Q: I am working with a retailer that wants to determine the optimal criteria to use to query a master customer repository from different customer touchpoints. Currently, they are using phone number, which is increasingly resulting in zero-match results (because of cell phone growth, privacy concerns) and forces associates to key in data (perpetuating data quality issues). In the absence of a hard identifier (loyalty number, SSN, etc.), what criteria have you found to be most successful at retrieving customer identifiers? Are there tools today (either DQ or CDI) that help optimize queries (pare down potential result sets) that would use something like zip code and street number or last name while meeting low latency requirements?

Evan Levy's Answer:

This is a question that I see quite frequently  - and a common challenge to many operational environments. The good news is the pervasiveness of this business need has caused significant demand customer data integration functionality. CDI has emerged as a highly important field in the last 18 to 24 months.

I find that identifying customers in a unique fashion is a strong suit of the CDI product world - and one whose trademark is low-latency and highly-operational data identification. Most of the technologies available often utilize five to eight data elements that enable unique customer identification. The qualifying elements vary based upon the detailed attributes available about the customer and the content contained across the different IT application systems.

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