Obsessive data collection stifling 360° customer view

angry laptopThe marketing holy grail of building a 360-degree view of your customers is still just a pipedream for most, with only 14% of firms having built such a system, but 82% are not giving up just yet and say they still aspire to this goal.

So says a new Gartner study, which quizzed just under 500 marketing, IT and other enterprise leaders responsible for customer data initiatives.

Interestingly, for those who had who achieved a 360-degree view of their customers, customer data platforms (CDPs) were the most frequently cited technology used to house it, displacing customer relationship management (CRM) platforms.

However, respondents still working toward a 360-view were more likely to identify CRM as their preferred platform.

Even so, acquiring a CDP was not by itself sufficient, since three times as many respondents had adopted a CDP as had actually achieved a 360-degree view of their customer.

Gartner’s survey found three-fifths (60%) of respondents believe they need every data point possible to achieve a 360-degree view of their customer, but nearly half of respondents said they did not achieve alignment on what constitutes a 360-degree view, complicating any technology acquisition.

Gartner Marketing vice president analyst Benjamin Bloom said: “Marketing teams have been engaged in a data arms’ race over the past decade, attempting to use technology to collect every conceivable data point on customers with the assumption that more data is better.”

“When organisations don’t have consensus on a 360-degree view of the customer, they risk investing in the wrong tools. Beyond technology, they risk collecting bad data, incorrect data, or, worse, potentially risky data that may run afoul of privacy expectations and evolving government regulations.”

Acquiring and leveraging customer data continues to be enticing to business leaders, as consumer behaviours are forced to change through the adoption of channels such as digital commerce.

However, respondents noted that exhaustive data collection simply is not worth the effort. In fact, nearly three-quarter (72%) who believe they need every data point to be successful also believe that the more data they collect, the less benefit they see.

Gartner Marketing vice president analyst Lizzy Foo Kune commented: “The two major hurdles that organisations face when attempting to achieve a 360-degree view of the customer are poor customer data quality and the lack of consensus on what exactly a 360-degree customer view is.

“Digital marketing leaders hope that this view of the customer will unify cross-functional data in their organisations to drive personalisation and retention. However, few are actually successful.”

Organisations that have achieved a 360-degree view of their customer share some notable hallmarks that all companies should keep in mind. These include creating a consensus on what a 360-degree view means; overcoming data quality issues; and implementing a cross-functional governance structure for customer data.

The survey also revealed that those who had achieved a 360-degree view were more likely to say they were motivated to improve product features.

This suggests that successful organisations invest in product innovation that can create meaningful customer value in exchange for data collection.

Successful organizations are also more likely to be using artificial intelligence and machine learning to support achievement of business objectives. These technologies may support novel experiences for customers and efficiency gains for the enterprise, Gartner concluded.

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