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The 360-Degree View Must Go Further
Competitive advantage requires a multidimensional view of customers.
For the rest of the May 2013 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Although a 360-degree view of the customer can provide valuable insights into customer histories and other factors, its scope is limited, according to a new report by Forrester Research.

How is it possible to get more than a 360-degree view of the customer? Take a multidimensional approach that relies on faster, more agile analytics and predictive capabilities, according to the report "The Future of Customer Data Management."

"The 360-degree view does not include all of the data that is now available about the customer," says Mike Gualtieri, a Forrester analyst and coauthor of the report.

It also gives limited insight into customer behavior, sentiment, and experiences across channels and touch points and fails to take into account customer-generated content on social media and mobile usage.

The multidimensional view, the report states, "uses all of the available information about [customers], including information pertaining to psychographics, social networks, smart devices, geolocation, and Internet usage, to deliver individualized and contextual products, services, and experiences."

As an example, the report imagines a mobile app for the Cheesecake Factory that can call up a menu and make recommendations based on a user's stored preferences, but then takes personalization a step further by pulling data from her Nike+ FuelBand to see that she ran six miles this morning and is, therefore, entitled to a dessert today.

"And then there's a lot more that we can infer using analytics to fill in the blanks," Gualtieri continues.

But, the report notes, to make this happen, companies will need a next-generation customer data management (CDM) platform that can harness big data and predictive analytics. Such CDM platforms will also need to contain technologies around in-memory computing, event stream and parallel data processing, and data virtualization to support faster insights, process larger amounts of data more quickly, enable predictive analytics, and support the integration of information from both inside and outside the company's four walls.

To create and maintain a competitive advantage, companies will need to capture, store, integrate, and share all kinds of structured, unstructured, and semistructured customer data; analyze the data to find meaning; and use predictive models to deliver real-time, individualized experiences to customers. (Read more about predictive analytics in the cover story, "Predictive Analytics: The Futurists' Formula.")

The problem, however, is that many of the CRM and CDM technologies currently in use were built before all this data became available, and they can't handle it, according to Gualtieri.

And more modern technologies are still very limited. "Right now, there are companies starting to build these platforms, but none can do it all, and most apps are still siloed," Gualtieri says. "In a few years the vendors and the technology will catch up, and more of this technology will emerge.

"There's a great business and technology change that needs to happen for this to take effect," Gualtieri maintains. "It's really about getting people to think about all of the data sources and use them."

In the meantime, Gualtieri suggests that companies shouldn't get rid of any of the data they are collecting now. "Don't throw anything away. All that data is the base, but you have to expand your minds to make use of it."


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