Skip to main content

Marketing owns the Customer! Does it?

A Customer
The customer, the elusive entity that every business is about – or at least should be about.
The customer gets targeted, marketed to, sold to, serviced, analysed, shall have a positive customer experience, and sometimes even is made happy.
The ‘customer’ as an entity is owned by the marketing department, err, the service department, oops, sales … or is it IT? After all IT is likely to run the CRM system. If it is not a cloud system, that is.
In reality it is different in every company and probably rightfully so.
On the other hand every department has their own requirements and the ‘owner’ of an entity is likely the one who decides upon the relative priorities of these requirements. And the fulfillment of requirements regularly decides upon the effectiveness and efficiency a business unit can operate with.
Now the marketing department is heavily invested in collecting all data that a customer leaves behind in order to understand behaviours and be able to entice known and unknown customers into buying (in the case of a B2C business) or solidifying the lead to an extent that it can be handed over to the sales department (in case of a B2B business). They are interested in lots of attributes, segmentation, slicing and dicing towards various dimensions. Born were Data Management Platforms, and Customer Data Platforms, and overall a very thriving industry of Marketing Technology.
The sales department now is interested in opportunity management, CPQ (configure, price, quote), relationship with the buyers and their potential influencers, closing the deal as efficiently as possible. Born is a world of sales support software.
The service departments are mainly dealing with customers post sales, or when there are questions/issues coming up in the course of the buying journey, trying to resolve them as efficient as possible. This helped the creation of more classes of enterprise software.
These times it is easy to purchase and deploy them, with the help of the cloud and decentralized budgets.
All these types of software regularly have their own data store and, of course, different data models. And, as they are often implemented locally, they are also not integrated, with all the negative consequences this has.
As the ‘customer’ is one important piece of the enterprise data model an important consequence is that suddenly there is different customer information at different places. There is no single ‘truth’ anymore, not even different views on the same data, just different data with little chance of consolidation that is left.
But, in the context of their own jobs (to be done) the individual departments get closer to their optimal process.
Just that this optimal process is not likely to be close to a global optimum, which would be defined around the customer’s job to be done.

The Solution?

Given all this: Who should own the customer and the customer data? Someone needs to.
I would argue that it should not be a single business unit. They have their local objectives (which are not always directly inferred from global objectives) and tend to prioritise their own goals over other business units’ goals; and they surely do not have the skills necessary for proper data modeling.
I would also argue that it is neither a group. This normally leads to no one feeling accountable and thus will not yield results.
In conclusion this leaves a department that delivers a service to the other business units. As we are talking technology here the logical candidate is IT.
The precondition for this to work is that the CIO sees him-/herself as an enabler to the business, and conversely also is expected to be in this role.
Dilbert and Mordac; Source: Scott Adams
Dilbert and Mordac; Source: Scott Adams
A CIO these digital ages needs to be on the forefront of the business transformation that any digital transformation is.  And the enterprise data model as part of an enterprise architecture is part of this.
Am I dogmatic about this? No, as long as the enterprise architecture is part of a cross-business strategic unit – and has a cross-business governance body to ensure proper direction.
And it needs to stay nimble. This I am dogmatic about, because, in an adaptation of an SAP slogan: IT and business must run at the speed of the customer.
A tall order.

Last Year's Top 5 Popular Posts

A Love Affair - Nimble Smart Contacts for Outlook Mobile

Social Selling pioneer Nimble has an awesome start into 2017. First it got number 1 in CRM satisfaction by G2Crowd earlier in January, then friend and CRM godfather Paul Greenberg named Nimble a winner of the 2017 CRM Watchlist awards, and now Nimble announces the Smart Contacts add-in for Outlook, a deep integration into Outlook for iOS, with an integration into Outlook for Android coming soon. The Nimble Smart Contacts add-in brings the power of Nimble’s view on contacts to Outlook for mobile users, after the widget and Outlook add-on already offered this functionality for the web- and Outlook clients. The add-on follows the philosophy that for most companies the e-mail account is still their CRM system; given this, this is a straightforward enhancement. Nimble acknowledges that there are two main email systems used in businesses: Gmail and Office365, and now fully supports them both. This integration delivers the profiling data that the Nimble back end gathers practically at any plac…

Mass Distraction - The Case for a Consolidated Marketing Platform

These days, customer experiences increasingly need to be delivered with the help of technology. This does not mean that direct interactions and people are no more important in marketing, sales, or service; on the contrary, but that an increasing number of customers is using the web, social media, chat, or an app to identify suitable products or services or to resolve an issue, when needed. The Customer Executive Board found that 57 per cent of the buying process is already completed before sales personnel get engaged. A Cisco retail study confirms the American Express findings and states that around 60 per cent of all in-store purchases start their journey electronically. The American Express Global Barometer claims that 60 per cent of all customers abandoned a purchase because of poor service experiences. Over the past 20 or so years the way products and services get sold and customer service as well as marketing get delivered to customers changed dramatically. Gone are the times wher…

Google and SAP - A Marriage in the Clouds

On Mach 8, 2017, SAP and Google announced another marriage in the cloud during Google’s Cloud Next event: SAP HANA is certified on Google’s Cloud Platform GCP, and is generally available now. SAP Cloud Platform and more products and solutions are to follow. The Google Cloud Launcher marketplace will be utilized to offer and deploy to and for customers and partners, starting with SAP HANA, express edition, which is already available, too. Further topics that are covered by this partnership are ·Improving Google’s containerization technologies for enterprise workloads ·Security, privacy, and integrity of customer data in the cloud. As part of this SAP software shall act as a data custodian (NB: How that works in legal and political environments remains to be seen) and joint solutions for access control, governance, risk and compliance shall get developed ·Integrate Google’s G Suite into SAP applications. This has already been implemented for Identity and Access Management. More on the still f…

Clash of Titans

Following all those announcements of AI, machine learning, IoT, IaaS, PaaS and what not over the past months, I was beginning to wonder where the big business software vendors are going. What is the game plan of Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP? How does newcomer Adobe fit in there? Maybe Amazon and Google, too; or Facebook. It is a time for another Quo Vadis – this time: Quo Vadis, industry? Clash of Titans In the last about 2 – 3 years we have seen a strong acceleration of innovation, or at least talk about it. -Cloud computing, offering nearly unlimited scalability and elasticity of computing resources has become main stream. Cloud computing also allows for nearly 100 per cent uptime -Since the advent of the iPhone (yes, I know this was earlier than 2013) the proliferation of sensors has increased a lot, resulting in them becoming cheaper and cheaper, allowing for an increasing number of data rich applications -This has also driven fast mobile connectivity, which has become nearly u…

Watson meets Einstein - Elementary my Dear Holmes

This week Salesforce and IBM announced a global strategic partnership to deliver joint, AI based solutions based upon Salesforce Einstein and IBM Watson, their respective AI platforms. The upcoming solutions will be designed to “deliver everage artificial intelligence and enable companies to make smarter decisions, faster than ever before. With the partnership, IBM Watson, the leading AI platform for business, and Salesforce Einstein, AI that powers the world’s #1 CRM, will seamlessly connect to enable an entirely new level of intelligent customer engagement across sales, service, marketing, commerce and more.” IBM Watson will be connected to the Salesforce Intelligent Customer Success Platform in a way that augments the customer specific insights that are delivered by Einstein with its structured and unstructured data that comes from a variety of sources, in order to be able to use specific as well as more generic, yet industry relevant, information. “Together, Watson and Einstein wil…