Here we go again. The same old question: “What is the definition of customer?” Latest Informatica (a data quality, master data management and data integration firm) has hired David Loshin to find out – started in the blog post The Most Dangerous Question to Ask Data Professionals.
Shortly, my take is that this question in practice has two major implications for data quality and master data management but in theory, it should only have one:
- The first one is real world alignment. In theory real world alignment is independent of the definition of a customer as it is about the party behind the customer.
- The second is party roles. It’s actually here we can have an endless discussion.
In practice we of course mix things up as discussed in the post Entity Revolution vs Entity Evolution.
And Now for Something Completely Different
Instead of saying that “What is the definition of customer?” is the million dollar question it’s probably more like the 20 million rupees question as most data management these days are taking place in India.
The amount of money involved is taken from the film Slumdog Millionaire where 20 million rupees is the top prize in the local “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Kaun Banega Crorepati), which by the way has the same jingle and graphics as all over the world.
And oh, how much is 20 million rupees? It’s near ½ million US dollars or 300.000 euro (with a dot as thousand separator). But a lot in buying power for a local customer. Exactly 2 crores (2,00,00,000 rupees).
I have a different take on the question. Firstly I think that it is important, but that there is no single definition of “customer” – the definition must necessarily be bound to the context of a specific organisation. To give a trivial example, in some organisations customer includes people who enter your premises and consider buying things, but in other organisations those people are not considered customers, instead they are called “prospects” and the only people who are called “customers” are those who have actually made purchases. Secondly I think that there are two real world issues here for information management: “what information do we have about the person (or organisation)?”, versus “what information do we have about the role they play with respect to our organisation in this context?”
Thanks a lot for commenting Doug. I agree that the data we like to collect from the real world will differ depending on the role of the party. For example we usually will collect credit risk data for a none cash paying customer while we won’t bother as long as the party is considered being a prospect like discussed in the post Five Moments of Truth.
My immediate reply at http://dataqualitybook.com/?p=311 – stay tuned at http://blogs.informatica.com/perspectives/index.php/author/david-loshin/ for upcoming follow-on posts…
Thanks David for reacting on the banter. I’ll stay tuned.