Friday, November 30, 2007

On the cost of customer data security

Within the US security breaches for companies are leading to significant costs in order to re-imburse clients for privacy loss, improving security for IT applications and adapting to ever evolving technology developments. Read this article to find out how much US companies are loosing. I wonder what the cost of data security and security breaches is in the European market place, with it's stricter and beter regulated privacy laws.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On Customer Data Integration (2)

This is post 2 of a 4 part series on the concept and application of Customer Data Integration (hereafter referred to as CDI). The first post dealt with the definition of a number of concepts that make up the field of CDI. This, the second post, deals with applying these concepts and defining an overall CDI approach. Post three will deal with key success factors in implementing CDI. The fourth post will highlight some of the application solutions that provide CDI specific solutions.

Defining a CDI Solution

There are many reasons for wanting or needing an integrated CDI environment, such as the need for a consistent customer view across all channels and specific touch points. One way of doing this could be to support all these channels and customer touch points with a single application and generic and uniform processes. Over the past years it has been proven to be rather costly and difficult to integrate legacy applications into a single platform, whereas this does not always lead to quantifiable benefits. A more feasible solution, especially in today's Service Oriented Architecture World is to create a single system of record for customer data. This single system of record is then integrated to other applications over an Enterprise Service Bus for Create, Read, Update and Delete functionality (See slide 1 of the integrated Slide Share Presentation).

Climbing the CDI mountain

In order to reach the top of the mountain, or in other words an implemented CDI application, one would have to complete 4 distinct steps (see slide2 of the integrated slide share presentation). Much of these steps re-use elements of a typical CRM, Business Process Redesign or Generic Enterpise Application Implementation approach and may seem rather obvious.

  1. Identify the pain
  2. Develop the vision
  3. Select components
  4. Deliver value

each of these steps is detailed in the following paragraphs.

1. Identify the pain

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. First perform an assessment of whether a problem exists and if so, what the cause of this problem is. This can be either quality of data, such as customers that appear multiple times, with a slightly different spelling of the last name, or the fact that data or updates are not made available to all channels in a timely fashion. The pain-points are most easily identified through performing an customer data quality assessment and identifying all application, touchpoints and processes that use customer data. The outcome should be a simple identification of pain points and the rationale behind why they are pain points.

2. Develop the vision

The keyword in developing the vision is prioritization and value. Do not spend months of process re-engineering and application implementation work and budget on that one system that only makes up 10% of your customer contacts. Use the pareto principle and if simply developing a service bus that integrates two specific customer systems does the trick then do that, instead of trying to convert and integrate these two systems into a single instance. Focus on defining quick wins,for instance improve quality of data through applying a data quality tool such as Informatica IDQ or Human Inference on existing Customer systems, instead of developing new ones. Another example would be discovering that most value is gained by integrating two existing touchpoints, but not by replacing their systems. The outcome of this phase should be a roadmap and a business case.

3. Select components

Redesign your organization, technical application architecture and processes, based on the roadmap created in step 2. Select the tools for your CDI approach, what technology needs to be implemented and who is going to do it (a vendor, third party or someone / a department within the organization?). Also define who's in charge of implementing the vision. The outcome should be a technology and organizational change focussed set of initiatives that are to be performed / completed within an 12 - 18 month horizon (preferably quicker)

4. Delvier value

Implement the initiatives and measure the result. Ensure your business case is met by identifying if the pain points have been resolved or partly resovled. Can you perform an administrative move of a customer quicker, do less customers complain that they still don't have that product you promised and less customers complain on the quality of service and speed with which changes / complaints are handled.

The next post is on measuring how this value is delivered, what are do's, don'ts and key performance indicators.

Monday, November 26, 2007

On as an application platform

Apparently wants to become the new Microsoft. With the recent launch of and the AppExchange platform certainly seems to be making steps in that direction. An article on CRM-Daily contains the views of several industry experts on this.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

On CRM 2.0

Making everything 2.0 seems to be one of the leading trends over the past couple of year(s). After the web, CRM is now being enhanced and revised into CRM 2.0. Check out this blog post by Paul Greenberg on CRM 2.0 and VRM. I will be checking out the CRM 2.0 wiki and might make some contributions.

On outsourced call centers

I thought that the boom in outsourcing call centres to India and other locations around the world was slowing down. Apparently that's not the case. Avaya, the technology company, has concluded that the market keeps on growing after global research I wonder if this research also includes research to hosted call centre solutions such as Oracle's Telephony at Work solutions.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

On Customer Data Integration (1)

This is to become post 1 of a 4 part series on the concept and application of Customer Data Integration (hereafter referred to as CDI). This first post will go into the definition of a number of concepts that make up the field of CDI. The second post will deal with applying these concepts and defining an overall CDI approach. Post three will deal with key succes factors in implementing CDI. The fourth post will highlight some of the application solutions that provide CDI specific solutions.

What is Customer Data Integration
according to Gartner CDI is : 'a combination of technologies, processes and services to develop and maintain an accurate, timely and complete view of the customer….across multiple sources of customer data..' This is the definition that will be used during the remainder of these series. It's important to stress that CDI is more than just technology to ensure a single view of the customer, it can involve a change in business processes and requires a company to focus on the need for correct customer data.

Challenges addressed through CDI
Ensure a single point of entry for customer data, enter your customer data only once, and have it available for use in all channels once the data has been entered.
All channels are provided with consistent and accurate data, through use of data quality tools.
By providing all channels with consistent customer data, one is able to enhance a customers experience and perception of level of service. The customer experience can be made consistent across all channels.
If your customer data is of higher quality, the reliability of data for segmentation and marketing is significantly improved.
A single source for customer data allows a company to better manage it's customer data privacy. Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations is easier for a single system, as opposed to dispersed, diffuse customer date stored in multiple systems.

Elements of CDI
Customer Master Data Systems, a single source that stores your customers in a consistent way. Typically an application that is exposed to other application using EAI / SOA based tooling. A customer master data application provides a data model which allows storing all your customer related data, such as contact, account and address information (installed base information can also belong to this domain), whereas operation data, such as opportunities, leads, activities / meetings, are stored in operational CRM systems

Data Quality Tools, however strict the procedure you have for data entry is, one will always make mistakes such as duplicate entry of data, incomplete address information etc. Data Quality Tools can prevent common mistakes from being made, by providing data matching and data cleansing services. Data matching entails matching new entries to existing data, based on certain algorythms to determine potential and complete matches of data entered. Data cleansing tools provide automatic enhancement and validation of data, such as address information or names of companies based on postal code data or chamber of commerce reference information.

Enterprise Application Integration. In today's world of SOA enable applications EAI plays an important role. A customer master application is worthless without it being exposed to other applications as a data provider. If your perfect model of customer data cannot be accessed through operational applications, the benefits of CDI cannot be reaped. Enterprise application technology provides authentication, transformation and transport for XML based services to and from your customer master system, to ensure the correct data is actually delivered on request, but only to applications that are allowed to access that data.

The second part of this series will deal with an application of these concepts.

On customer data proliferation and ownership

Who's data is it anyway? In recent history sales people relied on their own network to close sales and score their bonus. Social networking and google have made it far more easy to find a new contact within a firm you would like to sell to. Jim Fowler has posted an interesting article on CRM daily about data ownership in the Web 2.0 world.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On Service Enhancement in the Manufacturing Industry

Deloitte recently published an article, based on it's gobal service and parts management benchmarking study, which indicates that only a small number of manufacturing companies are actually able to reap the benefits from an effective service strategy. Perhaps this spells out a bright future for spending on service effectiveness / field service crm projects in the near future.

Click here for the article

Monday, November 12, 2007

On consolidation in the BI Market - IBM to buy Cognos

After the recent news that SAP is to acquire Business Objects, IBM has decided to try and snatch up Cognos. I wonder how this will affect SAP and Oracle, who are both intent on snatching up a large part of the BI market.

On Oracle On Demand

Oracle is set to unveil a new set of On Demand CRM applications as part of their CRM on Demand offerings. Apparently a session was held last Friday to show a sneak preview of the functionality that is to be unveiled at open world later today. For more info see ZDNet

Deloitte consulting also recently announced a new strategic alliance with Oracle for it's CRM on Demand applications. Deloitte Consulting is to be the first global strategic partner and systems integrator to sign a partnership deal with Oracle for implementing On Demand CRM applications.

On Mobile CRM

Having been involved in implementing Mobile CRM technology, I've found that one of the major pitfalls in implementing mobile solutions is trying to provide full process coverage on a limited functionality mobile device. CRM Daily has interviewed a number of industry experts that are saying the same thing. Click here for the full story