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  • Writer's pictureBain & Company

Big brands still fail to understand customers despite all the technology solutions available

Amido, a vendor-agnostic technical consultancy specializing in assembling and integrating proven cloud technologies to improve customer data and identity management, reports that six key verticals are struggling to create customer identity profiles in a fast-paced, digitally transformed environment, despite current technological developments already invested in.

CIOs and CMOs interviewed across Retail, Financial Services, Media, Automotive and Industry, Logistics and Utilities all admit that creating the holy-grail of a single customer view is of the single, most strategic importance to business development and customer retention, but aren’t realizing the potential that already exists in their infrastructure and the complementary technologies they need to deploy to achieve this.

Forrester Research states that 49 per cent of global decision makers place ‘improving the use of data and analytics technology as a high priority.’ However, Amido’s report finds that although the industries researched are collecting customer data to try and create personalized services, they are lacking in solutions to share and translate this data into insight due to pools of data being siloed. Alan Walsh, CEO of Amido, states: ‘Our report clearly reveals that all organisations see customer identity and creating a single customer view as a rich resource, but seem unsure about how to achieve this – even though they know that the lines between marketing and IT have blurred. Both the CIOs and CMOs need to realize that the solution is rarely a single product to answer to a complex enterprise-wide problem, meaning integration of technologies is inevitable. In most cases, the answer is a hybrid-IT approach to multiple products and some custom build. By using cloud-based solutions, verticals are able to affordably collaborate their software to ‘talk to’ each other, which will enable data-pooling across disparate parts of the organisation – once you do this, you’re on your way to creating that single customer view.’

Marketing and Technology Departments are NOT Collaborating

The report finds that technology is seen as more of a business function and therefore marketing’s needs are bypassed, as is the customer’s. Creating technology best practices are essential when building an insight team with a strong skill set in data science, technology and marketing, especially when assembling a full customer view. A more joined up approach to customer data across the organisation will help to define strategic and targeted marketing campaigns, thus leading to increased personalisation of services and promotions. The CIOs and CMOS across all verticals agreed that both departments seek a greater understanding of the customer’s identity to provide a more personalised service, but without the right tools, marketing is very retrospective which is a hindrance to developing campaigns that will engage and predict the customer’s future journey and buying behavior.

Chris Gray, Director of Technology at Amido, adds: ‘Combining the expertise, knowledge and resources of Technology and Marketing departments will create a center of excellence, one that utilises machine learning, data warehousing and customer behavior information from multiple sources. This all creates that holy- grail, 360 view of the customer’s identity, which is the foundation needed for effective personalisation. The fact is, across all the sectors we spoke with, customer data is mainly owned by the marketing and commercial teams; but true customer identity resides in the data the customer is willing to share – and getting people to share information is a challenge. With Gartner predicting that by 2018, 50 per cent of IT and identity access management programmes will be focused on both enterprise and customer-facing infrastructures as the two spheres evolve into one, leaders need to start working towards joining up their information by collaborating their technology solutions.’

Who’s Harnessing Customer Loyalty?

Breaking down the boundaries of what data customers are willing to share and combining it with the data held by organisations, creates a more cohesive view of the customer across the business and therefore the potential to provide a more personalised service – a challenge accepted by all six verticals. Leaders in the Retail and Media industries are the two that face the most online disruption and seem to thus be making more headway with customer identity management, but they are still struggling to turn a direct-to-consumer model into a loyal customer base owing to digital variety and choice; and both industries successfully use social log-in, cookies and online behaviour patterns to offer unique personalisation to its customers.

A few respondents interviewed named Amazon as an excellent benchmark for personalisation and providing that ubiquitous mobile, omni-channel experience. Amazon does offer a good service and can recommend products based on previous purchases, but Alan Walsh, CEO, Amido, comments: ‘Amazon’s customer identity solution is not where they excel – its purchase recommendation is basic as information on the customers is based on what they previously bought and does not take into account anything else about that individual. A joined up identity strategy reduces spam and personalisation excellence comes when you use insight gained from multiple data sources (social profiles, email marketing, order or browsing history, customer services, transactional history, cookies, online journey etc.) to offer up products and services that customers want, when they want them and in the right channel. You can then apply machine learning to predict future behaviour and pre-empt what customers want before they know they want it. One technology product cannot do all this – it needs a combination.’

Financial services are still laggards in adopting a single customer view, yet leaders in this industry agree that this is the sector where customer identity management technology can have the most significant impact on the customer and therefore the ability to retain the business of a customer. Logistics believes that the internet of things (IoT) and analysing behaviour patterns of customer usage (such as next day delivery) will empower them to merge and mirror the services of both the physical and digital world, building contextual data alongside information they already have on the customer.

Mobility and the Omni-channel

All verticals accepted that mobility is ubiquitous and is thus a challenge and an opportunity when adopting policies to utilize contextual data. Customers are demanding brands to be specific to them across all channels and mobility adds an additional layer of complexity for marketing and IT leaders to address. For the Media and Logistics industries, mobility is an excellent opportunity to getting closer to the customer as location-based information smartens the services and information they offer back to their customers (advertisers for media and suppliers for logistics, for example.) But despite the opportunities of this added layer of data, the omni-channel approach has fractured organisations across all industries due to the inability to share/pool together data captured from multiple channels across an organisation. Andrew Sell, Head of Digital Marketing at Prudential UK, says: ‘We have a sophisticated Enterprise Data Warehouse that combines data from across our business, but there are still pretty big repositories of data that are not yet joined to this platform.’

Alan Walsh, Amido CEO, concludes: ‘Industries need to understand that identity is different to personalisation. Identity underpins personalisation – unless you have a complete view of the identity of your customer, how can you offer a truly personalised service? Customer identity is a huge part of experience, especially the merging of the digital and physical world as the transition between the two should be seamless. Once you get this right, it presents huge opportunities for all industries and across all channels. But you need to start with your technology first and most organisations already have the software; now you just have to make them talk to each other as digitalisation of the customer’s behaviour is not going away any time soon.’

  • C-Suite leaders in marketing and technology admit to not using customer identity to its full efficiency

  • Six key verticals fail to create a single customer view owing to current technology deployments, such as CRM solutions and SAP or Oracle based ERP or BI infrastructures

  • Marketing and IT departments need to work together in order to make contextual customer data relevant to the brand and product, to provide personalised services

  • Omni-channel strategies have siloed the organisation, making a single view of the customer harder to achieve

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