This article originally appeared on the BeyeNETWORK.
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Transaction processing systems have been around for a long time for banking, airlines reservations, insurance claims, manufacturing etc. Various business practices were centered on the transaction. During this time, customers were simply considered accounts and we only knew how much money was in the account and the number of transactions performed. The fact that there was a real person, or even several people, behind the account was a great mystery. We knew practically nothing about those people. Eventually, we discovered that it was much less expensive to work with existing customers, rather than trying to find new ones. With this in mind, organizations realized the importance of establishing ongoing relationships with their current customers.
Consequently, as explained in my previous article (The Importance of Customer Data Integration), organizations raced to better understand their customers and provide a 360 degree view of the customer. The 360-degree view of the customer consisted primarily of demographic data. This data included several items:
- Income level
- Marital status
The demographic data came from the customer themselves, external sources, internal sources, etc. Although it took awhile to gather this demographic data, it ultimately proved beneficial in enhancing the relationship with the customer.
But communication was still missing. Because of this, there really wasn’t a 360 degree view of the customer. Such communications were lacking in e-mail and telephone conversations. Specifically, communications to and from the customer (in the many forms) were missing.
What if a customer called two weeks ago, complaining about a product? Suppose that our sales force wishes to contact that individual today. Don’t you think that the phone call and the complaint the customer has made is going to be important? Don’t you think that the issues the customer has expressed must be addressed before any other business could be conducted? The opportunity for a sale presents itself only after the customer has resolved their immediate issues.
Thus, communications are essential for a 360 degree view of the customer. Unfortunately, these communications involve unstructured data. And unstructured data cannot be tamed. Until now.
Today, technology allows corporate communications to be captured, filtered, edited and matched to the customer. These communications can then be placed in structured environments, where they can be accessed and managed by standard corporate technologies. Such technologies include Business Objects, Oracle, DB2 and Cognos. It is now possible to have a true 360 degree of the customer.
Bill is universally recognized as the father of the data warehouse. He has more than 36 years of database technology management experience and data warehouse design expertise. He has published more than 40 books and 1,000 articles on data warehousing and data management, and his books have been translated into nine languages. He is known globally for his data warehouse development seminars and has been a keynote speaker for many major computing associations. Bill can be reached at 303-681-6772.
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