Addressing Digital Identity

A physical address has traditionally been a core element of doing identity resolution. Stating a name and an address is the most widespread way of telling with which person or which company we are (aiming at) having a business and other form of relationship.

However, during the last 25 years a lot of things have moved from the physical world to the online world. Not at least a lot of things start in the online world while in many cases ends up in the physical world. Today selling, the smart way, starts in social media. Final delivery may be digital or may be sending a package or a consultant to a physical address. A thing like dating most often starts in the online world today but surely the aim is a physical encounter.

This new way of life has a tremendous affect on data quality and master data management. Within quality of contact data, the most frequent domain for data quality issues, we have traditionally dealt with verifying names and addresses and deduplicating names and addresses.

As the best way of preventing data quality issues is looking at the root we must address that onboarding of contact data often starts with a digital identity where a physical address isn’t present in the first place but often will be updated at a later stage.

As described in the post Social MDM and Systems of Engagement a new trend in master data management is to establish a link between the new systems of engagement and the old systems of record.

In the same way data quality prevention and improvement will have to cover establishing a link between a new discipline being digital identity resolution and the good old address verification stuff.

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Multi-Commerce Data Quality

A month ago I wrote about Multi-Channel Data Quality. Multi-Commerce and the related data quality is pretty much another term covering the same challenges which is that despite we today talk a lot about eCommerce, being doing business online, we still have a lot of business going on offline. So we have challenges with online data quality, offline data quality and not at least a single view of online/offline data quality.

According to the Gartner Hype Cycle there is such a thing as Multicommerce Master Data Management. This discipline has just passed the expectation peak but will, according to Gartner, be absorbed by Multidomain Master Data Management on the descent before climbing up again towards enlightenment and productivity.

As data quality and master data management are best friends I find it very likely that Multi-Commerce Data Quality will be all about Multi-Domain Master Data Management, including:

  • Having a single business partner view (that includes single customer view) encompassing all online and offline activities
  • Having a unified way of maintaining and exposing product data online and offline
  • Having the means for doing content management (that includes unstructured data) embracing online presentation as well as offline distribution.    

I also see Multi-Domain Master Data Management as not only doing master data management for several data domains at the same time (with the same software brand), but also exploring the intersections between the different domains.

If you for example look at a customer/product matrix you may add a third dimension being a channel where we examine the relations between a customer type, a product type/attribute and a given channel, thus having a 3D picture of doing business in a multi-commerce environment.

If you are interested in Multi-Domain Master Data Management including how Multi-Commerce Master Data Management and related data quality are developing right now, then please join the LinkedIn group for Multi-Domain MDM by clicking on the puzzle.

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Multi-Channel Data Quality

When I hear terms as multi-channel marketing, multi-channel retailing, multi-channel publishing and other multi-channel things I can’t resist thinking that there also must be a term called multi-channel data quality.

Indeed we are getting more and more channels where we do business. It stretches from the good old brick and mortar offline shop over eCommerce and the latest online touch points as mobile devices and social media.

Our data quality is challenged by how the way of the world changes. Customer master data is coming from these disparate channels with various purposes and in divergent formats. Product master data is exposed through these channels in different ways.     

We have to balance our business processes between having a unique single customer view and a unified product information basis and the diverse business needs within each channel.  

Some customer data may be complete and timely in one channel but deficient and out of date in another channel. Some product data may be useful here but inaccurate there.

I think the multi-channel things makes yet a business case for multi-domain (or multi-entity) master data management. Even if it is hard to predict the return on investment for the related data quality and master data management initiatives I think it is easy to foresee the consequences of doing nothing.

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What a Lovely Day

As promised earlier today, here is the first post in an endless row of positive posts about success in data quality improvement.

This beautiful morning I finished yet another of these nice recurring jobs I do from time to time: Deduplicating bunches of files ready for direct marketing making sure that only one, the whole one and nothing but one unique message reaches a given individual decision maker, be that in the online or offline mailbox.

Most jobs are pretty similar and I have a fantastic tool that automates most of the work. I only have the pleasure to learn about the nature of the data and configure the standardisation and matching process accordingly in a user friendly interface. After the automated process I’m enjoying looking for any false positives and checking for false negatives. Sometimes I’m so lucky that I have the chance to repeat the process with a slightly different configuration so we reach the best result possible.

It’s a great feeling that this work reduces the costs of mailings at my clients, makes them look more smart and professional and facilitates that correct measure of response rates that is so essential in planning future even better direct marketing activities.

But that’s not all. I’m also delighted to be able to have a continuing chat about how we over time may introduce data quality prevention upstream at the point of data entry so we don’t have to do these recurring downstream cleansing activities any more. It’s always fascinating going through all the different applications that many organisations are running, some of them so old that I didn’t dream about they existed anymore. Most times we are able to build a solution that will work in the given landscape and anyway soon the credit crunch is totally gone and here we go.

I’ll be back again with more success from the data quality improvement frontier very soon.

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Matchback and Master Data Management

The term matchback is used by marketers for the process of determining which marketing activity that triggered a given purchase. In these times where multichannel marketing and sale is embraced by more and more companies, doing matchback is becoming more and more complicated.

The core functionality in matchback is the good old data matching, like: Does the name and address in a catalogue sending match (with a certain similarity) the name and address of a new buyer? But you also have to ask questions as: Is this buyer in fact a new buyer or did he buy before – in this channel or in another channel? Was this buyer also included in a concurrent email campaign? If private: Is the new buyer in the same household as an old buyer? If business: Does the new buyer belong to the same company family tree as the old buyer? Was the contact actually a contact at an old business customer?

Answering these questions will be a totally mess if you don’t have a solid party master data management program in place. You need to:

  • Store (or at least reference) all party entities from all channels in one single so called golden copy
  • Identify the same real world entities
  • Build the hierarchies necessary for current and possible future uses of data

Doing matchback is only one of many activities setting the requirements for party master data management program within an enterprise. And by the way: When that is up and running next thing you need is to manage your product master data the same way in order to make further analysis’s – and probably you also need to have a better structure and data quality with your location master data.

I keep my notes about Master Data Management here.

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Master Data meets the Customer

In the old days Master Data was predominately created, maintained and used by the staff in the organisation having these data. This is in many cases not the fact anymore. Besides exchanging data with partners in doing business, today the customer – and prospect – has become an important person to be considered when doing Data Governance and implementing technology around Master Data.

In the online world the customer works with your Master Data when:

  • The customer creates and maintains name, address and communication information by using registration functions
  • The customer searches for and reads product information on web shops and information sites

Having the prospects and customers helping with the name and address (party) data is apparently great news for lowering costs in the organisation. But in the long run you got yourself another silo with data and your Data Quality issues has become yet more challenging.

First thing to do is to optimise your registration forms. An important thing to consider here is that online is worldwide (unless you restrict your site to visitors from a single country). When doing business online with multi national customers then take care that the sequence, formats and labels are useful to everyone and that mandatory checks and other validations are in line with rules for the country in question.

External reference data may be used for lookup and validation integrated in the registration forms.

The concept of “one version of the truth” is a core element in most Master Data Management solutions. Doing deduplication within online registration have privacy considerations. When asking for personal data you can’t prompt “Possible duplicate found” and then present the data about someone else. Here you need more than one data quality firewall.

Many organisations are not just either offline or online but are operating in both worlds. To maintain the 360 degree view on customer in this situation you need strong data matching techniques capable of working with offline and online captured data. As the business case for online registration is very much about reducing staff involvement, this is about using technology and keeping human interaction to a minimum.

Search and navigationWhen a prospect comes to your site and tries to find information about your products, the first thing to do is very often using the search function. From deduplication of names and addresses we know that spelling is difficult and that sometimes we use other synonyms than used in the Master Data descriptions. Add to that the multi-cultural aspect. The solution here is that you use the same fuzzy search techniques that we use for data matching. This is a kind of reuse. I like that.

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