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5 Big Things to Consider Before Unlocking the Power of Big Data

December 26, 2012 By Michael Watts
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Most companies accumulate very valuable and useful information about their customers as a byproduct of their routine operations. Accounts receivable is one major source of who bought what and when. The marketing department has data on who responded to which promotion. Customer service very likely has a collection of both positive and negative reports on customer experiences with the products your company offers. Social media channels may also provide insight into your customers' habits, life stage and needs. The problem is that often this so-called "Big Data" is stored in separate silos throughout the organization and finding, filtering, analyzing and formatting this information is probably not a priority for the IT department, even though making sense of it is a top priority for the marketing department.

The markets and marketers can't wait. What's required is a customer communications management (CCM) strategy, a method of utilizing that mountain of Big Data to develop finely targeted customer profiles for personalized and relevant outreach.

Designing a Solution
If we spend too much time analyzing the information, we risk losing sight of what the real objective is: an ever-increasing personal relationship with the customer. We want to know what they want, how they want it and when they want it. However, getting to that point requires that we first take a careful look at our organization and devise a plan of action. That plan should address one crucial question: How do we manage multiple data streams and turn them into customer profiles that can help us gain greater customer insight?

Following are considerations when designing a CCM strategy to gain the greatest value from your Big Data:

1. Mining Big Data. Use data to create highly personalized communications and improve the customer experience. Mining existing data will allow your organization, for example, to use the white space on your statements to send a targeted message that will help customers better understand your available products and services as well as their bills, statements, policies and related correspondence.

2. Meeting delivery preferences. Given the variety of today's communications technologies, an important way to best serve customers is to determine and follow their individual communication preferences. Whether a customer prefers to communicate via paper (mail), electronic means (email, Internet, text, social media), mobile devices or a combination of these channels, being able to meet these delivery preferences is an expectation rather than an option.

3. Managing processes and content. Brand management and compliance with legal and regulatory standards are priorities that make the need for a secure, collaborative document creation environment essential. This environment should enable management of the processes, users and roles, interfaces and updating methods for a variety of communication channels.

4. Reduced time-to-market for new offerings. With the right customer communications management program, your organization will be able to repurpose existing customer data and quickly tailor communications to take advantage of new market opportunities or introduce new product offerings.

5. Predictive modeling. Complete visibility of customer data is essential for predictive modeling and analytics to identify customer trends, as well as emerging market opportunities.

Michael Watts is chief operating officer for Swiss-based GMC Software Technology. Reach him at


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