These days, computers and cell phones aren’t the only internet-connected objects in our lives – the web now touches a vast array of everyday items, from refrigerators and fire alarms to tooth brushes and parking meters. The Internet of Things is the real driver in our new networked economy, and the possibilities are seemingly endless.
There is more customer data at executives’ fingertips than ever before – in 2009, there were 2.5 billion things connected to the internet, creating data. That number will explode to 30 billion things by 2020. So how can businesses harness the power of all that customer data being generated by this new networked reality to create insights that help build lifelong customer relationships? And how can they keep from being overwhelmed by all that noise?
According to a recent white paper from the MDM Institute, “Stop Annoying Your Customers: Apply MDM + Big Data to Build a Complete Customer View Now,” master data management of the future will be defined by four key tech trends: mobile, social, cloud and real-time. This article will reflect on the ways these four areas will affect how businesses manage data, and what changes IT experts will need to make to their Master Data Management Systems to remain competitive.
At their core, the Master Data Management Systems of the future must be designed to accommodate the vast quantities of network data being produced by our new mobile and social frontiers. The data must be managed so that it can be used across the entire enterprise, which often means breaking down existing silos in the business and encouraging interdepartmental communication. Actionable data is characterized by its standardization and cleanliness – lending structure where previously there was none – so the ability to ensure data is clean and of good quality will be paramount. Once these assurances are in place, databases will be enriched by the demographic, location and network data to be gleaned from social and mobile platforms. It won’t be possible for executives to make the most of the flood of consumer data without also greeting this new era with equally transformed, next generation data management systems.
The Internet of Things and the rise of the networked economy represent a very real opportunity for a step-change in customer relations through the creation of hyper customer-centric brand experiences. In the years to come, traditional enterprise will be confronted with the challenge of coping with this new networked economy – and only those incorporating a master data management approach organized around customer network interactions will survive.
The mobile and social trends highlighted by the MDM Institute are rooted in the customer and how the consumer lives his or her everyday life through internet-connected objects, from phones and tablets to clothing and household appliances. But real-time information and cloud are the structural technology developments which make it possible for a master data management system to leverage mobile and social behavioral trends to create actionable insights for businesses.
Four Key Trends - Mobile, Social, Real-Time, and Cloud
There are strategic approaches businesses must take to each of these four trends when building a next-generation data management system to support a market-leading customer engagement strategy.
The 21st century reliance on mobile devices has transformed the way consumers interact with their peers, share information and manage their daily lives. Most Americans ages 18-44 have their phones with them twenty-two hours a day – which means companies are able to gather data and interact with them during that period, too. But in growing and maintaining lifelong customer relationships, it is critical that communication from brands take place at precisely the right time, in the right place and through the right channels. Mobile check-ins and interactions over social networks like Facebook and Twitter provide personal and location intelligence data that is relevant, and, with next generation MDM capabilities, actionable for any business. If this data is integrated within an MDM platform and combined with social media data, brands will be empowered to make highly-contextual and personal offers to consumers – driving the depth of their loyalty to the brand.
For example, a brand of coffee shops could leverage a customer’s nearby mobile check-in by then targeting them with a special offer to drive them into the nearest location. The coffee shop could also use social data created by the customer when they’re on-the-go to map when they’re nearby, and the context of each of their visits, allowing the offer not just to drive them to the nearest location but speak to them on their level, about their day, and weave the brand into their routine. Mobile data, when leveraged fully, offers an incredible opportunity for real-time personalized customer engagement to drive brand loyalty.
It is hard to separate this category from the previous one today. Mobile is now one of the most popular ways for customers to access their social networks. These days, mobile is the primary way consumers now access Twitter. According to eMarketer, the global social network audience will have risen to 2.55 billion people by 2017. As more and more people join social networks and share their demographic information, their interests and their lifestyles, they contribute to an ever-growing repository of data that can be effectively leveraged by businesses. But beyond demographic and lifestyle data, social networks make it possible for businesses to understand what data is meaningful by considering it in the proper context of the network in which it is shared – with the consideration of how people are connected to other people, places and things.
With a broader customer view, that brand of coffee shops we talked about earlier could draw insight not only from check-ins, tweets and Facebook likes, but also social media friend networks, to create an individualized marketing approach for that single customer. They will be empowered to reach out to customers with offers, relevant content and phrasing to capture their attention. Data insight also enables brands to draft a customer profile identifying the most effective time, channel and format of communications to ensure that customers don’t view them as “just another brand.”
Businesses open to new approaches to MDM will be able to leverage mobile and social data to create the unique, hyper personalized customer approaches that separate them from all the often unwelcome marketing noise their target might be receiving from other brands – establishing an emotional connection with the consumer that drives brand loyalty. A personalized experience with a brand is often all it takes for a customer to feel appreciated, understood, and, ultimately, want to engage with that brand’s message.
Processing real-time information is essential to maintaining database that can deliver actionable insights for a business. Data becomes outdated fast enough to make heads spin, and new data is produced every millisecond to take its place. In order to ensure that customer interactions are as targeted and insightful as possible, companies must invest in a master data management solution that can handle the rapid speed at which changes occur. Users must be able to compose and publish custom data flows through an intuitive user interface that allows both batch jobs and real-time services to be published for use and integration with external systems.
By outfitting data management systems with these capabilities, companies are future-proofing their data integration and governance to stay ahead of the game and continue to drive loyal customer relationships as the competition lags behind.
The growing consumer and enterprise software trend of hosting databases in the cloud will be absolutely imperative to businesses trying to construct the Data Management systems that will help them keep up with the rapidly transforming landscape. While a previously unseen wealth of data exists to provide businesses with actionable insight, the data management platforms must be built to provide companies with the tools to properly manage them. The existing hyper-competitive business environment requires enterprise to be able to turn on a dime – and hosting data management solutions in the cloud decreases both implementation time and cost, and obstacles to growth. It’s a serendipitous technological development that cloud should arise just as enterprise is faced with such a mass of data - the management of which previously would have required serious investment in an ever-growing IT infrastructure.
Key Ingredients Shaping Next-Generation MDM Solutions
Businesses are currently faced with a wealth of data like never before. The rise of mobile and social consumer trends, coupled with the expectation for real-time information processing and the availability of the cloud, will be the key ingredients shaping next generation Master Data Management solutions – and insightful customer experience management. Moving forward, businesses will either embrace these technology trends and leverage them in their data analysis, integration and governance, or fail to match competitors in the development of the lifelong customer relationships that make companies stick around.
About the author:
Navin Sharma is the vice president and general manager for the Information Management and Analytics Software Portfolio at Pitney Bowes. He has over 15 years of experience in the areas of data management and location intelligence and has helped numerous Fortune 1000 companies and Government agencies design and implement their data management strategies from the ground-up.