In a recent survey of nearly 500 professionals, 63% said their company plans to expand the use of customer data in the next 12 months. More than half (51%) will create an in-house team dedicated to customer data strategy or customer data management, and 57% said they plan to implement a tool to centralize data, like a customer data platform (CDP).
These are just a few insights from a new Customer Data Maturity Study published by Treasure Data. The report confirms that companies are dedicated to leveraging customer data and the benefits to using customer data are clear, but the process can still be a challenge.
The survey asked 491 professionals knowledgeable about their companies’ customer data management strategies in the United States, UK, France, and Germany where they fall along the customer data maturity curve. Are businesses implementing a true customer data strategy? How is that strategy used across the organization—beyond marketing—with sales, customer support, and supply chain management?
Benefits of Centralized Customer Data Management
Centralized customer data management is table stakes. Over three quarters of companies (78%) use centralized data as part of their customer data strategy. The benefits, among others, include greater efficiencies (64%) and business growth (57%). Additionally, large enterprises (60%) are more likely to have a clearly defined strategy that is strictly followed versus their smaller counterparts (37%).
AI/ML and the Use of Predictive Capabilities
Even among those who feel they’ve got a handle on their strategy, there’s potentially more to be gained by expanding customer data use. Only 41% of those surveyed say they are “performing customer analytics, using AI/ML and predictive capabilities” versus 53% that say they use customer data for “activation, campaign management, and customer journey optimization.”
Only 37% of respondents said they were completely satisfied with their ability to execute predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities compared to 51% happy with their activation, campaign management, and journey optimization abilities.
Despite all this, 85% of respondents are somewhat or extremely likely to add customer analytics using AI/ML and predictive capabilities to their data strategies in the next 12 months.
Customer Data Silos Are Still a Struggle
In response to a question about how companies manage customer data, one-third of companies pull most of their customer data into a unified database (36%), while more than one-quarter have siloed customer data in multiple systems and organizations (28%).
Siloed customer data is correlated to company size. Smaller companies are significantly more likely to have siloed customer data (44%). Larger companies, on the other hand, are more likely to unify their customer data (40%). Not surprisingly, siloed data is the top challenge professionals face with their current customer data strategy (34%). Along the same lines, 22% said their biggest challenge is not having one cohesive source of customer data across the organization.
When teams are developing a customer data strategy, the challenge they most often face is an overwhelming amount of data in too many different formats (45%).
The Rise of the Data Management Team
When asked who is responsible for overseeing the customer data strategy, the data management team was the clear winner. It came in at 33%, more than double the next highest department, information technology at 16%. In contrast, only 11% of marketing teams are responsible for overseeing their company’s data strategy. This makes sense considering the number of departments that use customer data, including marketing, sales, customer success, contact center, supply chain, and product.
What’s Next for Data-Driven Businesses?
As companies dedicate themselves to fully leveraging customer data, more will move toward a “visionary” approach to customer data. This is defined as “we have a strong customer data strategy; all of our customer data is centralized, unified, and used by relevant groups. We lead our industry with data-driven customer experiences.” Only 21% of those surveyed described their company’s current approach as visionary—leaving lots of room for others to join them.
For more information, download the Customer Data Maturity Study.