Data integration may sound like just another marketing term, but it’s important to any company seeking to optimize the scads of customer data now achievable through technology.
The term describes the centralization of multifaceted, multichannel customer data into a single view (often housed in the cloud) to create a complete, 360-degree profile of your customer base. Savvy companies are using it to eliminate corporate silos and combine internal and external information of all kinds so they can better zero in on customer characteristics and behaviors.
The bonus? Once the data is aggregated, its value can multiply as machine-learning algorithms search it for patterns and insights not available through other methods. And because machine learning is iterative, it’s constantly improving itself to reduce its margin of error and hone your data to meet your needs.
Maximizing data integration should allow you to compete effectively in an environment in which businesses are scrambling to make the best use of data-driven insights.
“Integrating information about your customers allows you to see how the variables work together and are related, driving deeper customer insight about why some customers churn, why customers recommend your business to others and why other customers buy more from your business,” explains a recent article on Insidebigdata.com.
Not surprisingly, an Experian survey this year found 31 percent of companies worldwide plan a data integration project over the next 12 months. A whopping 95 percent say they use data to power business opportunities, 84 percent see it as important to business strategy and 61 percent use it to drive revenues.
What steps can you take toward data integration?
- Consider the data you need as part of your comprehensive business strategy. Which tools will best help you secure that data?
- A custom solution may best be tailored to your brand and business, but another option is a hybrid that combines third-party solutions with your in-house systems. Either way, consider the resources and input of your IT and marketing departments when deciding what’s needed.
- Ensure the integration system you install is scaleable. Cloud applications make it quick and easy to add new, customized company functions with little investment or IT support — as long as capacity for expansion is incorporated from the onset.
- Consider lifecycle management costs, custom application deployments, business agility and the field-level capabilities of the integrations as you formulate your plans.
- Understand up to 80 percent of your integration efforts may involve data transformation, i.e., getting the info to the right format and quality for analysis, advises Insidebigdata.com. “Poor data quality will undermine and undo many of the advantages integration provides,” the article notes. “Rather than enacting an integration strategy that unintentionally furthers this damage, businesses should first focus on getting the data right.”
Right now, data integration may seem like just another task to cross off your list of necessary investments. But it’s rapidly becoming crucial as businesses across industries use it to hone in on key customers.
“The success of a company’s data strategy will be directly related to the success of its integration strategy,” advises John Joseph on Datacenterjournal.com. “Getting the right data to the right people at the right time to make meaningful business decisions is a competitive advantage, and can increase profitability.”