Let me say first though that I’m sorry I’ve not had time to blog for the last couple of weeks, what with following up on DMM5, extra public holidays here in the UK and doing the day job so I’ll put DMM5 to bed first. It seems such a long time ago now but I think this year’s Data Migration Matters event was the best ever. We sold out in advance, again. We had potential sponsors knocking on the door again who we could not accommodate given our determination to keep the right delegate / sponsor ratio. I personally enjoyed some excellent presentations and got to meet up with some familiar faces and meet some new and interesting people.
One of these interesting guys was Henry Sykes of CCR. Now CCR have been around for some time (over sixteen years). They started off in the direct mailing business - and this is still a considerable strength of theirs, with bespoke mailings for likes of the Cartier and Polo brands. This, of course, swiftly led them into data cleansing and enhancement and leading a growing sophistication in targeted mailings. We are now in an era where email and viral marketing means that the relative low cost of mailings has created a blizzard of mail. Therefore if you want your message to be heard and responded to positively you need to exercise more care. The possibility of damaging your brand is ever present - especially if that brand is a prestige one like Cartier.
The natural progression therefore was from mailing to CRM and here in their story we encounter Salesforce and data migration. It has to be said that although CCR are a data cleansing partner for Salesforce they do not restrict themselves as a Salesforce only shop but see themselves as offering data management services across any repository domain. For the sake of this blog however I’m going to stick with Salesforce as an exemplar of that market segment where I see the most interesting growth right now.
Talking to Henry we find that he encounters all the standard issues of any data migration - performing data quality analysis and profiling, suppressing duplicates, correcting structural issues and having those conversations with people about not migrating data. He is also familiar with the essential but often overlooked tasks (within what we in Practical Data Migration bundle into Landscape Analysis) of teasing out data hidden in spreadsheets, web pages, email blasting systems, exhibition and conference systems as well as existing enterprise applications. All of this often within the Salesforce / mid sized enterprise environment.
And it’s not that these mid-sized enterprises do not have significant data sets. It is quite typical for, say, a local football club (that’s “soccer club” for my American readers) to have hundreds of thousands of names and contact details to wade through when marketing their hospitality offerings. This customer data will be held in different formats on different applications to different standards and be as rammed full of duplicates as one might expect. As is also often the case elsewhere, there will also be no local expertise in de-duplicating these sources, enriching the data (e.g. with wealth data), parsing, combining and loading it efficiently into a new target like Salesforce.
However Henry agrees with my feelings that over the last five years the recognition within the medium to large scale enterprise of the market value of data (especially customer data) has grown. The challenge is how to engage with this need at a price point that makes sense both to the suppliers and the clients. The need is there - witness the growth of Salesforce, but the apparent low price of access to the software means there has been a market reluctance to pay a realistic fee for the expert advice needed to take full advantage of the software. It appears that this is now changing. The question is still, though, how to create a proposition that does not scare off potential purchasers. CCR get around this by offering packages of activities that start at price points that appeal to potential purchasers in this band. They also, of course, have the benefits of economies of scale, being specialists in data cleansing and preparation of customer marketing data and have a value add derived from over fifteen years in B2C marketing. On the other hand the medium sized enterprises are also seeing the benefit of investing in better CRM data. Many having already dipped their toe in the water on a DIY basis, made a bit of mess of it, see their competitors doing a better and job and can now define an ROI in performing these tasks more efficiently by cleaning up data and using more fit for purposes software platforms. They are therefore more likely to be actively looking for support in the market place.
So maybe the likes of CCR are cracking the hard nut of moving effective data management down the company scale from the very large global enterprises through the large national to regional and then medium sized businesses. They are doing this in part by sticking to a clear niche proposition where they have demonstrable experience. Find out more about CCR.
As I said earlier, this, for me, is a far more significant area for growth over the next few years than Big Data - a technology that by its very nature is only for the few, albeit with sexier technology and a lot more buzz about it and far more grandiose marketing claims.
Please let me know what you think.
Twitter - @johnymorris
About the author
John Morris has over 20 years experience in IT as a programmer, business analyst, project manager and data architect. He has spent the last 10 years working exclusively on data migration and system integration projects. John is the author of Practical Data Migration.