Marketers Can Improve Customer Data Via MDM

Loraine Lawson
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Seven Data Obstacles You Need to Overcome to Drive Cross-Channel Marketing

Research shows that marketing is taking a bigger share of technology spending. Still, it didn’t seem quite real until I saw this column about data quality and master data management (MDM) on a site targeting chief marketers.

Of course, chief marketers have a lot of reasons to be concerned with these two topics. As the piece points out, 30 percent of data in the retail customer database becomes outdated within a year. Marketing also relies on a number of data silos for its core information, including point-of-sale transactions, call center data and loyalty programs.

Conflict among these data silos can jeopardize your CRM efforts and customer loyalty programs, according to Sandra Gudat, who wrote the column. Gudat is president and CEO of loyalty and marketing agency Customer Communications Group.


Gudat writes that a single source of the truth is a best practice. It’s my duty to point out, however, that many data experts such as John Schmidt, Judith Hurwitz and InformationManagement now say it’s impossible or nearly impossible to actually achieve it with one hub—especially when you consider the challenges created by Big Data.

Still, you’ve got to do what you can, right? Gudat outlines four steps to eliminating customer data silos, all of which culminate in rolling out MDM as a tool for improving customer data:

  1. Form a multi-disciplinary committee. Since the data belongs to many business units, this committee should include someone from each division with customer data ownership.
  2. Assign a data steward to manage the customer data warehouse. IT is well-versed in the importance of data stewards, and experts have long suggested the job should belong to the business. Gudat continues that fine tradition, adding that the data steward typically works in marketing or CRM, but should be technical enough to deal with the systems at play.

    “The steward not only has administrator privileges to the master customer database, but also monitors to ensure that all new data is consistent and conforms to pre-established standards,” Gudat writes.
  3. Create a business plan. Here’s where these steps intertwine. The data steward should lead the multi-disciplinary committee in creating a business plan that identifies the existing customer data problems and how MDM can help fix them. It should go without saying that you’ll need to include a cost analysis and financial justification, but just in case, this is your reminder.
  4. Map business processes and data flow. This will help you build a business rule repository that will ensure that the same policies apply across all customer projects.

Gudat’s four steps are the simplest approach I’ve ever read on how to adopt MDM. Of course, they leave out the technical details of MDM and a few other steps you might want to consider, but they address core problems, such as assigning responsibility, defining a business case and ensuring all business units are involved.

If you’d like to hear more about the nitty-gritty of integrating customer data, you should sign up for “New Best Practices To Manage Customer Information,” an Information Management free webinar scheduled for tomorrow at 12 p.m. EST/ 9 a.m. PT.

Aaron Wallace, Pitney Bowes global product manager, and Dr. Robin Bloor, chief analyst with The Bloor Group, will discuss the challenges of highly fragmented data, social media and telemetry data, and dealing with the customer data that resides outside your corporate firewalls.



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