Does Access to Real-Time Data Make a Difference in Customer Profitability?
Aggregating customer data in real-time across multiple applications, platforms, systems, and entire organizations can be more difficult than herding cats, but there is an alternative: an interoperating system.
Posted Mar 22, 2004
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You may have heard this story, or one very much like it. It begins several years ago when a forward-thinking company deployed a team of consultants to find out about their customers. The results were ready in six months, business plans were written in the following quarter, budget approval was gained, and new processes were deployed the following year. Tremendous profits were forecast. Instead of greater profitability, however, that same forward-thinking company nearly closed its doors a short time later. How could that happen? The effects of time. By the time the company was able to act on the information it had so meticulously collected in its data warehouse, the marketplace had shifted. The moral of the story is, there's no substitute for real-time information in decision-making. But aggregating customer data in real-time across multiple applications, platforms, systems, and entire organizations can be more difficult than herding cats--and the costs don't stop after the consulting firms leave, unless you come at it from another angle. Instead of layering more custom code on top of enterprise applications, creating budget overruns and administrative nightmares, why not approach integration from a fresh code base and as close to the machine as you can? There's an alternative, called an interoperating system by some, and it's characterized by a fresh code base, Linux, a close-to-the-machine, managed-mesh architecture, and extremely low overhead. For example, it has a 10-times smaller footprint, performance improvements of as much as 1,000 percent over existing middleware platforms, the ability to scale readily in either direction, plus lower implementation, training, and maintenance costs). Let's take another hypothetical scenario using an interoperating system: A leading global provider of diversified financial services acquires two companies: a mutual funds operation company and an HR consultancy focusing on benefits and pension management. Consolidation after the merger involved three CRM systems, multiple customer portals, separately managed and disparately organized account teams--all in a competitive, dynamic marketplace. The CIO of this company is deploying an interoperating system. Using current programming APIs and replacing the interprocess and internode communications with the communication components of an interoperating system, these components significantly increase throughput. The interoperating system supports all major communication models (request/response, queued, message bus, event/subscription and broadcast). So, existing communication models are fully supported, often requiring no more than a single configuration change. With the performance gains achieved using an interoperating system, new applications are brought online, alongside, and among existing applications quickly, and data becomes available to the line managers in time to act on it. By deploying a distributed service architecture to integrate the CRM platforms (e.g., Siebel) within diversified financial and the mutual fund companies, and using XML and Web Services with the HR consultancy's environment (e.g., PeopleSoft), a real-time, unified view of customer information is achieved, without the complex effort required to create a separately managed customer data warehouse. The company can further align customer activity with the ERP platform (e.g., SAP's xApps) by leveraging both Web services and XML/SOAP, to provide transactional-level detail and financial performance insight. This visibility delivers big improvements in the company's ability to effectively forecast behavior and trends. In the end, the economies of scale achieved, as well as reduced costs and increased revenue through complementary products and services, makes return on investment possible in as little as three months. Cost reductions include enhanced, self-directed interaction between the customers and the company, as well as a multidimensional view of each customer's relevant information.
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