Over the last decade, digital transformation necessitated a large scale move to the cloud. Virtually everyone consolidated data within a closed environment, often labeled a marketing cloud.
Now, the customer journey is increasingly fragmented, and companies face tighter operating margins amid an economic recession, making the ability to connect, access and map data to combine insights more important than ever.
As an enterprise’s data toolset becomes dispersed across all aspects of the business, including customer experience, companies who can connect fragments of siloed data will have a leg up on the competition.
Already, we’re seeing the rise of tech solutions to solve for this. Snowflake is one example of a company seeking to manage and analyze large quantities and diverse types of data across dissimilar clouds in a single, user-friendly platform.
The hype around this platform signals a growing demand in all industries for data connectivity. It points to a larger trend in which companies are looking beyond a single monolithic stack to the next phase of cloud in which disparate data sets can be combined in a secure environment allowing for easy and efficient data access and collaboration without ceding control or security.
The goal is for organizations to connect data within, and beyond, its four walls to develop a better, more holistic view of the customer, problems and potential areas of growth.
Whether working with a marketing cloud partner or building a stack from the bottom up, new tools are emerging to deliver on this promise of a future where data is more readily applied to better understand the customer, enable better analytics, and use across various applications.
The average customer spends less than 5% of their time with any particular brand. The rest of the time, they are out in the world, sometimes interacting with brands in many unseen ways. In seeking to create a complete 360-degree vision of the customer in the post-COVID world, data is increasingly important.
Companies looking to bring together disparate data sets across the enterprise and consolidate the information into actionable insight from an analytics standpoint must be able to dictate what data they use and where, rather than the other way around.
A decentralized, secure data environment allows for ownership, choice and control. It allows brands to connect data across different channels within the organization to form a single view of the customer and connect this information to various applications used within the enterprise, streamlining customer touchpoints.
For example, data connectivity within the organization results in a single customer view through dynamic multi-cloud processing, thus allowing businesses to understand how one customer interacts across various aspects of the brand, such as ad viewing, visiting the website, calling in to the customer service center, visiting an actual store location and more.
Taking this a step further, the next generation of cloud operations will allow brands to connect not just within their organization but with their partners. Sharing first-party data in a privacy-first way is mutually beneficial and opens a new door into insights.
For example, if you’re a video game developer, you know a great deal of sales occur outside of the video game’s properties. Given this, you will want to gather customer intelligence from outside sources like Twitch, Steam, Walmart, etc., to better reach the right consumer with tailored content.
Data silos have been tackled through the wide embrace of cloud data solutions, but this still leaves many gaps. Increasingly, partnerships are needed to develop accurate intelligence.
However, open partnership data collaboration is not as easy as closed cloud because it must account for data privacy, consumer rights, and regulatory compliance, not to mention data format and schema compatibility.
A better approach, and one that is gaining recognition, is to break down these cloud silos with a data connectivity platform that is focused on permissions, security, resolution, collaboration, and partnership insights. Data connectivity is crucial to the next phase of cloud development and usage.
Rather than tightly bundled applications with closed data environments, the next generation of cloud will use data connectivity to solve for structural barriers in moving and consolidating data.
Neutral data connectivity platforms are necessary to fuse brands’ application stacks with differing data infrastructure to deliver on the promise of an open, flexible and decentralized data environment to facilitate integration.
The benefit of data connectivity platforms is that they work with existing cloud infrastructure, negating the need to build a new system from the ground up.
Securely connecting data inside and outside the company allows businesses of all sizes to emulate tech giants, extending their reach and access to customer analytics. If you look at a leading company like Amazon, it’s approach to data and cloud gives it a significant advantage.
Brands with next gen cloud capabilities can collaborate with each other to achieve this level of customer knowledge, generating accurate insights and agility from a consistent source of intelligence.
The fact that this can be done without upending existing cloud infrastructure, rather than re-engineering marketing cloud offerings, saves significant time and money. It’s imperative this be done with modern consumer expectations and today’s regulatory environment in mind, to ensure safe, privacy-centric data usage.
Data connectivity allows for one seamless stack to deliver better customer experiences and a competitive edge in customer personalization.
While tech companies have long discussed the benefits of a single view of a customer, now it’s becoming a reality. Early adopters currently focusing on consolidating data within their organization and forming meaningful data collaborations will be well positioned in the new decade.
With data connectivity, clouds become better at what they’re designed to do and meet the promise of enhancing the customer experience by breaking down silos and accessing data outside of their four walls. It is the pipes through which first-party data can be safely moved.
Data connectivity makes it simple to access permissioned, privacy-safe data from a variety of sources and consolidate that into the richest view of the customer across every interaction, allowing companies to prioritize the customer experience from start to finish and offer more personalized interactions.
The next phase of digital transformation goes beyond access to data – it’s about using data to improve the entire customer journey. The promise of a single view of the customer is finally tangible.
David Eisenberg is Chief Strategy Officer at LiveRamp (NYSE: RAMP), a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that provides the identity platform for powering exceptional experiences. David is responsible for strategic planning, M&A, partnerships and investments. Prior to LiveRamp, David led Strategy and Corporate Development at Acxiom and before that at BzzAgent, prior to its $60M acquisition by Dunnhumby.
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