• June 2, 2003

Hot Seat: Ruth Fornell on Data Quality

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Ruth Fornell is no stranger to the challenges marketing faces today: helping grow revenues, meeting customer demands, and proving ROI. Fornell, formerly CMO of NCR's Teradata division and now vice president, payment and imaging solutions for NCR's financial services division, recognizes that CRM can help marketing meet those goals. She also knows a thing or two about the role data plays in CRM initiatives. She recently shared some insights with CRM magazine: CRM magazine:
What are the most important issues regarding data in the context of CRM? Ruth Fornell: There are two. The first is quality. A CRM initiative can backfire if you're working with poor data. But it's not just the accuracy, it's also the timing of the information. Thirty-day-old data may be accurate, but it may also be stale, so of lesser quality. Timely access to information can provide a competitive advantage. The other issue is organizational stovepipes and politics. This approach takes away from companies that need a single view of the customer. CRM: When planning an implementation or upgrade, where does data fit on the list of priorities? Fornell: In the core message of what really drives the success of CRM, the data is far down the line. A successful CRM implementation has a solid strategy that starts from the top down. It's a business strategy, a customer-centric philosophy. At Harrah's, for example, it began with the CEO and CIO. The CEO [initiated] one customer loyalty program across the company's 25 properties, instead of allowing individual stovepipes of programs at each property. If the strategy comes from the top and is driven from there, everything else follows. So data is an issue, but there is a lot before that. CRM: Who should take ownership of a company's customer data? Fornell: I ask this question of customers all the time and there's a certain spread. My experience has been that there's a shared responsibility between the business side and IT. Some companies are adding a role like data steward. It often moves around a bit before it finds a home, but companies that are customer-centric are more likely to have an owner of the data.
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