First Steps Toward Customer Data Integration
No. 1: Create an enterprise-wide customer information management plan. All key stakeholders—with representation from marketing, sales, customer service, finance, operations and IT, at the minimum—must feed the overall management plan. Gartner Inc. says many companies attempt customer information management plans "… with no idea of what they are hoping to build in the long term. One solution is haphazardly joined with another, initiatives come and go, and soon enthusiasm is waning throughout the enterprise."
Organizations spend vast sums of money on managing and using their customer information asset. As such, this asset should be covered by a comprehensive plan that does it justice.
The goal of the plan is to create a system that enables the company to "recognize" customers. Inaccurate recognition of customers, due to poor data quality, incomplete data and limited accessibility, causes a "ripple" effect across an organization that degrades business performance. Given the increasing volumes of data across multiple systems, lines of business and channels, even small levels of data fragmentation can create significant downstream customer management performance problems. The goal is to prevent this ripple effect from ever happening.
No. 2: Obtain resources to support the plan. Ensure that the resource requirements of customer information management/usage are sufficient to support the enterprise plan. Make it clear this is a specialist area where employee development is critical, and consider using the expertise of an outside consultant/provider to diagnose your company's capabilities.
CDI, by its nature, requires a range of skill sets, which in the open market are in short supply. It requires personnel who are trained in the implementation of customer relationship management (CRM) tools and technology, such as the ongoing management of customer data, from sourcing and procurement through quality control, definition, security, integration, maintenance, accessibility, value measurement and compliance with privacy regulations. Organizations must ensure they have sufficient resources in place to meet current, as well as future, business needs.