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Customer data platform: Going beyond MDMs and CRMs

In today’s competitive buying market, customers have access to more content, purchasing channels, and brand options than ever before. With an overload of information and choices available, businesses can no longer survive by simply providing the bare minimum necessary to keep customers from leaving. Instead, they must demonstrate they understand and value their customers and can deliver exceptional experiences and outcomes.

While a highly relevant customer experience is essential, simply implementing a personalized marketing strategy is no longer enough. It’s necessary that organizations structure themselves around the customer across all lines of business. They must stop looking at customers from siloed marketing, sales, and service perspectives and leverage a 360-degree view of the customer that accounts for every interaction they have with the brand.

Several data management platforms and methods exist, like customer relationship management (CRM) and master data management (MDM), that organizations often leverage to help consolidate data sources, though these solutions still leave the burden of configuration, ongoing management, and compliance all on the shoulders of IT while isolating marketing and IT functions.

Beyond the traditional customer relationship management (CRM) platform

Creating highly personal experiences across all channels and touch points like email, social media, purchases, or contact centers, is extremely difficult when customer data is fragmented in multiple independent applications and departments. According to a marketing insights study by Adobe, 60 percent of companies still struggle to personalize content in real time. And according to Marketo, 78.6 percent of consumers said they are only likely to engage with a brand using coupons or other offers if those promotions are directly tied to how they have interacted with the brand previously.

While typical customer relationship management (CRM) platforms that most organizations rely on can help surface some customer data, they typically only deliver narrowly specific details like a customer’s name, address, or basic purchase history. In order to add or process additional types of data, organizations are challenged with integrating sources across multiple departments and third-party applications. Establishing and maintaining those connections can cost excess time and money, and to derive any actionable insights requires additional investment in machine learning or analytics capabilities.

Why master data management (MDM) misses the mark

With a set of processes requiring configuration and management by IT, master data management brings together data throughout an organization and essentially delivers a master record, ensuring data accuracy and consistency. What it can do is help provide a singular point of reference for structured data  including customer names, phone numbers, and transactions, yet it can’t account for the large quantity of unstructured and event-based data  such as social media engagements, emails, phone call transcripts, etc. generated by today’s customers. Master data management still requires that data be integrated in multiple platforms and external marketing tools in order to surface insights and take action, which is difficult and time consuming for IT and creates potential slowdowns and roadblocks for marketing teams who need the ability to react immediately to customer needs.

Deliver customer-centric experiences with a customer data platform

The ability to deliver exceptional experiences at scale requires a complete, unified view of customers from both transactional and behavioral data that enables intelligent, actionable insights, something that many companies still struggle to achieve and results in poor, disjointed customer experiences. This is where the customer data platform (CDP) is helping to evolve the customer experience landscape, providing organizations with the means to not only gain a deep understanding of their customers, but to then leverage insights that power proactive action and meaningful engagement throughout every touch point.

What sets Dynamics 365 Customer Insights apart?

In a world where companies have only a few minutes to make a lasting impression, organizations need to do more than simply compile customer data – they need to derive actionable insights and get those insights into the hands of every employee who interacts with customers. Marketing, sales, and service professionals need firsthand access to holistic customer information, enabling seamless and intelligent customer experiences no matter which department they’re interacting with.

With Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, organizations can seamlessly unify data from every channel in a much simpler fashion and derive insights to enable intelligent action at every touch point. Effortlessly connect data from every source of interaction and arm employees with a single source of truth right within the external business applications they use every day including seamless, pre-built integration with the rest of the Dynamics 365 marketing, sales, and service applications many organizations already leverage.

Unlike other customer data platforms, Dynamics 365 Customer Insights is a self-service solution that enables faster time to value with zero to minimal consulting engagement, freeing up time, costs, and resources typically required from IT. Atop a unified data estate, Dynamics 365 Customer Insights utilizes analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to create 360-degree customer profiles with actionable insights, adding proprietary customer data enrichment with Microsoft Graph for more complete customer segments. Organizations can connect to a myriad of data sources to seamlessly run analytics on their data estate through Power BI, build custom lines of business applications through PowerApps, and leverage intelligent insights to trigger business processes in Microsoft Flow. Additional extensibility is made possible through a large ecosystem of Microsoft partners to help organizations optimize and tailor solutions that address specific industry or business needs, maximizing the capabilities of their marketing, sales, and service departments.

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