Get a 360 Degree View
Additionally, you may want to consider appointing a program manager or an operating committee early on
in the process to deal with roadblocks, develop strategy and coordinate phases, suggests Stoughton.
Whether you decide to handle integration internally or externally, there will be a good deal of collaboration between all parties involved. Everyone who will have access or provide data needs to take part in the planning process, including IT, customer service, e-commerce, marketing and billing.
Once you've assembled the team to lead your data-integration project, agree on the desired result and work backwards to build a comprehensive step-by-step plan. "Understand what the end state might look like and figure out how to achieve that in steps. You want to create a structured and phased approach so you can adjust to what amounts to a moving target," says Stoughton.
"Significant changes in infrastructure typically take time, and by the time they are implemented it is likely that some aspects of the requirements have changed. That's why phased approaches work so well—because they allow a somewhat modular approach to building capabilities, with built-in points in time where you can step back and ensure alignment with current business needs," he explains.
Assess Your Data Needs
With your plan in hand, you now want to identify and define what data you need to drive your marketing communications strategy.
"Map out every touchpoint where consumers interact with your brand and begin to inventory the data collected at every point of action. It also is equally important to map out the data you plan to use in your outbound communications at the various touchpoints," recommends Michele Fitzpatrick, chief marketing officer, Harte-Hanks. These points may include information communicated or collected at the point of sale, via in-store displays, contests and signage, during customer service calls and more. "Then, figure out which ones you will use to generate a 360-degree view of your customers," she adds.