First Steps Toward Customer Data Integration
Even with a basic understanding of CDI and what it can accomplish, let me add a word of caution. It can be especially difficult for small- and medium-sized companies to implement an effective CDI solution because they may not be able to afford to build the skill-sets needed to implement the processes and technologies.
There are usually two options in setting up a CDI process for most companies: 1) Develop all the necessary systems and expertise in-house (something that even the largest companies have had difficulty doing); or 2) work with a CDI solutions provider. Most large companies—those on the Fortune 1000 list—have tried the first option, and after much frustration, have now turned to the second option. They realized they didn't possess the amount of expertise to accomplish such an undertaking, not to mention the cost of acquiring the right technological solutions, especially in a down economy.
Whichever way you go, keep in mind that data quality is the backbone of successful customer data integration. A CDI solutions provider can conduct diagnostic tests that will quickly give you a snapshot of how good your customer data is—to what degree it is accurate, complete and up to date, and how it compares to benchmarks for data quality in your company's particular industry. If the diagnosis shows your data contains a high percentage of anomalies, consider bringing in outside data that will correct and update the records.
How important is data quality? Look at it this way: If you're working with bad data, you stand to lose a good deal of time and money because your marketing decisions will be made on incomplete or erroneous data.
Seven Keys to CDI
I've outlined the seven underlying areas that can drive the success of your implementation in both the initial and future stages of CDI deployment: