21 Oct 2007
Organizations that focus on individual consumers often to struggle to identify their customers at the most basic level – their name. There are many reasons for this:
- Capture-dependent: spelling mistakes
- Customer-dependent: name changes
- Application-dependent: packing multiple fields into a single field
- Architecture-dependent: conflicting names for the same person across systems
These different types of issues then become increasingly difficult to address in a complex organization such as a retail bank or telco where dozens to hundreds of systems may hold customer records.
Collectively, Customer Data Integration (CDI) means doing all these things well and helps address what was a cause of failure on many Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementations. Vendors such as IBM, Syperion, Initiate and Oracle offer CDI-specific Solutions and the market is undergoing rapid growth.
Over the last few years there have been significant benefits to addressing these issues through better governance, data quality improvement programmes and upgrades to new applications that were more sophisticated in their capability to store customer data.
This involves fixing historical issues and minimizing the chance of errors occurring in the future.
One of the challenges that globalization brings is around name recognition. Techniques that have been applied over the past few years simply do not work as well with many Eastern European, North African, Middle Eastern and Asian names. The phonetic translations that convert Arabic names into a Western form are typically inconsistent.
Living in London, I see the Retail Banking sector facing perhaps the greatest complexity worldwide. Rapidly changing demographics require new techniques and technologies to solve this name recognition issue. Once again, big vendors are moving into this space through acquisition – with IBM offering a specific product – GNR – to meet the globalization name challenge.