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Look before you leap into Big Data projects!

A strategy-first approach can accelerate success and ensure that you are making the right investments.

It seems that every day, a client will excitedly discuss launching a big data project.  And why not? Companies today have an abundance of structured and unstructured data, and the 360-degree view of their customers seems within reach.  They see the potential for new customer treatments and operational insights that will help achieve new heights in profitability.  It all sounds good, but companies that leap too fast without thinking through the journey can turn a solid concept into a poor business investment.

Start with a vision:  This seems simple; however most companies want to start with a solution and later realize that they are not sure what the outcomes should be.  Think about the various technology implementations in your own industry that have not panned out because the business value was not thought through; or the functionality did not enable the correct customer experiences.  Recently, a B2B client who had asked for a "technology roadmap" decided to refocus on vision when these misalignments were discovered during the process.

Think outside your silo:  All organizations have silos and it is natural for a client to be excited about their individual CRM or Big Data application while not seeing the bigger “enterprise” picture.  For example, marketers, immediately think about how they can make campaigns more effective, but may not realize how investments in analytics and personalization can impact metrics in the contact center, retail locations and other customer touch points.

Have a roadmap:  How will we move from proof-of-concept to enterprise rollout? How can we migrate to other touch points, geographies and brands? In what priority order do we initiate projects? Which investments must we make and in what order? What is the full potential return in terms of cost savings, sales, retention, profitability, and customer satisfaction? The roadmap answers all of these questions in a way that is tied to your overall vision and objectives.

Most importantly, a roadmap can help you make smarter investments, rather than leap to a technology purchase that may not align to your overall objectives.

Set yourself up for success:  Have you ever been part of a stalled customer-centric initiative? Merkle recently completed a study to see what separated the CRM approaches of high growth vs. low growth enterprises.  It reveals that the most successful companies take the effort very seriously, with commitment and true sponsorship from the top; a focus on people and change management; a target operating approach that brings clarity to decision making; and a solid financial plan that everyone can get behind.

While it can be tempting to do a one-off, under the radar screen project; or simply go "buy" a big data solution (shades of CRM in the 2000's), a strategic approach has the best chance for long term, transformative CRM success.

To learn more about cCRM transformation click here.

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