Ragy Thomas highlights the plight of marketers in his recent article in DM News. As he points out, marketers are usually poorly served by corporate IT systems. A critical thing for them is to get a good understanding of their customers, is that they can craft carefully targeted campaigns, yet corporate CRM systems have failed to deliver the much talked about, yet elusive “single customer view”. He sets out a sensible approach which is essentially a recipe for master data management in the specific context of customer data. In particular he talks about the need to document the existing data sources, to map the differences between them, to set up processes to improve data quality and then to consider how to deal with integrating and automating the processes.
I would add that such an initiative should sit within the broader context of an enterprise-wide approach to master data management, else we will see a new generation of silos developing, with a customer hub, a product hub, a hub for various other types of data, all in themselves duplicating and so having to be synchronized with data in underlying transaction systems. Nobody wants to see different technologies and approaches used for the marketing data, for the finance master data, for the supply chain data etc. That marketing departments are having to resort to such initiatives shows just how hollow the “single view of the customer” promises from giant application vendors have turned out to be.