MIR: Yasmeen, you work for Teradata, which is one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world, and you support some of the largest companies in Europe and around the world. Based on what you’re seeing, what are the biggest challenges that marketers are facing right now?
Yasmeen Ahmad: Marketers today are being challenged by the quickly evolving changes driven by digitalization. Today, digitalization has created more channels, providing additional opportunities for customers and businesses to interact. It has also increased the availability of existing and new data-driven products and services. Digitalization has placed power into the hands of the customer. Traditional businesses are faced with customer relationships breaking down as expectations change.
MIR: You mention shifting expectations on the customer side. What impact do they have on companies and their ways of doing business?
Yasmeen Ahmad: Products and services are now a commodity: Any competitor business in an industry can replicate a product or service within six months of launch. This makes the customer experience even more crucial, as it drives loyalty. As marketers try to keep up with the pace of change, they are moving away from pushing the product to creating meaningful moments. In local economies, this was previously simple to do, as the branch manager or store assistant had in-depth knowledge of their customers and communities. However, as we have moved into global data economies, marketers must use data to try to recreate customer intimacy.
MIR: This notion of using global data to recreate a sense of customer intimacy is an interesting idea. To get to know their customers, marketers need to become more aware of the data generated by being “always on.” What are some of the key challenges in creating an intimate customer relationship with digital customers?
Yasmeen Ahmad: Broad segment-based targeting is recognized today as a crude approach to pushing possibly relevant product- and service-related messaging. People are inundated with irrelevant offers to the point that marketing has little to no value. Increasing the relevancy and potential success of marketing touchpoints requires marketers to anticipate and respond to customer needs. To do this, marketers are increasingly relying on analytical models that can predict customer behaviors through intentions captured in their interactions. Capitalizing on granular datasets, such as clickstream and social media, requires access to advanced analytical techniques and tools. Collecting interactions from page visits, clicks, hovers and form entries on a website and translating this into actionable customer insight is a major hurdle to overcome.
MIR: How can companies get actionable insights from so many different datasets?
Yasmeen Ahmad: Having a holistic view of the customer is essential to being able to monitor, manage and optimize the customer experience. To enable a seamless, joined-up experience across channels, marketers are required to map customer journeys by integrating data. The ability to bring this data together and link a customer’s transactions and interactions is key to decoding a customer’s journey and experience. Many businesses are still struggling with being truly customer centric because they have data spread across silos, both internal and external to the organization. Business silos working in isolation are only able to solve narrow business questions. For a wider impact, marketing teams must work collaboratively across the enterprise to integrate channel, product, customer and marketing data. This is not a trivial task as the customer’s data ecosystems become more complex with various technologies both on premise and in the cloud.