When I began my career in the ’90s, CRM was a buzzword because it promised to marry marketing know-how with scientific rigor, to accurately measure and improve marketing investments and dramatically improve ROI. And the early signs were very promising as response rates increased and CEOs began to see marketing more as a process of continuous improvement that generated revenue rather than a blind leap of faith.
Then, as we entered the era of advanced analytics, targeting and retargeting based on behavioral economics, the possibilities seemed endless. If data is power, then more data must equate to more power, right? Not necessarily.
While the advent of cloud-based marketing tools in the past several years has accelerated CRM, it has also served as the catalyst for the rapid proliferation of disparate data sources. While leading CRM tools, such as Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics, effectively streamlined workflow and automated repetitive tasks, they simply weren’t built to manage, standardize, and cleanse data that lives in unsanctioned master data files in spreadsheets, small user databases, and websites.
In many ways, the vision of the latest generation of technologically adept CMOs was spot-on. These new CRM technologies, platforms, and cloud-based tools enabled marketers to generate more high-quality leads than ever before, improved transparency, and facilitated closed-loop sales processes that improved both efficiency and effectiveness.
However, it seems these CMOs also failed to anticipate an increasingly pervasive data duplication problem, which multiplied every time another department in their organization launched a new database to support customer service, sales, e-commerce, or other customer-facing channels. As duplication rates approach double digits, leading marketing executives have begun to leverage master data management (MDM) tools to eliminate duplicates and deliver a single customer view not only for CRM systems but across all sanctioned and unsanctioned data files in the organization.
CMOs are just coming to the realization that they need a way to manage and eliminate variation across every data set in their organization. In short, they need an MDM solution to optimize their CRM systems. According to Bill O’Kane, research director at Gartner, “Master data management is a critical success factor in constructing optimal customer relationship management processes.… CRM leaders who avoid MDM will derive erroneous results that annoy customers, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in potential revenue gains.” He goes on to say that companies are adopting a more integrated customer experience approach that requires an understanding of the customer’s entire relationship and interactions with the company at any point during the customer journey.