In a world where acronyms seemingly spring from thin air, CDI (customer data integration)
has evolved from just another acronym into a necessary business solution for industries
such as healthcare, financial services, hospitality, public safety, retail and
technology. CDI addresses problems that increasingly plague businesses as they
struggle to manage ever-growing silos of customer data, including data integrity,
customer service issues and missed revenue opportunities.
To many businesses, data can be both a blessing and a curse, providing an opportunity
to better understand customers and improve service and revenue opportunities,
while creating challenges and being costly to integrate and manage. Every business
has different customer data scattered across multiple databases, which, depending
on the business, may exist in separate databases for members, call centers,
online access, financial tracking and more. Often each database stores data
in its own distinct format that differs from the format of the same data located
in other databases.
These problems are compounded through mergers and acquisitions, and when new
customers are added or divested. As online accessibility has increased, it has
enabled existing customers to create new profiles that may duplicate existing
records. Companies know that there is overlapping and incomplete data, but most
have been largely unable to find a solution to this problem at a cost they can
afford. The result is lost revenue and cross-sell and up-sell opportunities,
inadequate customer service and inaccurate business analytics. An incomplete
customer view becomes increasingly problematic as customers grow to expect more
from the companies they do business with.
In the late 90s, complex customer relationship management (CRM) systems were
developed to extract and consolidate customer data from company databases and
centralize it as a first step toward reengineering business processes. While
well-intentioned, CRM created its own array of problems. These systems required
very complex infrastructures and architectures, and featured technology that
was unable to keep up with the pace of constantly shifting business processes,
changing competitive pressure, and ongoing acquisitions, divestments and upgrades
that continually altered customer data. The resulting CRM outcomes rarely delivered
on their promised ROI.