360° Business Partner View

Having a 360° customer view is a well established term in CRM and Master Data Management. It is typically defined as “providing everyone in the organization with a consistent view of the customer.”

Then some organizations don’t use the term customer but other words like:

  • Citizen is the common term in public sector organizations when dealing with private persons
  • Patient is used in healthcare and the customer/citizen balance is different between countries around the world
  • Member is used in membership organizations like fundraising and those organizing employers and employees

The concept of a 360° customer view is in my eyes easily swapped with 360° citizen / patient/ member view.

Also related to the position in the pipeline we have words as:

  • Prospect being an entity with whom we have a 1-1 dialogue about becoming a customer
  • Lead being an entity we want to engage in such a dialogue

I think embracing prospects and leads is a must for a 360° customer view. Having the same real world object acting as a customer and a prospect/lead at the same time doesn’t make sense.

Hierarchy is of course important here, as the customer and the prospect or lead may belong to the same hierarchy but at a different level or only seen at a higher level. This is true for:

Organizations also have suppliers. In a B2B organization the intersection of business partners being customers / prospects / leads and also suppliers may be surprisingly large. Typically the intersection is not that large seen at branch level but higher if we take a look at the ultimate global mother level.

From my point of view a 360° customer view should be made on consolidated customer and supplier hierarchies in B2B. Even in B2C a private customer may be a business owner or key employee at a supplier.

Employees are another master data entity that may have an intersection with customers and suppliers. Having an employee being a (or spouse of a) business owner at a small business supplier is a classic cause of trouble. I have seen situations where a 360° customer view could include employee entities.

bpOther Business Partner entities exists depending on industry and specific business operations where a 360° customer view would benefit from catching up on other real world party entities.

I think Data Matching and/or upstream prevention by error tolerant search has a busy near future.

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2 thoughts on “360° Business Partner View

  1. Jim Harris 1st November 2009 / 16:15

    Excellent post Henrik,

    This is one of the most comprehensive explanations I have read for what a 360° view should contain.

    Too many definitions and attempted implementations fall short (i.e. 270° or less) because they don’t look at (as you described very well) all of the different ways that the same real-world entity can be represented.

    Best Regards…


  2. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 7th November 2009 / 09:06

    Thanks Jim.

    The circle is surely good stuff for analogies like the 270° view.

    Sometimes I also use the analogy about squaring the circle as 360° actually is too finite. In real life we have to make an approximative construction similar to when we square the circle – sometimes 22/7 instead of Pi with 50 decimals is OK and anyway the real fix is proved impossible.

    I guess we will come across the subject of a single indisputable version of the truth during next week.

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