Another Cyber Monday has come and gone – and, with it, the most digitally-driven crowd of shoppers to date. IBM Digital Analytics said that sales this year were up by 17.5 percent from last year’s Cyber Monday, largely because of mobile.

That’s no surprise. Despite the madness around the extra long Black Friday last week, many shoppers this holiday season weren’t planning to venture out to retail stores to shop for gifts. According to a survey from Nielsen conducted before the shopping season, only 13 percent of consumers said they were planning to visit a retail location for Black Friday, which is down from 17 percent in 2012.

Indeed, for many consumers, even Black Friday has become just another Cyber Monday. The same Nielsen survey found that about half (51 percent) of shoppers were planning to go online for their post-Thanksgiving shopping this year.

But the shoppers who have loyally been using the same retailer for three Cyber Mondays straight likely saw the same webpage as someone who just found the site yesterday. They’ll probably get the same offers, too, even though the company has years of data about their personal journeys with the brand.

Customer information management (CIM) is the key to building more personal online relationships, but most businesses aren’t leveraging it. Online retailers celebrated the holiday shopping spree by offering discounts, but how many effectively linked the off-line identities of consumers with their digital online identities? How many will be taking into account the social network data to offer truly personalized savings and more valuable customer interactions?

The Master Data Management Problem

A new generation of master data management (MDM) platforms have made building complex and dynamic customer profiles and relationship profiles a possibility, but only if retailers are willing to take a long, hard look at where their customer information strategy is, and how they can leverage it across every channel.

Historically, customer information ends up in silos that rarely interact. Consequently, customers are churned into nameless numbers and statistics usually only used for mass marketing campaigns. That’s why it’s inevitable that emails advertising a shoe sale for teen girls are going to land in the inboxes of customers who aren’t shoe shoppers. Or teenagers. Or girls.

To flatten silos, companies need to redefine MDM platforms by thinking of data in less linear and siloed fashions and more in terms of a knowledge graph.

Bringing Data to Life

Knowledge graphs breathe life into static numbers, allowing MDM platforms to present businesses with customer context and sentiment, revealing how customers found the business, what they’re looking for and how they feel toward the company and product. Data travels through a fluid and dynamic architecture that reveals social and professional networks, enriching profiles with that information and creating 360 degree views of customers that allow for true personalization

Loyal customers, then, could receive individualized experiences when coming back to a retailer’s website for Cyber Monday. They could get a custom greeting and an exclusive discount. If they call in for help, a rep will already know what product they’ve been looking at or what pages they’ve visited. In this way, retailers can reward loyalty with exclusive offers and a customized customer journey.

There are countless opportunities for companies that optimize CIM. And, as the research into Black Friday and Cyber Monday shows, it’s clear that there’s an imperative to grow business by incorporating more data into customer relationships to help realize the digital business imperative. CIM is central to achieving that goal and creating a memorable customer experience. And, in the Age of the Customer, that’s more important than ever.

Want to learn more about the changing structure of Master Data Management and Data Governance? Download our whitepaper about the future of MDM!