• June 9, 2022
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

New Business Rules Require Data Democratization, Forrester CX Speakers Urge

If there was one positive to come from the COVID pandemic, it forced companies to separate out their most urgent projects, and for most, the biggest focus was on customer data and how it gets used, speakers in a keynote panel to kick off Day 2 of Forrester Research's CX North America conference said yesterday.

A lot of the attention became focused on digitization of processes, and with that digital transformation, customer data became really important, Keith Johnston, a Forrester vice president and group director, told the audience.

The most dramatic impact of the work-from-home trend that COVID spawned was that it forced companies to look at how their data was being distributed and used, according to Des Cahill, Oracle's group vice president of advertising and CX product strategy, one of the panelists."There is bringing the data together, and then there is how to distribute it operationally," he said. "The companies that invested in the democratization of their data were the ones to weather the pandemic and accelerate out of it."

Jason Galloway, a principal and customer advisory leader at KPMG, agreed. In the COVID world, it's not just about the data but whether it is available in the right places and whether the right people know how to use it, he said. Companies today really need to ask "which [key performance indicators] really matter to the business and can you get the data to align with them."

Also in agreement was Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, chief marketing officer of Fullstory. "You can't let data sit only with the data science team," she said. "You need unified and democratized data."

And it's not necessarily about the amount of data companies have anymore, panelists agreed. "Companies are already awash in data. Many don't even know where it all is," Cahill said.

For Abishek Viswanathan, group product director at Qualtrics, having the right data is more important.

"Focus on the right outcomes and having the right data to support it," he said. "Make sure that your data is embedded in all the tools your employees are using every day, and then bring in the right context.

"The combination of the right outcomes and the right data is what sets organizations up for success," Viswanathan continued.

And then, speed to insight and context are critical, he added."When you do not have the data in place to understand who is coming to your website, what was their intent, and what was their effort involved, you are losing out."

The impending deprecation of third-party cookies will only challenge companies further, Cahill added.

That's why Newbold-Knipp is encouraging companies right now ;to look at how they can better use the data they have. "Think about how you can take the data you already have and use it to walk in your customers'; shoes."

Data was not the only business area impacted by the pandemic, though, as another keynote session revealed. Katy Tynan, a Forrester principal analyst, reported that maintaining the right company culture became a challenge as workforces moved to a hybrid or remote model.

Company culture, Tynan said, blends a shared purpose, behavioral norms, rituals, and artifacts. And it goes far beyond the values the company projects. "Values are what we say explicitly that we do. Culture is what we actually do," she explained.

Company culture, Tynan added, needs to be the same at all levels of the company. "It's not just for the little people. It is for all of us."

But developing the company culture is not a cookie-cutter process. There is no one playbook for everyone. Instead, companies need to listen to their employees and customers and build their playbooks based on that, according to Tynan.

To find the company culture, she urged companies to develop a purpose; develop a culture plan that works in all work environments, invest in front-line managers, and then to listen to employees and learn from them.

"A company is not a family. It's a community," Tynan said. "Belonging is a really meaningful metric for how people feel about their jobs. And you can close relational gaps with authentic leadership."

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