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Jewel Tan - Blog

Making the most out of customer data

To run a customer marketing campaign or undertake any customer analytics, you might consider a variety of customer-related data at your disposal.

There are several types of customer data that you might consider but what we will focus on here is how you can consider the incorporation of aggregates into your customer master to help influence and inform your decisions and actions as a business.


Transactions are easily understood. They occur every time there is a value exchange between your business and the customers. Every additional transaction deepens the relationship that your business has with the customer and likely also influences if they will be a customer again. While you may have a particular interest in the tastes and preferences of the customer.

At the aggregate level, it is useful to know how many times the customer has transacted with you, the average value of each interaction and the frequency between transactions.

By having these attributes tied to the individual customer master you can calculate the lifetime value of that customer, perhaps infer something about their preferences and how they might respond to certain events or promotions. Your CDP or eCommerce platform may have this information but would this be of value to other areas of your business?

Service and Support

If you sell products that are often associated with a service element then, this is an aspect of that can likely also be easily understood.

Every time the customer engages with a representative of your organization around a service or support elements associated with the goods and services you provide can inform your business about the levels of the relationship that exists between the customer and your business and its goods and services. Some sort of survey assessment at the conclusion of every interaction can also tell you whether this customer is net promoter or detractor of your business.

This information could be useful in your next engagement or outreach event associated with that customer. Insight into contacts, can help to convey a closer understanding and form a stronger bond between your business and the customer. Consider how you could incorporate survey, support ticket, warranty and other aggregated information into the customer master

Social media

Your CDP platform likely contains some understanding of the social media aspects of your customers but it is likely that there is nothing on the CRM or ERP system.

If you collect social media data you may be able to see which platform is the most popular among your customer base.

You could consider this in influencing your marketing campaigns and also decide what type of social media platforms and posts perform best and what time of day. Using social media information can influence what you create and publish for maximum reach.

Social media is a critical avenue for certain types of brands, and is now less of an area of exploration and testing, and more a necessary line item within the marketing plans for brands.

Your Customer MDM should be configurable to take the aggregations from these other sources and incorporate them into your Customer master ready for syndication to whoever needs the data

Publish Date: August 30, 2021 10:36 AM

Maximizing CRM & ERP Customer Master data Value

Most companies have customer master data somewhere in their systems. The challenges with the customer data is that many companies find it difficult to maintain that customer data and ensure that everyone that needs access to the customer data, in fact has access to it.

Access to a version that is the latest and greatest form. It is suggested, in various pieces of research, that as little as 20% of business user time gets to be spent on actually using the data. The remaining time, according to HBR, is spent seeking out and preparing the data.

Data is central to how we run our businesses today and customer data is often slap bang in the center. Global market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC) projects spending on general data and analytics to reach $274.3 billion by 2022, you can assume a large chunk of that will be on working on customer data.

Customer data, wherever it is found, is also often contaminated with additional data that is not necessarily pertinent or current. The best solution to having exactly what you need, is the implementation of customer master data management (C-MDM).

Having a C-MDM creates a common definition and a single view of what a customer is, by centralizing data and creating governance, compliance and security.

With the infinite number of possible data combinations and the average number of systems that may be involved (an average of around a dozen or more), any C-MDM project can be unnerving. Getting started can be made easier.

Here’s some steps to make your customer master data management initiative a success.

Organizational Master Data Maturity

Any master data management project’s starting point depends on where the business falls in the enterprise data management maturity model.

Every company is at a different stage and very few are start from scratch or have only one source for the ‘customer’.

Here are some clues to organizational master data maturity

  • Business Divisions are focused on products, services or functions, so they don’t share customer data with others even if there is overlap or benefits

  • Companies may have great customer data, but have inadequate control and governance over that data, so data gets duplicated and potentially goes stale.

  • Non-organic growth activities result in acquisitions of data from elsewhere but this data may be misaligned, inadequate or simply not integrated

  • Meteoric business growth leads to systems not being able to adjust in alignment with the needs of the business, resulting in data proliferation and islands of information.

So, what are the choices available to you, to remediate these kinds of problem?

Research and Identification

Identify who should be the custodians of the Customer Master and which pieces they should be responsible for. This will inform you on the controls and processes you have around customer record creation and maintenance.

Identify who uses the customer master and for what purpose. They could be using the data to engage in outbound customer marketing, billing, service or almost anything

Take an inventory of all the customer data repositories that people are curating or maintaining or using. This will inform you on your data control and proliferation changes and also hopefully give you a statistical count on how many raw records you have.

Define the ideal customer master

Create one or more common definitions of what a customer is and what a customer should look like (we recommend you start with just one). Consider then, the different lenses through which different business units, view and leverage the customer record.

Looking at the consumer customer record, consider that even a consumer may have many different pieces of contact data, emails, phones and actual addresses, some of which are for specific purposes. Home, work, delivery etc.

The idea is to identify data attributes that will be common to the majority of your customers and constitute the customer data point definition – this will become your customer master data model.

Get rid of the duplicates and bad data

After you have a master data model, you’ll want to ensure that your data is accurate and free of duplicates. If you have customer information in multiple systems, the chances are good that you will have duplicate customers with different information. You need to correct inaccuracies and converge on a unified view of the customer record. You will also need to clean up those records and report regularly on the effectiveness of your efforts!

Access and Control

Some sort of governance program will help you control your master data model and in particular the adjustments that will occur to it over time. You’ll also need controls baked into the model and the capture and maintenance processes to keep your data clean and accurate. Good governance ensures that customer data can be trusted and it provides accountability as you strive to keep it up to date and limit the control of and access to the data.

Some final thoughts...

Consider a C-MDM that helps you define your participants in the master data curation process, the solution allows you to define one or more models for what you consider the ideal customer master and then it further allows you to establish controls and measures around what the data should actually be. Look for a C-MDM that goes a step further, one that also allows you to physically build up your repository of customer records and syndicate them to whichever systems or users need the data in a hub and spoke approach using APIs and integrations.

The goal of any C-MDM is to create a single place for all your customer information, a single data source that you can use to inform your business decisions and systems. If you consider the workings of customer relationship management (CRM) systems, ERP’s and CDP’s, the value of a C-MDM is clear. It is not a transactional system, it is a master repository with controls.

Many companies think that their shiny new CRM, ERP or CDP will solve all their customer master data issues but without a solid understanding of customer data and a strategy for how it will be managed. When you move to those new systems you can often compound the problem rather than solving it by creating yet another system with its own data repository and governance rules.

Publish Date: August 25, 2021 4:39 PM

Digital Transformation and the finance function

Calls for digitalisation has been going on for some time now, across all industries, from government agencies through to the latest vaccination certifications as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an erroneous belief though that everyone is prepared to embrace all that digitalization has to offer.

Regrettably, one of the last miles of resistance may be the finance function. While other areas of the business are focused on new technologies to drive better insights that support their business – is the same true for the more conservative finance function?

IDC research suggests that only about half of the “best-run” midsize organizations have a finance function that appropriately understands how significant data quality and data, in general, is, in order to be timely, accurate and useful. Constellation research from 2018 suggests that “DX” projects are often led by the CIO in 60% of small and midsize companies, not by Finance despite Finance often being the final decision-maker.

Finance leaders in business appear to know that cool technologies like AI and ML can help in breaking traditional organizational data silos, that they can support information sharing and improve overall operational efficiency as well as reduce errors in handoffs and accelerate decision management all to the benefit of the customer but do their teams know?

The finance operations disposition seems to be one of “Why change what isn’t broken?” This perspective drives to the heart of the fundamental problem of data ownership and responsibility. The finance function is typically viewed as an operational overhead and not a strategic or competitive advantage or fuel for organization growth. While the business as a whole, favour the benefits associated with fast and easy access to real-time data to respond to a changing business landscape, those clinging to their monstrously complex, macro and formula laden spreadmarts.

For many, shared spreadsheets still remain the most ubiquitous method of fast and easy data distribution between departments despite all the inherent risks with using them as sources of record.

There is a valid argument on both sides of the fence. The short-term view is that the environment is so volatile and ever-changing, that heavy reliance on protracted big-bang projects will end with a half baked solution that will simply add more friction to analysis, insights and reporting. Big transformation projects are risky often with a poorly understood return on investment. Another argument is that finding the right technology to meet SMB needs is hard. 

The flipside of the argument is that the ever-growing pile of electronic spreadsheets makes data management impossible. They’re disconnected from the original sources, get out of data and are easily manipulated in such a way that they can present entirely the wrong picture. In addition to the logistical nightmare, there is the potentially unnecessary reliance on IT support for critical business insights, slow and inefficient processes, and poor decision-making outcomes.

Adoption of technological advances, especially in the SMB and particularly by their finance teams must be the way to deliver timely actions, improve decision-making accuracy, and provide fully informed insights. It only takes a few innovations to deliver benefits that will speak for themselves.

Those innovations, once operationalised will help the finance function get ahead of the audit and compliance anxieties that often plague finance. A recent Forbes piece, suggests that having a DX strategy places your business in a much stronger position and show more resilience than those without one.

Deliver these without detracting from overall business efficiency, data quality and keep up with organizational and business growth and the resistance to adopt and embrace a new way of working will dissipate.

Publish Date: August 16, 2021 3:23 AM

The compass as a metaphor for life

The magnetic compass was first invented as a device for seeking supernatural knowledge of the future or unknown around 200 BC in China. This early use as a tool for geomancy – is also aligned with the Chinese traditional practice of fēngshuǐ which uses energy forces to harmonize the person and their surroundings.

It was only later that it became known as as an instrument for navigation and orientation. In the Song Dynasty China it became a tool of the military for navigational orienteering around that time and was also used for maritime navigation.

Before its introduction mariners relied on sighting of landmarks and the relative position of the moon and stars for navigation.

There were other more interesting methods too, like sampling the seabed (this is how Mark twain’s name was supposedly derived from a commonplace Mississippi river depth sampling call-out to ensure the steamboat didn’t run aground), observations of migratory birds, weather patterns, the observation of sea detritus and floating debris.

All of these were pretty imprecise methods and particularly when there was fog or low cloud cover that prevented one from having much visibility. The compass changed all that by making it possible to determine a heading even in low or no light and even in thick fog.

As such it became an instrument with fairly precise capabilities as long as you understood how to read it and knew which direction you were meant to be traveling in.

Once you understand what each attribute of a compass is meant to to do for you, working with one becomes pretty easy. The US outdoor recreation co-op REI has a great guide to using a compass that is worth a read if you are interested.

Knowing where you are where you want to be

A compass is most useful when used together with a chart or map but that assumes a couple of things. Firstly that you know where you are, and secondly, that you know where you want to go.

This knowledge is relevant to our own lives and intentions. Whether it be a question of lifestyle, personal goals, relationships or even ambitions. It requires one to take stock of where one is at in order to determine the direction in which one plans to continue or set off. At the same time it is a great opportunity to identify areas for improvement like lifestyle choices, how you deal with family and friends and personal goal setting.

As Scott Smith on the Daily Boost might say; “Have you done your homework?”

Do your homework by asking these basic questions;

  • Am I happy?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What do I love to do?
  • Is there something I can do right now, something appropriate and small that would give me a happiness boost?
  • What are the things that are holding me back?
  • What can I do about those things holding me back?

Ideally you should have solid answers for all of these questions, if not, then you need to engage in some introspection.

Planning your journey

As you will know with perhaps commuting (when many of use weren’t working from home); there are potentially many ways to get home. We could perhaps walk, cycle, drive, take public transport etc. Each of those approaches to going home takes a potentially different route with different waypoints. If you establish the way points, the compass is what you use to determine the direction you should travel to get to the next waypoint relative to where you are.

You can also lock onto landmarks and the metaphor here is probably akin to the personal goals that you might have in mind around career progression, education, health etc. Some of your waypoints or landmarks may be big, hairy and ambitious goals (BHAG) or they may be more modest in nature.

Putting a strong focus on goal setting will ultimately reward you with the satisfaction of having achieved something as you arrive at each waypoint.

Publish Date: July 26, 2021 5:51 AM

Talk Less, Listen More

Things all may feel a little skewed and awkward these days, with many people working from home, spending hours on Zoom, gotomeeting, webex, Microsoft Teams and Skype calls. For anyone just entering the workforce, it is difficult to work out exactly who is who in the meeting sometimes.

You may think that the person with the most respect is the one who organized the meeting or presenting content. In the BIO* days it would potentially be the person seated or standing at the head of the conference table giving the presentation, but that’s not always the case.

More importantly, if you’re in a meeting and you feel you just have to make a verbal contribution and feel as if you always need to talk, don’t expect that at any point in your speech, you’re the most respected person in the room or call.

People gain respect by actually listening to the ideas of others. Listening is also an art!

This doesn’t mean that you can’t share your ideas and perspectives, but it does mean that you need to pay attention to what others are saying and listen to learn and don’t just listen to respond.

Selective hearing is not going to do you any favours.

Remember, you were hired to do your job, and other employees were hired to do theirs and unless public speaking is actually what you were hired to do, sometimes it is better to just sit back and listen, make notes and hear what everyone else is saying. This is especially important if you’re in a new hire or have been dropped into a meeting where you know very few others in attendance.

That may seem like a super basic statement, but, in practical terms, it means that other people are experts on tasks outside of your expertise. So, listen to what they have to say about their area of expertise. When you are working in product management, this is especially important. Failure to listen means you will miss important insights about the business problems, the methods and tools in use, the cost of the problem to the business and so much more.

Recognize that, in listening to those around you, you should treat them all with respect.

Respect engenders respect and pays it forward for when it is your turn or when it is necessary for you to speak. Afterall, you do want people to hear what you have to say – don’t you?

*Back in Office!

Publish Date: July 17, 2021 7:03 AM

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