Mindset_Not_Toolset.pngJon Singleton is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of DatumLabs. He has almost two decades of experience designing and implementing database solutions across multiple platforms, for Fortune 500 companies including Automotive, Healthcare, Pet Nutrition, Digital and Direct Marketing Agencies, Technology, Finance, Sports and Retail.

UnboundID: Many companies are striving to gain a single view of the customer or close to it. What are the data management challenges behind this?

Singleton: It requires a master data management (MDM) process. Implementing MDM in an enterprise is really hard, which is why people don’t want to do it. The challenges stem from the systems they use to compliance needs and defined IT processes. It’s not just the data itself but dealing with the processes that protect the data and manage the data’s movement. When you deal with decision-makers to get budget, they often think about MDM as an out-of-the-box solution, but MDM is not just a toolset. It is a mindset and a combination of processes applied across the enterprise and different data stores to accomplish the MDM goals. Clients with the most success focus on what they want to accomplish, and how can they set things up from a data standpoint to accomplish that. Once they talk through those factors and determine what they want for ROI, selling internally becomes a lot easier.UnboundID: What are consumer companies trying to do today: achieve precise segmentation of closely aligned users or true individualized marketing?

Singleton: Most companies are looking at segmenting groups of users. It’s a lot harder to target individuals, but once they have those groups established they can go back and retarget individuals. Companies often want to do one-to-one marketing but they may not have the data to do that. It’s fine to drop someone’s name into an email but that is not true relevancy. So the struggle is figuring out how to get the data to be more relevant and achieve truly personalized marketing. One requirement is that you must be able to integrate the appropriate systems. For instance, retailers could tie into point-of-sale systems and match up that data to the CRM. In other cases, it might be integrating data from email, social media and the website. It’s definitely possible but it takes some time.

UnboundID: Is it getting any easier to do this level of targeting?

Singleton: It’s becoming easier to do this, not only from the technology that’s out there but also the learned behavior of marketers to automate campaign triggers so that it’s not as labor-intensive nor costly to market to a single person. A company can implement this process programmatically and still instill a personal feel with their customers.

We have been working with a small physician’s group to do individualized marketing. They are ready because they now have the data in place to combine and proactively reach out to patients. They can send messages saying, we know that you are undergoing this treatment plan, here’s more information, and this is when you should come in next. The size of the brand doesn’t really matter. It’s the willingness and ability to collect the data. A lot of marketers get hung up thinking that this is going to be too hard. We try to advise clients to look beyond the barriers of existing technology.

UnboundID: Any advice as to how to select or build your core customer and operational systems, in order to ease the integration challenge?

Singleton: Selection is very important, but we don’t always have the luxury of getting in on the ground floor to help clients choose systems. Large brands have acquired or built a lot of systems so what they need to do is to evaluate what they have, decide on the goal and determine the best software solution for complete integration. It’s important to build the foundation for an organized, structured data storage solution that can support the entire business. This is difficult for large companies because IT groups tend to be protective of what they have built or managed over the years. It takes a lot of stakeholder support to drive these initiatives and get the buy-in from the bottom up. There is not one roadmap. It’s really about looking at the data and systems in place and the volume of data they collect and store. The goal is to ensure that the infrastructure in place will support whatever the business wants to do down the road.

UnboundID: Your company works in healthcare among other industries. How are best practices different in healthcare for collecting and using customer data for marketing purposes?

Singleton: One major hurdle is that a lot of healthcare software was written in the ‘90s. These systems are driving operations and can’t be changed easily. Integrating data and systems is quite tricky as a result. Another issue is HIPAA compliance and security overall. The process is still the same though: assessment and understanding of the kind of data you need. That determines levels of security. It’s critical to get this right, because fines can go upwards of $200 per record if you are not compliant.

UnboundID: But haven’t Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Meaningful Use requirements in healthcare resulted in a turnover from legacy systems to newer, modern systems?

Singleton: The change is an incremental release to update legacy systems. Most of the change has focused around usability for day-to-day operations and less effort is placed on reporting or actionable feedback. Another trend we’ve seen is that healthcare networks are trying to develop centralized storage systems between several hospitals. It takes years to do because of all this acquired data that you have to map to a new solution in a clean manner. It can be a very painful process. However, we have a client with an older EMR system that they don’t want to get rid of, and they also have a financial system, but they can’t tie the data together.

We help by integrating those systems so that key decision makers can get real time data and then make better decisions around inventory control, ordering, bill pay, collections and so on. With new integration methods, it can take weeks to do this, not years. In healthcare, you’ve got to have a customized approach but the 80/20 rule is a good one. That’s been our approach with DatumKey, our MDM solution for small and large clients. We can build 80 percent of features that everyone needs and quickly stand up the software, saving our clients time and money. We know that we’ll have to customize the rest of the product for each client.

UnboundID: Which healthcare company is a leader in this area and what has their expertise in customer marketing/data management done for their business?

Singleton: Cancer Treatment Centers of America does a good job integrating their marketing initiatives with offerings. Unlike the traditional nonprofit hospital, they are a for-profit, consumer marketing company. They have to bring customers in the door and they know exactly who their prospects are so it’s a bit different approach. As one example, like a hospital they have several contact methods for somebody to reach them. But once you make that initial contact, you don’t get a call or email follow-up from a marketing or sales rep. You will be contacted from a PhD-level consultant or expert who really understands the disease and the next steps to take. Having an expert at each touch point really drives home what the brand stands for and provides a level of trust with the consumer.