As IT infrastructure architects furrow their brows over how to integrate big data into the enterprise and as DBAs do the same-it's easy to lose track of the real driver behind big data-great and timely business analytics that derive from an end to end picture of business situations decision-makers are trying to understand and respond to.
From the data and computing sides, we already know it is absolutely essential to break down IT infrastructure silos between platforms, networks and staff-but have we gotten this silo-breaking concept across to the end business?
The thought was spirited this week in a discussion I had with Josh Hemann, a principal consultant in FICO Solutions Marketing Group. Hemann is unique in that he not only has a well-grounded background in statistical analysis and analytics software creation, but also in how operational areas in the enterprise must work together if enterprises are ever going to realize the returns they expect from their big data analytics.
We specifically talked about the call center-a vital channel of customer communication for companies, but one that is often isolated from marketing. Traditionally, call centers have been regarded as part of the operational service arm of most organizations. Because of this perception, they don't have a history of interacting with sales and marketing functions.
But if you call on a customer or target him for a promotion, and you are unaware of his frustration with previous products as recorded in the call center, is this going to help you sell more to that account? Probably not.
Conceptually, C-level executives understand this. A 360-degree view of the customer and the ability to tailor offerings to customers on a one to one basis is seen as vitally important. Surveys also indicate that 85 percent of marketing and IT executives also now acknowledge that the two must work closely together if they are to perfect their analytics so they can become customer-centric. Yet, few of these surveys ask executives about whether they feel there are needs for other areas of operations (like customer service or the call center) to come together with marketing and sales so the 360-degree customer picture can be completed."
"There is a substantial need in organizations to be able to develop a complete characterization of each individual customer now," said Hemann. "Functions like the call center can be very important in this effort because in some cases, the call center might be the channel where the customer has been most engaged with the company, and it might actually be the "real voice" of the customer.
Breaking down the organizational silos to uncover information like call center dialogues that is truly going to give you a "360" on the customer is a major investment area of big data analytics that is seldom talked about-and that no outside consultant or solution provider can solve. It requires dedication from department managers who in the past, have rarely worked together. C-level executives have to drive and support this teamwork if their companies are going to realize all the benefits of using customer-centric data.
"You just can't just blindly give out offers and messages to customers anymore," said Heman. He's right. It's why every company striving to integrate big and standard data for customer-centric analytics should approach operational integration with the same level of diligence that they use when they approach their data.
Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.