In today's highly competitive global marketplaces, the ability to develop, retain and grow a mutually beneficial relationship with customers enables organizations to gain competitive advantage – or perhaps simply survive. Customer expectations are growing too, as businesses implement new sales and marketing concepts. As more and more companies invest in customer-focused business processes, there is more and more demand for technologies to capture, store, process and deliver customer information.

To support the new vision and strategy of an organization, a customer relationship management (CRM) initiative is frequently a major driver. It can be one of the most extensive overhauls that an enterprise undertakes, involving just about every aspect of the enterprise's business, including organization charts, culture, incentive bonuses, technology and more.

The focus of this article is the technological aspect – the interplay between the analytical and tactical CRM technology components of the Corporate Information Factory (CIF) architecture. We examine one significant CRM business process – campaign management – to demonstrate how each component in the CIF comes together at the right time, and gives the business community the right information to act or react in the right manner toward its customers.

Analytical CRM

The analytical applications used in CRM as business intelligence (BI) rely on a data warehouse supplying data to the analytical applications found in various data marts. These analytical applications give insight into customer demographics, buying habits, profitability, lifetime value and so on. New capabilities such as these require the storage of a lot of detailed, historical data in the data warehouse, which is then delivered in a timely manner to the various marts.

The applications also require substantial analytical processing speed. Further, the results from one analysis are often used as the input into another. For example, the high lifetime value customers identified in the customer lifetime value application may be fed directly into the purchasing behavior application to determine what products these valuable customers are actually buying and which ones the company should offer to them next. The results from that analysis may, in turn, be provided to a clickstream analysis application to determine the best banner ads or coupons to offer.

Insight into customer behavior is not enough, however. This intelligence needs to be used to implement various tactics by accessing current information about customers from anywhere in the enterprise.

Tactical CRM

These tactical capabilities give the enterprise the ability to act upon its collective intelligence and customer knowledge. They also provide the organization with a current, enterprise-wide understanding of a customer, which facilitates a transition away from a "silo" business unit or functional viewpoint.

In a CRM-focused organization, these components are "where the action is." They allow business intelligence and comprehensive customer knowledge to be applied to modify customer behavior and manage customer touches. They consist of three CIF components: the operational data store (ODS); oper marts, supplying multidimensional access to current customer data; and the transaction interface (TrI), providing users with access to and the ability to update this customer information.

Figure 1 shows the CIF components that support analytical and tactical CRM applications as well as the processes that support their construction and usage, such as data acquisition, data delivery and enterprise data management.


Figure 1: Analytical Versus Tactical CRM Components

The comprehensive architecture used to coordinate and support these two important sets of components is the Corporate Information Factory (see Figure 2). This architecture serves as the road map for designing, implementing and then integrating the components into the business processes at the right time and right level. It is the CIF architecture that ensures successful enterprise- wide CRM implementations and e- business strategies.

Figure 2: The Corporate Information Factory

There have been numerous articles and books written about the CIF and CRM.1 Therefore, I won't delve into a description of their intricacies and implementation methodologies. Instead, I will offer a demonstration of how a proper implementation of these CIF components can support a complete customer-focused CRM process. The example CRM function I use for this demonstration is campaign management.

Analytical and Tactical CRM in Support of Campaign Management

One of the cornerstones of CRM is creating and executing smart campaigns – campaigns that are targeted to the right audience, that offer the audience the right products and that offer those products at the right time. What is needed for a company to execute just such a campaign?

Campaign management consists of three major activities.

  • Planning the campaign by analyzing past performances and responses.
  • Executing the campaign by communicating with customer and prospects.
  • Monitoring the campaign and making adjustments as necessary during the campaign

Obviously, there are multiple components in the CIF that come into usage at different times to support these three activities.

Planning the Campaign

Planning a campaign requires a variety of information such as:

Customer profiles: Historical information regarding the demographics and psychographics of the customer database for targeting the campaign. Some groups of customers are more likely to respond to specific forms of campaigns than others.

Past customer behavior: Critical information on how customers have reacted in the past to offers of products and services. Which customers are most likely to purchase products and services, who responded in the past, what types of campaigns have worked best for particular products, sales channels and customers?

Marketing costs: Data about the historical costs of previous similar campaigns or other marketing events.

Budgetary information: Information to create estimated revenues and expense garnered from previous similar campaigns. Determine revenues and expenses in past campaigns, leading to more accurate estimates for the current campaign.

Historical promotion performance: Information concerning the relative success of past marketing campaigns.

The data warehouse, data marts and their analytical applications provide the crucial analytical CRM information for this activity of campaign management. Each aspect is supported by a different analytical capability ­ a data mart for customer profiles, one for analyzing prior customer buying behaviors, yet another for tracking costs and budgeting information and, finally, one for scrutinizing past promotion performances. There is minimal need for tactical or current information during this activity.

The business intelligence interfaces must provide the tools so that marketing analysts can make sound decisions and plan the campaign accordingly. These interfaces must supply the means to pull all of this information together with the ability to:

  • Access the information – in a pain-free, easy-to- use fashion.
  • Present the results of analysis. Support for sophisticated analyses such as data mining and explorations may be needed in addition to traditional multidimensional analyses.
  • Design the campaign. The analyst must use analytical results to properly target a set of customers for the campaign.
  • Cost the campaign. Estimates of the costs are gleaned from previous efforts.
  • Communicate the design and projected results. The campaign must be socialized to the rest of the organization.
  • Prepare the campaign for execution. The marketing materials and collateral must be developed, CSRs trained, scripts written, etc., to ensure a smooth rollout of the campaign.

Executing the Campaign

Campaign execution activities require current information on the campaign status such as:

  • Inventory levels: Current levels of available products to ensure proper order fulfillment.
  • Actual revenues and costs: Up-to-the- minute numbers to determine whether the campaign is meeting expectations.
  • Key metrics: Are the right customers responding, are the right products being sold, etc.?
  • Fulfillment status: If fulfillment is not keeping up with the orders, the campaign will not be successful.
  • Response rates and levels: It is absolutely necessary to understand which customers are responding to targeting efforts and which products they are purchasing. Did the targeting analyses lead the campaign to reach the right people with the proper set of products?

Other actions surrounding campaign execution are needed to ensure a successful completion of the activity:

  • Managing fulfillment: Ensuring that orders are being filled in a timely manner.
  • Capturing customer interaction metrics: Information about how customers react to the campaign, which ones bought products, which ones didn't and why, along with other important information that may impact future campaigns.
  • Tracking costs and revenues: Capturing actual costs and revenues to instantly determine whether the campaign is on track.
  • Continually adjusting interactive campaign processes: Being able to change products offered as inventory levels change, change the incentives to purchase other products or change the targeted customers on the fly.

Obviously, the information needed for these activities must be current and as accurate as possible. The operational data store is a key CIF component for these activities. It supplies the integrated, current, quality, enterprise- focused data to provide the entire picture of the customers, inventory, order statuses and campaign results. In addition, it may be necessary to make the operational systems accessible to all personnel involved in this activity for the campaign as well. A tightly integrated set of tactical CIF components is the hallmark of a well-conceived architecture supporting this activity.

Monitoring the Campaign

Information for the campaign monitoring activity includes the following types of measurement information:

Predicted outcomes from campaign planning: Expectations are set in terms of what the campaign should accomplish.

Budget and actual costs: Tracking the actual costs against the budgeted ones to determine if the campaign is meeting expectations.

"Outside promotional" customer activity: Are there other activities that may be affecting your campaign ­ positively or negatively?

Customer interaction information: It is important to capture how customers react to various aspects of the campaign. This information becomes important in planning and executing future campaigns.

Market-basket analysis or other data mining analyses: The ability to determine what products are selling together, what patterns of product sales are occurring and when to offer an up-sell or cross-sell are all useful analyses to the campaign manager, analysts and sales representatives.

These measures are used to optimize the plan and perform correctional steps during the campaign. Consider the sources of the information necessary to monitor the campaign. Budget information from either operational systems or the operational data store is joined with planning information derived in the data marts. Profitability analysis is performed in the data marts based on point-of- sale revenues and the actual costs of implementing the campaign captured in accounts payable and activity-based accounting systems. Customer responses are captured in operational systems or the ODS. Market-basket analysis is performed on transaction-level detail captured in the operational data store, integrated into the data warehouse and analyzed in the data mart. For this monitoring activity, both tactical and analytical components of the CIF must come together in a cohesive fashion to generate proper information on campaign performance.

By pulling all these diverse tactical and analytical components into a single environment (e.g., a campaign management portal or workshop), the marketing analyst and campaign manager now have all the tools and resources necessary to manage the process. They can monitor the ongoing activities of the campaign and make necessary adjustments to optimize the return on investment. Further, the front-line personnel have access to invaluable information about the customer – real-time information – permitting them to take actions immediately to correct or alter the outcomes of the campaign, thus ensuring maximal success.

The key to such a successful environment lies in the ability to create the right tools at the right time for the right people. Without the CIF architecture, it is doubtful this integration will happen.

References

1. The following articles provide additional information on CRM and the CIF: "Building the Customer-Centric Enterprise, Parts 1-3" by Claudia Imhoff, Lisa Loftis and Jonathan Geiger, DM Review, Nov, Dec. 2000 and Jan. 2001.

The following books provide comprehensive information on these topics: Building the Customer-Centric Enterprise by Claudia Imhoff, Lisa Loftis and Jonathan Geiger, John Wiley & Sons, 2001. Corporate Information Factory ­ Second Edition by W.H. Inmon, Claudia Imhoff and Ryan Sousa, John Wiley & Sons, 2001.

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