Are Your Customers Visible or are they Data-points?

[date-stamp]Are your customers visible to you or are they merely data-points? One of the most challenging realities of the digital age and eCommerce is that customers are no longer visible to our eyes and neither are merchants to them.  However, the expectation of every customer is that the merchant does know them as if they were visible.

The greatest challenge every business has is to make the customer visible again, just like the transporter room on the Enterprise in the 1960s StarTrek TV series.  "Beam me up, Scotty" implies confidence that one will become visible to the aforementioned Cmdr Scott.  So too, customers long to be visible and appreciated by your business.  In our opinion this is a primary purpose of business intelligence and customer insights.  The digital customer must be decoded and must become visible to everyone in your business.  This means that every point of contact, structured or unstructured should be captured and cataloged in a database and it is if you use financial software, e-mail, customer service software, file storage, etc.

Data collected by many small and medium market businesses is stored in various applications, increasingly cloud-based, by name, content, subject, date, product classifications, bug issue, sales or budget amounts, etc.  which can be a challenge for the IT department when they receive a request to produce a profile or market segment of "our best customers in 2012 and what they bought, when and how."   Google Analytics is working very hard to provide this profile image for those customers who search and purchase online.  If you are a business with multiple distribution channels beyond the internet, you need to be able to search all your data easily, across applications and do it efficiently and timely without making an IT project out of it.

When planning your cloud strategy do not forget to that you will need a simple way to set up and manage your search domains and it will help to have analytics that can be applied cross-applications, as well.