, sales and service missions. But many others are stocking up big data lakes with far less precise information. Their guiding principle is to create whatever data they can and capture whatever there is “because there must be opportunities in it,” says Andy Reid, global product marketing specialist at Pitney Bowes.

Indeed, in an age when mobile apps, social networks and the Internet of Things — where everyday objects have sensor capabilities, compute power and connectivity that allows for data sharing — make it possible for enterprises to breed data at scale, the opportunities to use information to invigorate the business are vast. According to a Business Application Research Center (BARC) study, companies with Big Data initiatives report advantages, including the ability to make better strategic decisions (69 percent), improve control of operational processes (54 percent) and better understand customers (52 percent). Companies able to gauge these benefits in numbers reported an average 8 percent increase in revenues.

More data requires better management

Not all the data companies create and collect will make its way into analytical models. But businesses do need to focus on how they will ensure the utility of the data that will ultimately help inform their decisions. This is particularly true of the data that will play a role in analysing customer relationships, sales, services and other facets of the client experience.

Driving usefulness as an increasing amount of data is generated and captured raises the bar on dealing with the four V’s of Big Data: volume, velocity, variety and veracity. A solid customer information management strategy for dealing with these Big Data issues must include plans for — and technologies to — aggregate, cleanse, federate, enrich and govern expanding stores of information. Only then will the data be able to be trusted, accessible and analysable, while its integrity is assured, its function is enhanced and its employment is appropriately regulated.

For example, when data quality can be assured, the business gains the advantage of customer records that can be trusted. Data can be relied on by sales, marketing and customer service, and be made available to analytics and reporting systems with a high degree of confidence. When it can be processed and integrated in real time, the business gets the benefit of speed of knowledge over competitors that are targeting the same customers. When it can be enriched with international location-aware intelligence, the business can target customers for area marketing campaigns or sales events with increased accuracy.

Today’s businesses have the opportunity to position themselves not just to be data-makers and data-takers, but also data-awakeners. That is, they can turn once isolated, raw and potentially conflicting pieces of information into precise and cohesive assets that can be leveraged to grow customer knowledge and build tighter client relationships — all while protecting buyers’ confidential information and contributing to business growth in many more ways.