Ever since I became involved in the CRM and customer service markets, everyone – businesses, vendors, consultants and analysts – has been talking and writing about the “360-degree view of the customer”. Despite claims from several vendors, I haven’t seen any products that produce a full 360-degree view, and user organizations haven’t had the time or resources to develop the technology themselves. As our research into next-generation customer analytics shows, the main issue is data – organizations have far more of it than most realize. The research shows that organizations on average use eight data sources as input to analytics, but there are more than 20 potential sources of customer-related data and the situation is getting worse. Beyond the sheer volume of it, data now comes in several forms – structured, unstructured (such as call recordings and text), event data (for example, video that customers download) and process data.
One vendor that focuses on producing a comprehensive view is NGDATA. The last time I wrote about the company, I discussed its unique approach to accessing and connecting multiple sources of data to produce a complete set of information that amounts to a customer “DNA.” During a recent briefing, I learned that NGDATA is continuing in this approach and has added another product that takes advantage of customer data. Its core product, Lily Enterprise, is made up of three components: Technology, Customer DNA and Lily SmartVideo. As I mentioned, a key issue for any customer-related analytics is data. To address this, the Lily Technology is built on a big data platform that can ingest data from all sources, combine it into a single entity and carry out real-time and predictive analyses. The outputs are stored in the Hadoop database HBase, which is then used to update and visualize the Customer DNA. The system takes all the data and, based on predefined rules, can derive hundreds of customer-related metrics. NGDATA provides some standard metrics, but customers can define their own. These metrics are typically grouped into categories that relate to an aspect of the customer relationship: average financial spend, number of complaints, customer lifetime value and more. The system presents the metrics in visual form so users can immediately see the profile of a customer broken down into fine detail, hence the name Customer DNA. The latest release includes new features such as more dashboards, improved metrics calculation, improved aggregate calculation and visualization of more types of information. Users in all business groups can share these capabilities so anyone can focus on the categories of most interest to him or her within the overall customer profile.
At the end of 2016 NGDATA acquired Rednun and from it has developed Lily SmartVideo. In simple terms, this allows organizations to create highly personalized videos using Customer DNA data to make them personal to individual customers. The video can be embedded in email, websites and social media to deliver personalized information to a specific customer. The product includes libraries of video clips, which users can augment, and uses customer DNA data to personalize the text, images, logos, animation, audio and video. Our research into next-generation contact centers in the cloud shows that video is a technology typically taken up by early adopters, but as consumers become more used to making video calls, I expect it will be able to meet what our research shows is a key customer expectation – personalization.
Lily Customer DNA won a Ventana Research Leadership Award in 2016 for NGDATA as an innovative product. The key for me is its ability to process all customer data, and I find the visualization to be intuitive and engaging to use. Is it a complete 360-degree view? I suspect many would argue it is not because people have many different views of what should in a 360-degree view and the NGDATA visualization is different to what most organizations are used to. Personally I like the visualization because the information is all there and can be displayed in many formats. Moreover, I suggest organizations look beyond some of the messaging on the website, which is geared to marketing departments. Such information can help all business units drive information-driven decisions and actions, be it marketing, sales or customer service. As I have written several times, delivering exceptional customer experiences requires organizations to know their customers in as much detail as possible. Customer DNA goes a long way in meeting this need so I recommend that any organization looking to improve its customer relationships in the broadest sense assess how it can help those efforts.
VP & Research Director