The idea underpinning connected data is a fundamentally simple one. It means that all data across the enterprise is connected into, and visible through, a central location with context and interrelationships determined as the first step toward building a “golden record” of an entity such as a customer, product, or service. Connected customer data is particularly problematic given the number of business functions that interact with customers, and given that the customers themselves often generate data through devices, digital channels, or other means. Competing in a digitally connected world calls for a central point of data control now referred to as a customer data platform (CDP).
The connected data concept is a recognition that the historical division of data between business functions – such as sales, service, marketing, and operations – no longer provide benefit to the organization at large. This wasn’t always the case: businesses for centuries had found it easier to divide their activities among specialists, allowing salespeople to sell and crafters to craft, and keep any resulting data separate. Those functions further specialized into channels such as call centers, stores, internet, email, etc. That is no longer a viable strategy in the modern world, largely because consumers interact with brands across dozens of possible touchpoints and can show up in any engagement system at any time.
Given that today’s customers have an almost unlimited array of ways to engage with a brand, the functional or channel-focused approach taken by marketers based on siloed data creates a gap between customer experience and expectations. In a recent Customer Experience Impact Survey, 86 percent of customers said they would willingly pay more money for a better experience yet only one percent of customers felt brands met their expectations. Brands have failed to close this customer engagement gap over the years, in large part because of their investments in siloed channels and technologies. Connected data counteracts this siloed approach to technology investment, arming brands with the right information, at the right time, to close the customer engagement gap and forge powerful customer experiences.
Connected data is a foundational concept required to provide the deep level of customer understanding necessary for highly personalized and contextually relevant engagement in today’s digital world. Without connecting data across all systems, this level of understanding falls short of customer expectations. A CDP is required as the basis for this deep understanding, to ingest all of the data, connect all of it, and make it accessible throughout the enterprise.
This single point of data control creates the right conditions to construct, continually update, and provide a customer “golden record” that is so crucial to enterprise engagement, cross-channel marketing, and omnichannel experiences. The golden record allows the enterprise to understand customer behaviors, preferences, and trends across all touchpoints throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
For an enterprise to truly have connected data, they must integrate all data sources, types, and cadences across the enterprise. So whether the data comes from the CRM, email service provider, web analytics, social media, or Internet of Things (IoT), all interaction data is stitched together and visible through a unified view. This advanced single customer view is then able to drive advanced analytics and real-time engagement flows, personalizing interactions with consumers in contextually relevant ways to close the engagement gap.
The volume of data every enterprise must contend with has exploded. Worldwide, the amount of data generated every day is double the amount of data generated from the beginning of recorded history up to the year 2003. The sheer scale of data created across the enterprise is enormous, and right now it’s all locked down tight in functional silos … inaccessible to everyone who doesn’t work in that particular silo.
With the rise of digital engagement, including IoT and all the device data it entails, it’s becoming less and less viable to operate with siloed data. Customers increasingly leave brands that are unwilling or unable to provide relevant experiences or act in a customer-centric manner. Connected data allows marketers and other stakeholders to know their customers more closely and more completely than ever before. There is tremendous potential value in creating a connected data environment, and the brands that recognize that will be the ones who remain competitive in the age of the empowered customer.