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If we all collectively chose one theme in today’s world of marketing and customer engagement, it would be simple: it’s data. It literally drives everything everyone does, from the highly sought after need for personalization, to managing logistics, to garnering business intelligence—the list is seemingly endless.

However, all of this data means absolutely nothing unless it can be leveraged collectively, something that seems to evade so many. And rightfully so, given the perceived complexity of the topic. In any business, there are a multitude of data sources and types. There are points and rewards databases, contact databases, eCommerce databases, mobile app databases, and so many more. And in almost every case none of these databases reside in the same system, resemble the same data type and, most importantly, can’t / don’t speak to one another.

Here is a perfect example. I have a wedding to attend in a few weeks and needed a new pair of dress shoes for the occasion. So I did what any middle-aged male would do, I walked into the first shoe store I saw and promptly bought the first pair of shoes I saw. Don’t judge me. 

So, with what I like to call my “efficient” shopping technique, I hurried to cash to pay and was promptly asked for my email address to email me my receipt. And, as an aside, good for them getting my email address while also saving paper—a win-win situation.

Of course, being the person I am, I immediately asked if that information was connected to my potential eCommerce profile for the store. What can I say, I like digging for information. The answer, not at all. Okay, fair as those two things are usually out of scope for many retailers as online and in-store are two very different departments. 

But I wanted more information, so asked the question: does it pertain to tracking purchase points, rewards, and so on? Again, a resounding “no,” and was asked if I’d like a points card. At this point I had already spent too much of the young lady’s time with a line-up forming behind me, so I politely declined and went on my way.

The outcome? I spent over $100, gave them my email address, and still they have no idea who I am, what I bought, or more importantly would like to buy, and none of the other systems know either. This my friends is exactly what I’m taking about—a world of data at one’s fingertips and yet a world of missed opportunities to connect with and sell more to the customer. 

The sad part is that the data issue is one of the easiest things to solve. The only thing that’s needed is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)—the magic machine that collects all data from all sources and makes it usable. Now, there is also the platform that actually leverages that data, but that story is for a different day. Today, let’s solve one challenge at a time. 

Taking disparate data sources such as what I described above—as simple as an email address—and tying it to other actions is literally one technological implementation away. That email, along with countless other data types from all sources, could be placed into one centralized repository within a very short period of time. 

Even better, it leads to the golden goose—the single-user-profile—the one thing that all marketers want and need to survive in the new and connected world that is all about personalization and data. It also means a constant connection with the customer, through any channel including online, in-app, or in-store.

So, if making the move to being able to make all data actually useful in its entirety is so easy, why aren’t more people doing it? Honestly, the answer is simple: people think it’s really hard so they don’t make it a priority. And they’d be right in many ways as CDPs and the ease of implementation are all new. 

The good part is that this first step is now an easy one to take. And if you don’t believe me, call me. Ask me any tough question you would like, I can guarantee I have the answer. That is as long as it’s about data and not my own personal poor shopping habits—those will never be explained. 

Andrew Armstrong

Andrew Armstrong

Chief Customer Officer

Andrew Armstrong is the Chief Customer Officer at omNovos – working globally with customers to design world-class customer engagement programs. He’s a prolific writer and speaker on topics including customer loyalty, personalization, and retail marketing technologies. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter - his open approach to all topics usually leads to a fun discussion and a few laughs.