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How To Understand Your Customers Better With A ‘360-Degree’ Big Data View

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Organisations are striving to better understand their customers and it’s data, used properly, that makes all the dfference

What do we mean by a 360-degree view?

This is definitely not a new concept. In fact, it’s been around for a very long time but, as Jeff Rothwell, systems engineer at Apache Hadoop-based software firm, Cloudera, explains: “These days, we’re talking about a much broader and richer set of information sources that are now being used to populate a customer 360 profile.”

What do we want from a 360-degree customer view?

Simply put, it’s a real-tcustomer serviceime view of an individual customer at any given point in time.

It’s a profile that cuts across all of your products, systems and channels to market to allow you to ascertain a complete customer journey through your organisation.

For example, JustGiving is looking at data analytics to better understand charitable support and Comic Relief is working on an internal ‘single customer view’ project that will allow them to see what causes people support in terms of both finance and engagement.

Rothwell says: “Once you have that profile in place it will help you to deliver consistent, personalised and relevant content to your customers.”

Why are companies rethinking their approach to customer 360?

Customer expectations have changed significantly. Today customers expect a very different level of experience when they interact with organisations.

They expect a single, consistent interaction with your business as a whole regardless of the channel that they’re interacting with. and they expect those interactions to be both personalised and in the right context, as well as with the right timing. Don’t present an offer at a completely inappropriate time in the customer journey. And then they want that interaction to be relevant.

“They want relevant information and relevant offers put in front of them at the right time and in the right context,” adds Rothwell. “That’s their expectation. Sometimes that expectation is called the customer segment of one.”


How can organisations go about creating the segment of one?

With great difficulty. And that difficulty generally falls into four key areas.

1. The propensity of ‘data silos’

Data that’s fragmented and located in multiple applications and systems is causing organisations all sorts of headaches.

2. Data volumes

The sheer volume now of all the data flowing from an organisation is at a completely different scale than it was even two years ago.

3. New data sources

We’ve got lots of new data sources – data sources that we never really knew or expected to have to handle. We have semi-structured data and multi-structured data, we have streaming and real-time data. All this new data is actually very important if we’re going to build a true 360 degree profile.

4. Infrastructure

Even if you think you can handle all of these different data silos and all he different types of data, and the sheer volume of data, to do it with your existing infrastructure is probably going to be prohibitively expensive.

How can you overcome these challenges?

Organisations spanning all industries are in pursuit of Customer 360, which aims to integrate and enrich customer information across multiple channels, systems, devices and products in order to improve the interaction experience and maximise the value delivered.

Rothwell says: “At Cloudera we have an Enterprise Data Hub. It’s a capability that allows organisations to ingest data from any source on any system, and to be able to store that data in practically unlimited amounts in a reliable and cost-effective manner. Then you can process that data from one uniformed platform. It’s completely underpinned by the Apache Hadoop infrastructure. It allows you to build multiple tailored application on the same Enterprise Data Hub and, because it’s one platform, as you increase the workflows on that platform, the overall ROI starts to improve.”

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