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The 3rd Annual IDM Data Summit, 5 March 2009

Released 23 March 2009: The third Data Summit was held at Jury’s Hotel in central London on March 5. A capacity audience of 100 delegates heard eleven speakers address the theme of this year’s conference ‘Data Management Strategy: Evolution or revolution?’ from different perspectives. For those who missed it or who simply want an aide-memoire, here’s a summary of the day by the IDM’s own Peter Mouncey F IDM.

In his opening remarks, Summit Chair Iain Lovatt, chairman of the IDM Data Council, described the increased importance of effective and innovative data management in a recession and how this was essential to gaining competitive advantage in the current economic climate.

Part 1. Challenges in Data Management

My Top 5 Client Challenges
Nigel Grimes, previously Customer Insight Director, RBS
Latterly Director of Customer Insight at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Nigel Grimes opened the day by describing the five key challenges he’d identified over his twenty year experience in data management roles within leading companies across a wide spectrum of market sectors.

The challenges ranged from gaining customers consent to market to them, reducing the wastage inherent in many direct marketing campaigns, raising the profile of data and data governance within the company, the need to integrate data from different sources in creating insight that would drive the business forward, and finally what Grimes called the 4 new Ps: Personalisation, Participation, Peer to Peer and Predictive Modelling.

Grimes particularly focussed on the challenge organisations faced when a high proportion of their customer databases contained ‘do not contact’ tags, in terms of lost marketing opportunities, lost revenue and the inability to build relationships with these customers. Research showed this to be an increasing challenge and Grimes advocated the need to have consent rate KPIs to focus the whole organisation on minimising the impact on business strategy. To reduce wastage, Grimes argued for value rather than volume, more emphasis on data cleansing and pre-screening, better modelling and a return to traditional testing programmes.

The salutary lesson from Grimes presentation was that many of the issues he raised have been around for a long time and continue to inhibit the effective use of customer data within so many organisations. We still have a lot to do.

Safeguarding your most valuable asset – your data
Lisa Bentall, Director, DQM Group
Gary Brown, Product and Marketing Director, Thomson Local

If Nigel Grimes touched on the impact of inadequate data governance strategies, it was a theme covered in depth by Lisa Bentall. Bentall outlined the cost to organisations of poor governance, usually the result of staff negligence and other internal factors, citing recent examples covering call centre infiltration, misuse of data and poor security processes.

She described the increasing risk to brand image and lost business such as contracts being terminated in the public sector and customers taking their business away from companies after bad publicity on data security issues. Bentall also described the increasing powers of the ICO to deal with poor governance and provided delegates with a comprehensive strategy that organisations should adopt in order to minimise the risk.

To illustrate these points Gary Brown described the strategy within Thompson Local covering the sales process, seeded lists and rigorous enforcement, for protecting their database of company information, their core asset, and why they take a very tough line on infringements by either their own staff or third parties. To quote Brown ‘we take no prisoners’! He reminded delegates that the cost of security failures can be extremely high and recommended that governance be treated as a continuous process: plan-do-check-act.

Part 2. Innovations in Data Management

Journal of the market intelligent retailer – getting started
Rod Street, Executive Partner, IBM
Street described in detail the journey of a leading price comparison eretailer in moving towards customer centricity, and the key role played by data.

The goals were to enable individual customers to be identified, to differentiate the offer by customer need & value and to interact effectively with each customer across product categories. Street identified the benefits, or ‘prizes’ of attaining these goals and reminded delegates that effective CRM strategies are even more essential within a recession in defending the customer base from competitor attacks. Key challenges that needed to be addressed included the difficulties of identifying individual customers in the internet environment and overcoming internal data ownership issues to facilitate a single view of a customer.

Street outlined the implementation strategy, the key factors that contributed to success and the challenges that proved more difficult to overcome than expected, such as scope-creep, support from senior management and project team management. The lessons learned included the need for resource commitment, marrying the vision with pragmatic decisions and the need for appropriate investment, especially in IT infrastructure and staff.

How a new data stream, experience data, provides clients with a competitive advantage
Fiona Blades, Chief Experience Officer, MESH Planning
Blades’ session described the multi-award winning methodology developed at MESH for measuring the impact and effectiveness of advertising.

process is based on a panel of target consumers usingxt messaging to log all their ‘touchpoints’ with a selection of brands, one of which is the client product. Respondents text in all their contacts, or experiences related to the brands (e.g. references by friends, use of catch phrases etc) as they happen, to enable the emotion at the time to be captured, rather than relying on flawed after-the-event recall. Blades argued that the emotion felt at a ‘touchpoint’ is virtually impossible to accurately recall after the event. The texts are backed up with an online diary, or blog, to add more depth plus some additional tasks.

Blades identified the benefits, covering new metrics to measure the effectiveness of campaigns, capturing data covering the customer journey, identifying the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’, and high participant engagement. The presentation contained examples from real campaigns to demonstrate how the data is collected, typical findings and applications such as mapping the rise and decay of a catchphrase and detecting where local strategy had diverged within an international campaign. A future challenge to be addressed was integrating experience data with data from other sources.

Part 3. Solutions to address the multi-channel data challenge

Multi-channel goes personal
Hugh Wilson, Professor of Strategic Marketing, Cranfield
Wilson began his session by describing the proliferation of channels, citing the financial services market as an example. Based on his extensive research in this field at Cranfield, Wilson argued why multi-channel integration matters to consumers, and companies, describing the steps towards customer experience management from product transactional to intelligent dialogue.

As with Street, Wilson emphasised the importance of developing a single view of the customer, and he showed how few organisations are able to holistically manage their channel strategy. Wilson illustrated his talk with real examples from interactions with companies to demonstrate the general lack of joined up thinking there is in the market at present, but finished with an example from O2 to show that it is possible to have an intelligent dialogue with customers that not only utilises, at point of contact, the data held about individual customers, but also uses the conversation content to match identified need with an appropriate response or offer.

With the rapidly increasing, and disparate, sources of data, the challenge for management is to make sense of all this information overload and make better informed decisions.

The ever-more- vital role of knowledge management in global success: a cook’s tour of techniques and outcomes
Luke Allen, Managing Director, Nunwood: Knowledge Systems
Luke Allen described how some of the challenges described in the previous session can be met by centralising data and creating dashboard style reporting tools.

Allen summarised the reasons why, in his experience, organisations find this a difficult course to follow and then outlined the steps necessary in developing an integrated data set that can then be readily updated as new information flows in. He outlined why, rather than providing a complete solution at the outset, initial outputs should be relatively simple, then add value and complexity once users become familiar with the tools. He also described why automated reporting provided users with extra value, using the latest document formatting tools. Finally, Allen described how social network technologies provide important new routes to create data sharing opportunities within an organisation, that are both simple to build, easy to use and low cost.

Part 4. Web 2.0 – Innovations in data sourcing and management

Digital demographics: measuring the digital profile in the Web 2.0 world
Tom Ilube, CEO, Garlik
Ilube opened the session by describing how his company had harnessed the content available about people on the internet to start building individual level digital demographic profiles.

The process, based on matrices and Eigenvectors, collects up to 200 weighted factors of information about individuals, from a mass of websites. These are reduced to four dimensions covering popularity, activity, impact and individuality from which an overall score is created. Ilube illustrated the methodology by showing example scores for leading politicians, celebrities, religious leaders and sports people. You can produce a score for yourself on the Garlik website,, and see if it beats Barack Obama (Q9398) or Britney Spears (Q12333)! Could this become the geodemographics of the digital age?

The hidden dimension: emotion
Martin Oxley, MD, Buzzback
Oxley argued that the market research industry lagged behind other sectors in the creative use of the internet. The main usage to date being internet based questionnaire surveys, replicating the traditional methodologies for data collection.

Instead, Oxley believes that researchers should be using this new medium to engage more effectively with ‘real’ consumers who are irrational, often unconsciously aware of their motivations and in around 80% of occasions communicate using non verbal methods.

Better engagement leads to deeper and more revealing insights that provide clients with a competitive edge. Oxley described the development of eCollage as a research method that addresses these challenges, allowing participants to use images to build up a collage of how they feel about an issue, product etc, which they then describe in words. Oxley showed that this process can lead to a much more comprehensive and in-depth description of feelings, attitudes etc than would be the case if the collage had not been built.

In one example on green issues, traditional methods had provided a literal, activity based response (Recycle/recycling 72%, Preserve environment 36% etc), whereas the eCollage method showed a range of emotional, aspirational and personal responses (Preserve environment 54%, Beauty/wildlife/nature 35% etc). The text responses are then analysed using a process called verbatim viewer that connects patterns in the words and phrases. Further examples showed similar findings for projects in the health food sector, and one on depression that through eCollage showed the perceptual differences between patients and psychiatrists.

The vast ocean of information online, and how to navigate your brand in rough times
Matthew Bayfield, Managing Partner, A good listener
Barack Obama’s Facebook Fan Page has more than 4million fans, while 3,000 people comment on the Facebook CNN feed per minute. Matthew Bayfield described how a new generation of keyword search and linguistic text mining tools is helping organisations pay attention and make sense of the rapidly growing mass of data and information on the web and demonstrated how they can be utilised. He concluded with two golden rules – only pay attention to the things everyone else is paying attention to, and think like a consumer!

Imagine a world ‘… where nothing can possibly go wrong’
Duncan Smith, Director, iCompli™ Limited
The final presentation of the day outlined the need for caution when harvesting the rich seam of material available on the internet. The four main legal risks in the web 2.0 world comprised confidential data leaks, defamation, harassment and infringing intellectual property rights. Just because data is in the public domain it is not necessarily available for commercial purposes.

Smith described in detail the key issues under each of these four headings, with examples to illustrate the pitfalls out there. He advised delegates not to let the technology get ahead of governance, as this could lead to an unpleasant brush with the law, and to use the technologies now available to provide a web 2.0 governance framework.

In conclusion

The presentations from this year’s IDM Data Summit underlined the growing diversity of data sources available to support marketing strategy, plus the need for creative thinking and innovation if the benefits of all this potential knowledge are to be fully realised.

Governance is also an issue of growing importance. The impact of poor governance can be extremely costly in terms of breaking the law, loosing customers, reducing marketing opportunities and damaging brand image.

Overall, several presentations clearly demonstrated that creating an effective centralised and holistic data management strategy remains a big challenge for many organisations. Without this in place, it is impossible to create a single view of your customers, develop effective multi-channel campaigns, use all available data in contacts with customers, deliver excellent service to customers and it inhibits the ability to develop accurate reporting systems to track progress.

Speakers also demonstrated how the power of new technologies and the changing pattern of social communications can be harnessed to engage more effectively with consumers and gain a deeper understanding of their needs and attitudes. Finally, the web 2.0 sessions showed that we are still only at the beginning of a huge journey in understanding how this world works and how best to make sense of it from a marketing perspective.

Finally, the DQM group and the IDM Data Council used the event to launch a benchmarking survey of data governance best practice. If you would like to see how your own organisation compares, then visit


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