Organizations throughout the world are more closely aligning themselves around customers’ needs and brand experiences rather than around traditional product or business lines. Data analytics is at the heart of this trend claims a new study.

This growing reliance on data analytics is resulting in a major shift in how companies conduct business and respond to changing market dynamics, the study says. Price and product lessen in importance as differentiators.

The study, conducted by Forbes Insights, in association with Pitney Bowes, is entitled "Understanding Your Customer: The Foundational Enabler of a Superior Experience With Customer Information Management." It notes that before a business can become customer-oriented, it needs to know who its customers are—as well as where they are, what they’re interested in and the context of the relationship. Hence, the growing dependence on analytics.

“The problem for many companies is that understanding the data can be complicated by various quality issues: distributed and decentralized storage, duplicate (or multiple) records, and records that are otherwise incomplete or inaccurate,” the study notes. “This often leads to multiple records for the same customer, with conflicting or missing information in many records. Rather than facilitating a single or 360-degree view of each customer, these classic scenarios are emblematic of poor data quality.”

Issues related to data quality can be especially troublesome for some industries, such as banking and insurance, the study cautions.

“The question of data quality is broader than just a foundation for a superior customer experience. Being compliant with national and international regulations to mitigate and identify illegal activity, like money laundering and fraud, makes it imperative for these institutions to have an accurate handle on their customers’ data,” the study stresses.

Some of the biggest fines incurred by financial institutions and banks lately have been for the kinds of compliance issues that can be mitigated by a more effective approach to customer information management.

“This report underlines the importance of clear, valid and accessible data on your customers,” says Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer and Head of the CMO Practice at Forbes Media. “Otherwise, it’s impossible to control the quality of the customer experience.”

“Business solutions can only be as good as the data you retrieve,” says Jack Bullock, Senior Vice President of Digital Commerce Solutions, Pitney Bowes. “For many organizations, clean data that can support a holistic view of customers and their related transaction streams is becoming more crucial when it comes to making business decisions. Missing the mark could result in poor brand experience for your clients and even fines, legal action and revenue loss.”