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Transformation, Apr 09, 2021

Why ‘connectedness’ is vital to achieve personalisation and a single view of the customer

Nigel Hughes

Recently, I’ve spent time working with CMOs from two consumer companies. Unsurprisingly, and consistent with prevailing thinking, both cite personalisation and a single view of the customer as their key priorities. However, another theme was also prevalent - one which is less widely discussed but seemingly just as important: connectedness.

In this blog, I uncover the four types of connectedness that these CMOs were looking to link up and explain how each is key in achieving their personalisation and single view goals.

Connected Experience

Connected Experience is how the organisation connects with their end customer and provides tailored engagement. Dynamic customer profiling can be utilised to derive robust customer insights and omnichannel activation via owned and paid marketing channels. This drives personalised customer engagement and conversion and it is the area in which most marketing organisations are investing significant time and money.

However, it requires a single view where all touch points are unified to produce a ‘golden record’ of all data points for a given customer. This single view can only come from having ‘Connected Insights’ across the organisation’s data.

Connected Insights

Customer data is the fuel for providing remarkable experiences. However, most marketers lack the unified view of their customer that is necessary to optimise these experiences. This holistic, consolidated view stitches together all applicable first and third-party customer data sources and it is here that the first challenge within organisations normally occurs. Data silos, with disparate data ownership, represent major barriers to obtaining a unified view.

Data silos are not necessarily bad in themselves and can support analysis of, and focus on, specific business opportunities. When unconnected, however, they can encourage behaviours that are beneficial only to owners and are often not in the best interest of the overall business or its customers. Breaking down silos and giving access to data means that you will get much more exciting and innovative customer experiences.

As an example, we can look at how Hilton hotels uses data. In 2018, they introduced digital keys in some of their hotels, removing the wait time at receptions. This also enabled the company to collect data on their customers’ preferences in the hotel, from their thermostat proclivity to their room service orders, whilst allowing Hilton to receive real-time feedback. This information is made available, not just as conceptual data harvested from an application for the data team, but for all customer service representatives around the hotel. It allowed for Hilton to offer a more personalised service to their guests during their stay.

Unconnected and incompatible IT systems are one of the root causes of data silos, and unnecessarily so. Leveraging APIs and API-led connectivity to future-proof your IT infrastructure is the path to Connected Technology.

Connected Technology

It has become clear that organised and consistent first and third-party data ingestion, processing, and storage make up the unseen foundation behind an effective MarTech architecture, and to achieve this, marketers need connected technology. Unconnected technology stacks tightly coupled with inflexible systems and legacy architecture present significant and highly frustrating challenges when trying to connect data sources.

In a Harvard business review of 400 companies, achieving the single view of the customer is the biggest challenge in driving a personalised Customer Experience (CX). Many companies have and are creating bespoke “one off micro solutions” that increase complexity, don’t integrate properly, and ultimately cause marketers lose their single view as a result.

An integrated MarTech stack built on an effective technology architecture and decoupled from legacy constraints is a critical enabler for connectedness. Use of Cloud based solutions and API technology within robust architectural design means that legacy technology should not and does not need be a barrier. Further, by connecting across the organisation and working to a common operating model, organisations are able to prevent dilution of the company’s data assets and derive that single view.

Connected Organisation

As marketing operations are increasingly transitioning from traditional large-scale ‘big bang’ campaigns to flexible personalisation, we recognise a need to adapt how the organisation operates.

Typically captured under the title ‘Project to Product,’ the connected organisation incorporates methodologies like Agile and DevOps. It focuses on responsiveness to user feedback and changing market conditions, encouraging fluidity and mid-course adjustment in lieu of tying all budgeting and staffing decisions to an initial project plan.

Product management encourages organisations to measure success based on the value that their offerings deliver to customers rather than on any milestones reached during product creation. Most importantly, it is the breaking down of the pervasive silo mentality that inhibits and blocks all types of connectedness.            

In a nutshell

In order to reach the holy grail of a personalised experience through having the single view of the customer, organisations must ensure that connectedness is achieved internally. To do so, they must ensure that their MarTech stack is truly integrated, they are working in a flexible and responsive way to customers’ needs, and that they have access to all of the necessary data.

Keep your eyes peeled for our new whitepaper on this topic which talks about how to overcome these challenges and which is being released in May. In the meantime, take a look at some of our case studies.

Read more on customer experience and innovation

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