Chapter 8 Infrastructure and Process

Dismantling the Silos That Hinder

We've built databases for more than 20 years, and we've gotten pretty good at it from a technical perspective. They function just as promised. They collect, format, standardize, comingle, and store the data from multiple customer interactions. And yet, for all they are capable of doing, why are so many databases underused? Why do they fail to yield their full potential value? My belief is that the people in the organization who own the database function often don't have the right support or even a total vision of the enormity of the power that it wields.

When a $5 billion company sets out to build a $2 million database, often it can be a relatively junior-level decision. I believe that is at the heart of the problem. If the database isn't built with executive-level buy-in—or even a mandate—it will be underused across the enterprise. These days, everyone knows they must have a customer database to do business, so they often develop one simply because it's the thing to do. “Build it, and they will come,” with no forward-looking plan for the kind of results the database can create and how they can integrate it into the business. They are so focused on the bells and whistles that they don't consider what those features can mean to the overall business strategy.

The bottom line is that before the database is commissioned, you must outline the expected customer experience at all touchpoints and the required functionality ...

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