Get a 360 Degree View
By Lisa Yorgey Lester
When consumers make a purchase from your Web site or retail store, they are shopping your brand, not your channel. Indeed, close to 80 percent of consumers shop physical stores, online and catalogs interchangeably, according to a March 2005 report released by Adjoined Research.
So, you want to be able to recognize customers across your channels and report on those interactions. Imagine a customer's frustration when she purchases an item from your catalog and isn't able to exchange it at your local retail store.
By integrating disparate data silos into a single repository, you can achieve a single view of your customers that cuts across channels and business lines and is key to reducing costs, increasing revenue, and managing risk in today's privacy-conscious climate.
A data integration project requires a hefty investment of company resources. So before embarking on a mission to marry disparate data sources, make sure there is a good business reason for integrating your data in the first place, advises Bill Stoughton, business intelligence group leader at Merkle. "There must be a strong reason for what you'd do better or differently. You need to identify specific tactics that support your overall strategy and how integration supports that."
Because a data integration program cuts across operational and organizational silos, creating a complete view of your customer often involves changing the corporate culture. For example, if you measure profitability by line of business, it makes it difficult to share customer data across an organization, points out Scott McClary, a retail industry consultant at Acxiom.
If you're not internally structured to share the customer, it becomes apparent to the end user. For this reason, says McClary, "someone at a higher level needs to take ownership of the customer. If this is a marketing project, it should be at least a chief marketing officer or a senior vice president of marketing."