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Using Customer Data Starts with Collecting it Intelligently

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August 03, 2012

Using Customer Data Starts with Collecting it Intelligently

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Just about every company is swimming in data these days, and how to best process and use the data is still an open question for most companies. A recent webinar by CRM Magazine and data management companies KANA and Coveo (News - Alert), “Taming the Velocity & Variety of Customer Data,” addressed how to get a better handle the virtual mountains of data.

First, most companies are not actually generating lots of data—they’re generating lots of noise, said KANA VP of product marketing, Vikas Nehru. While lots of data is recorded, much of it is not useful and should be ignored.

“The key point here is that to get to the real data, you have to filter out a lot of the noise,” he said during the webinar.

Other data myths, he said, are that data is for social media feeds and sentimental analysis, which is not true, and that data is “unstructured.” It isn’t unstructured, he noted—it is “multi-structured,” which means there is a structure to it just not a single structure; HTML has a structure, as do chats and video. But they are not the same structure.

“Big data really is multi-structured, and you have to have the capacity and the tools and the technology to handle multi-structure data as opposed to just unstructured data,” Nehru explained.

The main task is filtering the data and then making it actionable, he said. The way to do that today is by putting all the data together into one unified conversation and then making sense of it with semantic analysis software. The path is collecting the data, letting the software provide overall context for analysis, and then creating automated systems such as case creation and auto routing to put the insights immediately into practice. This third step often is overlooked, reducing the impact of the data analysis.

Diane Berry, the senior VP of marketing and communications for Coveo, hammered home the need for collecting data into a unified conversation.

Most companies have visibility into less than 25 percent of customer data, according to a recent study by Coveo, she said. The study found that 58 percent of companies surveyed are struggling to bring together all the data, freeing it from its various information silos.

She pointed out that this is big cost concern, with 22 percent of knowledge worker’s time wasted by recreating, searching and assembling information that already existed in the organization. Perhaps worse, 42 percent of employees surveyed in the study said they accidentally used the wrong information at least once per week.

Federating and normalizing all the data is key, she said, creating the unified index Nehru mentioned. The second step is creating role-based access to the data to make it personalized and contextually relevant.

The goal is that as soon as the information enters the system, she said, it is available and actionable for everyone.

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Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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