Single Customer Hierarchy View

One of the things I do over and over again as part of my work is data matching.

There is a clear tendency that the goal of the data matching efforts increasingly is a master data consolidation taking place before the launch of a master data management (MDM) solution. Such a goal makes the data matching requirements considerably more complex than if the goal is a one-shot deduplication before a direct marketing campaign.

Hierarchy Management

In the post Fuzzy Hierarchy Management I described how requirements for multiple purposes of use of customer master data makes the terms false positive and false negative fuzzy.

As I like to think of a customer as a party role there are essentially two kinds of hierarchies to be aware of:

  • The hierarchies the involved party is belonging to in the real world. This is for example an individual person seen as belonging to a household or a company belonging at a place in a company family tree.
  • The hierarchies of customer roles as seen in different business functions and by different departments. For example two billing entities may belong to the same account in a CRM system in one example, but in another example two CRM accounts have the same billing entity. 

The first type of hierarchy shouldn’t be seen differently between enterprises. You should reach the very same result in data matching regardless of what your organization is doing. It may however be true that your business rules and the regularity requirements applying to your industry and geography may narrow down the need for exploration.

In the latter case we must of course examine the purpose of use for the customer master data within the organization.

Single Customer View

It is in my experience much easier to solve the second case when the first case is solved. This approach was evaluated in the post Lean MDM.

The same approach also applies to continuous data quality prevention as part of a MDM solution. Aligning with the real world and it’s hierarchies as part of the data capture makes solving the customer roles as seen in different business functions and by different departments much easier.  The benefits of doing this is explained in the post instant Data Quality.

It is often said that a “single customer view” is an illusion. I guess it is. First of all the term “single customer view” is a vision, but a vision worth striving at. Secondly customers come in hierarchies. Managing and reflecting these hierarchies is a very important aspect of master data management. Therefore a “single customer view” often ends up as having a “single customer hierarchy view”.    

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