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Jill Dyché

There you are! What took you so long? This is my blog and it's about YOU.

Yes, you. Or at least it's about your company. Or people you work with in your company. Or people at other companies that are a lot like you. Or people at other companies that you'd rather not resemble at all. Or it's about your competitors and what they're doing, and whether you're doing it better. You get the idea. There's a swarm of swamis, shrinks, and gurus out there already, but I'm just a consultant who works with lots of clients, and the dirty little secret - shhh! - is my clients share a lot of the same challenges around data management, data governance, and data integration. Many of their stories are universal, and that's where you come in.

I'm hoping you'll pour a cup of tea (if this were another Web site, it would be a tumbler of single-malt, but never mind), open the blog, read a little bit and go, "Jeez, that sounds just like me." Or not. Either way, welcome on in. It really is all about you.

About the author >

Jill is a partner co-founder of Baseline Consulting, a technology and management consulting firm specializing in data integration and business analytics. Jill is the author of three acclaimed business books, the latest of which is Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth, co-authored with Evan Levy. Her blog, Inside the Biz, focuses on the business value of IT.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Jill's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

In which two worlds--data quality and CRM--finally collide, and Jill relishes the soft, chewy center. (Yeah, we know, it's a mixed metaphor, but you'll get the point when you read the blog.)

Remember those old commercials where a boy on a bicycle eating a candy bar crashes into a cute girl licking her peanut butter sandwich? Bang! Then, reeling, they turn to one another and variously exclaim, "Hey, you put peanut butter in my chocolate!" and "Hey, you put chocolate in my peanut butter!" As a kid, I wondered whether bumping heads with a boy was worth the discovery of a peanut butter cup. As a grown-up, my answer is a hearty, "Yes! Especially with a glass of cold milk!"

In another fateful combination, data quality vendors are pairing up with CRM vendors to create a veritable confection of functionality. While many IT executives have paid lip service to the importance of data quality to customer-focused programs, they've been flummoxed about how to link data standardization and cleansing processes with incumbent CRM systems.

As I've written before, data quality can make or break a CRM program. Companies have invested so much in customer-focused programs like operational CRM, market research, strategic selling, and, of course, business intelligence. But the success of each of these hinges on accurate information about our customers.

The bad news is that for many CRM projects, data quality was an afterthought. Companies are learning the hard way that data quality matters. There's a clear link between poor data and suboptimal business performance. Companies that should know better nevertheless continue pitching products to customers who already have them. They send marketing mailings to the wrong addresses. They greet customers by the wrong name when they have them on the phone or welcome them in the store. Without exception, every one of my CRM clients are begging for additional data. Hefty fines for watch list and regulatory noncompliance have amplified their pleas.

Thankfully vendors have begun addressing the problem, ensuring that data quality functionality is more tightly-coupled with CRM. The recent announcement by Microsoft and Group 1 Software highlights the promise of such partnerships.

"We've seen the best CRM efforts as the ones that build data quality in up front," says Bernie Gracy, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at Group 1 Software. "Group 1 considers CRM a major strategic opportunity--and so do our customers."

Microsoft's Brad Wilson agrees. In a new webcast hosted by CIO Magazine--featuring Group 1's Gracy, Wilson, and yours truly--the General Manager of CRM, describes how Microsoft is embracing data quality, and witnessing new customer wins in the process. "Companies need to spend more time investing in customers of higher value," Wilson says on the webcast. "The quality of data drives the quality of decisions you make in your business."

Studies show that the more relevant your interactions with customers the more loyal they become. And making your customer interactions relevant means leveraging each touchpoint as an opportunity not only to use information you have about the customer for competitive advantage, but also to solicit additional data from loyal customers and prospects who want to do business with you. Better data means better customer conversations. And that's a tasty combination indeed!

Technorati Tags: CRM, Business Intelligence, Data Quality

Posted December 3, 2006 8:22 PM
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