In this article I take my first walk around using a BIG DATA private-cloud data-mart for marketing and comment on what it’s actually like as a marketer to be armed with a ‘single-version-of-the-truth’ when it comes to customer insights.
I’ve spent my career as a business-to-business marketer being (one of) the last to leave the office because THE NEXT marketing activity required data in a certain sort, form and quality that required me – and often my willing team – to stay behind and fix all of the wrinkles that fall out of exporting data from operational systems like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Contact Management (CM) or Intranet repositories.
The marketing industry has spent a life-time grappling with poor quality data from operational systems and using it for a different purpose to what it was intended. The vision of CRM and other systems was to create a ‘single-view-of-the-customer’. Great. Or at least it would be great if systems didn’t change, acquisitions didin’t happen and marketers only wanted to use data that exists within the organization. But this is the real-world, and in the real-world all of these factors impact on marketers to stretch their day.
Thankfully, the advent of cloud computing – and applications platform technologies like ENCANVAS – happily means that nowadays marketers don’t need to rely on operational systems to form their customer data-mart into a single view of the customer. Private-cloud data-marts are a new form of technology solution to the age-old problem of how to create a nice, neat bundle of customer data that marketers can get their knife and fork into without first having to herd cats.
Sometimes falling under the all conquering umbrella of BIG DATA, CRM private cloud data-marts are a secondary layer of glue-ware: Instead of creating a ‘new system’ and yet more data entry screens, CRM data marts harvest data from existing operational systems and website to build a holistic view of the customer and market landscapes. Data is securely uploaded to the cloud using Business Process Management and Workflow tooling (in the case of Encanvas it’s called INFORMATION FLOW DESIGNER), and as it’s harvested, clever algorithms are applied to the data to correct all of those horrid things that marketers usually have to spend their time manually correcting in unwilling spreadsheets – missing postal codes, incorrect salutations, duplicate records, invalid email addresses and telephone numbers. These algorithms cut a huge chunk of workload off of the marketers’ average day-job and can even cope when salespeople do ther inexplicable data entry faux pas like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
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Services like USTech Solutions’ Big Data Skunkworks mean that marketers are able to get up and running with their truly holistic view of customers remarkably quickly and start to show their metal by doing the great things that marketers joined the profession to do rather than the tedious data crunching stuff that drives them to distraction.
SO YOU WANTED A SINGLE VIEW OF YOUR CUSTOMERS – WELL NOW YOU”VE GOT ONE! SO WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH IT?
I’ve only been experiencing the impact of CRM data-marts through ENCANVAS deployments over the last few months and so (even though I’ve been waiting for 20-years to see the day!!). I’m only now getting my hands on the sort of data and tools that I dreamt of as a spotty marketing assistant back in the day. The results I’ve experienced have so far been outstanding (I may well up!). Using the interactive charting and mapping tools that are available now to marketers in CRM data-mart platforms it’s now possible to dive into views of data presented in charts or maps and see the related records below to see the detail. It’s also possible to click on the data that DOESN”T have an email, that DOESN’T have a scheduled reminder or scheduled follow-up – so action can be taken to act on what’s missing by resolving the poor working practice. One can even filter the source of poor quality data to an original system, sales team or sales person! There’s nowhere to hide for poor quality or incomplete data.
Having the ability to identify patterns and buyer behavior segments is proving extremely useful. Having defined rules in the system of what constitutes a BAND A customer. or a BAND B customer, the platform will again manage these rules so that, any time a customer inherits these characteristics, they pop into the appropriate group. Customer data can then be analyzed, sorted, formed into campaign lists (or whatever) by adding this additional ‘filter’. From a practical perspective this means that marketers can be far more granular with their campaign straegies; they can select customers with or without certain data attributes, by band, by location, by date last contact, by income, by spend, by shopping behavior – gosh it’s fun!!!
Another factor that feels like it’s taking a load-off happens when I see poor quality data and I want to tackle it. Instead of having to export ALL of the records that have no email address or no Cell/SMS number, I can now concentrate efforts on tackling the BAND A customers that have no email and make sure the most likely sources of business impact are handled first. Very handy.
One thing I wasn’t expecting is that the data in the cloud data-mart is consistently good even when the data held in sourcing systems remains poor. This is because the extraction tools that automate the population of the CRM data-mart cloud will install sorting, de-duping, cleansing and enriching treatments not just once but everytime a data upload takes place. This means that if you’ve instructed the platform to look through your emails and kill any non-conforming data, it does so every time the source data is uploaded – so the result is the cloud always stays PURE.
Does this mean the world of the marketer has changed forever? Not on a base level; the same old instincts, methods and skills apply. What is different is the IMPACT pragmatic marketing can make on business POWERED by private-cloud CRM data-marts. It’s and accelerator to marketing innovation. Of course it also saves me LOADS of time by not having to be knee deep in dodgy data which now allows me to go home at the same time as my sales colleagues that were probably the folk who put the poor quality data in the CRM database in the first place!! Thanks guys – I forgive you (now).