The current data-volume explosion can be traced back to a time when our society began to focus more on customers as individuals. We see ourselves as independent, unique people with free will, not bound by social conformity. Catering to that trend, the market has reacted in a myriad of ways.
Take Starbucks, for example, where there are now 87,000 ways to order a drink; Nike, which offers bespoke services that enable customers to customize their own shoes; or Build a Bear, which lets children build exactly the type of bear they want, along with clothes options that could rival those of your own wardrobe. It seems the more customized the product, the happier customers are to share personal information with the company, and this in turn leads customers to expect higher levels of treatment. We don’t want to be treated just like every other customer; we want to be treated as individuals who deserve the very best treatment.
The Evolution of Customer Interactions
Customers have been interacting with businesses in different ways. In recent years, customers expressed discontent via phone calls or letters; today, customers express both negative and positive feedback through social platforms like Facebook or Twitter. This has caused an explosion of unstructured data, which is one of the main contributing factors to the growth of big data, and it is growing 10x faster than traditional business data.
Staying in the Customer’s Good Books
Every organization wants to keep receiving mostly positive feedback from customers, while keeping them loyal over the long term. But to do so, organizations need to be able to navigate this avalanche of unstructured data and use it to build a 360-degree view of each customer.
Organizations that lack this ability will not be able to take advantage of this treasure trove of data. Traditional approaches to data integration are no longer sufficient to keep up with customers:
- The time it takes to copy the data is impacting the agility of the company.
- Adding new data sources is resource intensive, and also takes time.
- It is difficult to analyze different types of data, i.e. structured, unstructured, static, transitional, or on- or off-premises.
Treat your Customers to Data Virtualization
Data virtualization enables organizations to address the above challenges, so they can join the ranks of organizations that provide individualized service. Let me explain:
- Data virtualization simplifies data access by creating an abstract data layer that enables consumers to access all their data from one centralized location, hiding the complexity of all the data sources below.
- Data virtualization provides real-time access to views of the data, without physically copying the data to a new location, enabling real-time analysis, for greater agility across the company.
- The central semantic layer created by data virtualization ensures that any new data sources incorporated into the data architecture will automatically comply with each organization’s set rules. This makes it easier to comply with data protection laws like the GDPR.
- With its Google-like searching capability, data virtualization lets business users access the intelligence they need to make sound decisions.
- Data virtualization connects to all different types of data sources (including unstructured data) so organizations have access to all the information necessary to create an accurate view of each customer.
Data virtualization makes it possible for companies to utilize all their customer data in a more meaningful way. It allows for intuitive, responsive, and personal interactions with each customer. Before long, customers will expect nothing less!