CRM Lessons for Big Data


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Big data is a huge topic in Customer experience (no pun intended). Big data is bandied about now, primarily driven by the mounds of social media related data; companies can collect now (tweets, likes, shares, clicks, views, etc). The truth is we have always had big data stuffed away in large ERP systems of various ilk. In fact it can be said that CRM (the technology) was a solution for the realisation that we 1) had all of this data about customers in our various legacy systems and 2) needed a way of combining and synthesising it all to get the infamous “360 degree” view of the customer. True analytics was more of an afterthought in CRM back in those days. Then Customer experience came to the fore and now we are all talking about how social media is changing our approach to everything.

Well its true, social media data is big. More to the point, memory is cheap now so we are able to store the giga, tera, peta… bytes of data that are produced. So big data is not really about storage. It still is about integration to some degree (sort of like the problem of traditional CRM). The real challenge however is with analytics now. I suggest that there are two basic analytic approaches.

A recent blog written by Sudheer Raju outlines 5 key questions to ask when approachig a big data programme.

  • Is there enough volume to need big data solutions? This is probably the least of your concerns if you are thinking big data, especially if you already are into social media.
  • What are the goals of the big data programme? One of the primary problems with big data projects is a lack of clarity on its purpose. When this occurs companies often look to the technology providers to provide that purpose in their pre-sales messaging usually in the form of what’s possible. This may all sound sexy and cool but the reality is that it is a recipe for disaster.
  • Is there a long term strategy? This is related to the goals of the programme. Big Data ROI is assumed at this point much like CRM ROI was (and some would argue still is) assumed. The benefits of big data analytics are likely to be longer term.
  • Which is the best big data solution? Just like in the early days of CRM, there are a variety of players with some making more of a name for themselves than others. Some solutions are more or less complete packages; others are put together through acquisition or partnerships. In the end, what matters is whether whatever solution you choose matches your goals and long term strategy objectives.
  • How will we keep the data clean and relevant? The pace with which we are able to collect data is greater than our ability to store it over the long haul even with cheap storage. So you have to be clear about what it is you need and what is waste. Again. I think if you are clear on your goals and strategy up front this becomes an easier exercise for you.

So there are valuable lessons the young big data whippersnappers should learn from those who lived through the heady early days of CRM.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Qaalfa Dibeehi
Qaalfa Dibeehi is the author of "Achieving Customer Experience Excellence" and "Customer Experience Future Trends and Insights". He has 20+ years experience in the customer experience related space with particular emphasis on organisations that have a dual commercial and social/community responsibility. He is Non-Executive Director at Emerge. Previously, he was Chief Operating and Consulting Officer at Beyond Philosophy and Director at Fulcrum Analytics. He has an MBA from NYU and three other Masters Degrees from City U. of New York in Statistics, Psychology and Health Care Administration.


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