Modern Master Data Management for a True Customer 360

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To establish what modern data management is, in the context of a “true” customer 360, first you need to define what a “true” customer 360 is and is not. That’s more difficult than you might think because the definition of “Customer 360” is like master data itself – this means it is not static, it’s dynamic – always changing.

Kate Tickner, Director Alliances, Reltio
Kate spoke at the IRM UK Master Data Management Summit & Data Governance Conference Europe 13-16 May 2019, London on the subject, ‘
Modern Data Management for True and Trusted Customer 360: Benefits Leveraged by the World’s Largest B2C and B2B Organizations
The next IRM UK Master Data Management Summit & Data Governance Conference Europe will be held 11-14 May 2020, London

If you look back about 4 years ago to 2015 then had an article defining Customer 360 and suggests it is impossible to obtain. It also talks about the need to combine structured and unstructured data becoming important and how the end-goal is a complete view, in one location that can be used for analysis.

The important thing to remember is that this view on Customer 360 has been defined with the idea of and restrictions of traditional master data management in mind. That is, relational databases taking the minimum amount of structured data required to do match and merge to deliver the “golden record”. That’s probably why this article assumed companies would also need a separate “big data analytics strategy” to combine the MDM-generated golden record with unstructured data and analyse them together.

This is where modern data management comes in but first, a look at what was happening in the background. While companies implemented these traditional or first/second generation MDM tools. applications vendors were putting together department-specific versions of Customer 360 as well. These very often came directly from the CRM or ERP world and were very helpful if you happened to work in Sales/Marketing or Order/Cash Management. However, despite the noise about them offering the Customer 360 nirvana, they still did not provide what that 2015 article suggested was needed. That is, to bring all customer data, of all types, together for analysis. They certainly did not do it in a big data architecture.

What we saw at the end of last year – September to be precise – was that the big players in the applications spaces finally admitted that they had never had a Customer 360. Or to be precise, they admitted nothing, they just announced that they were now going to provide one. As ever, the trick is to read the small print:

Salesforce is going to create its own Customer 360 to “manage customer data across Salesforce apps.”

SAP, Adobe and Microsoft under the ODI initiative will “enhance operability between the applications and platforms of the three partners.”

What this will create, is not a true Customer 360, but instead more functional silos.

They can be forgiven for hijacking the Customer 360 vision for their own data view of the world – after all, like Reltio, they sell software. However, what they are leaving out is much more important and it’s something that the market-place – analysts, master data professionals and we here at Reltio included – believes which is this:

The single most important thing you need with a true Customer 360 is context.

What we mean by this is that it should include:

  • The relationships between a customer and other entities like product, location, supplier, object etc.

Information about what they are doing on social media; in their transactions and other unstructured data types.

Also, relating to the earlier point abut dynamic versus static master data, customers are also dynamic. If you cannot create that view fast, change it fast and message to them in a dynamic way, you might as well not bother at all. So you’ve got to deliver the data throughout your enterprise in time for it to be used and in a quality and format ready for analysis. It’s a lot to ask but these are real requirements and they are what companies today need and are starting to ask for. This is not something that first and second-generation MDM solutions, built on traditional relational technology can provide.

The analysts have already defined the ability to deliver this “true Customer 360” as the baseline requirement for what they call “third-generation” master data management. At Reltio we call it Modern Data Management and it is at the heart of what we do. A modern data management platform includes the following 6 main features and advantages:

This is not an exhaustive list of advantages but it covers off many of the things that we talk about when we chat to technical users. However, a true Customer 360 is set in a world of digital transformation and therefore technical users of Master Data solutions are only a small fraction of any enterprise. The real purpose of a true Customer 360 view is to satisfy the needs of the information consumers of modern master data and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of those in large enterprises.

In terms of benefits of modern data management let’s backtrack slightly and look at what Forrester Research has said. We can see from this that agility is important; the balance of privacy with personalisation for customer data; the ability to move at speed and support the digitisation of business models. What this means to our customers is that they can achieve the benefits they need for their business which can include:

  • Get to market faster
  • Identify cross and up-sell opportunities at the right time
  • Increase compliance capabilities
  • Reduce IT costs
  • Improve salesforce effectiveness

For real-world examples of this see these success stories

In conclusion we can see that Customer 360 definitions and needs have evolved and are now at the heart of digital transformation. However the challenge that organisations are facing when digitising their business strategy is that it is not possible with traditional data management capabilities. On top of this, good quality master data is even more important today than it has ever been. The way forward has got to be modern master data management tools that take the best of traditional MDM platforms and combine it with a big data architecture and other more modern capabilities to deliver:

  • A single view of customer AND relationships
  • With context
  • In a business-needs time-frame

Now that’s a true Customer 360 – delivered by Modern Data Management. For more information please contact Reltio at

Kate Tickner is EMEA Alliances Director at Reltio and has 20 years experience in Enterprise Data Management. Kate works with internal and external customers, partners and colleagues to develop business; go-to-market propositions and supporting content. She enjoys bringing teams together to focus on agreed strategies and execute the actions needed to achieve relevant business outcomes.

Copyright Kate Tickner, Director Alliances, Reltio

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