Application integration is becoming a high priority in the customer management arena as companies try to integrate their isolated point products. The Big Four CRM application vendors have introduced integration products while other CRM vendors have developed open architectures for easier integration. Enterprise-wide integration strategies are under consideration by many companies, but the funding for this class of initiatives has slowed to a trickle. So what to do?
The Bottom Line: Integration is not the only answer--benefits can be achieved by using integrated customer data in an enterprise-wide data warehouse for customer interactions.
What It Means: It is possible to get around the integration miasma. Companies that have invested in comprehensive data warehouses have an advantage in the integration space.
While this approach does not replace process and application integration, it can be a faster and cheaper way to get at the complete view of the customer. Critics point to the lack of real-time data and claim that the size of many data warehouses precludes fast and useful queries. The fact is that relationship optimization, trending, and customer analysis indeed can be executed with the enterprise data warehouse while IT dukes it out over which application will be the customer system of record and how different applications will be integrated.
Teradata stands out in the customer management space as a vendor that provides the sophisticated trending, analytics, and optimization tools required to take customer data from the data warehouse and use it to make better corporate decisions, drive revenue, and reduce costs. It is a particular leader in the Retail space, with clients including Hallmark, Office Depot, and JC Penney. SAS has a slightly different perspective by providing analytics that also drive customer-related business processes.
Conclusion: While the enterprise data warehouse does not replace an integration strategy, integrated customer data from the warehouse can be used for real customer analysis and relationship optimization. If the choice is between a lengthy integration strategy/implementation and hooking customer analytics onto an existing data warehouse, the data warehouse is clearly the better option.
AMR Research originally published this article on 21 August 2003.