Extract More Value From CRM With Customer Master Data Management

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February 17 2020

It will not come as a surprise to anyone who has had to get leadership buy-in to invest in customer master data management to hear how frequently people in that position hear this commonly asked question: “Doesn’t CRM do that already?

It doesn’t surprise me since I thought the exact same thing when I first began working in this space. It just seemed hard to fathom that, A) given the incredible importance of CRM in the enterprise ecosystem (more familiar to most people now than ERP), B) the almost universal acceptance of this class of enterprise software to current day business success (largest and still fastest growing class of enterprise software per Gartner), and C) the incredible fanaticism supporters of CRM have spread throughout the corporate world, that CRM doesn’t already possess what seem to be critical functionalities.

To cut to the chase, the answer to that question is, “I realize it might sound crazy, but despite the amazing things CRM can do to bring businesses and their customers closer together, those applications don’t do a number of essential things you might expect them to.”

CRM is not master data management

The decision to add MDM is never about whether CRM itself adds value; the answer to that is an unequivocal “yes,” customer relationship management is more important today than ever before. And in a certain number of instances, CRM alone may be adequate, for example if a company uses just a single instance of CRM.

CRM providers promote MDM functionality, but they fall short, especially with data governance.

That does still happen. Though anyone involved with CRM for a few years or more will attest to the fact that such situations are increasingly rare.

And even if they have only one instance, data enrichment is still required for optimal business process efficiency. Cross-referencing is another challenge with CRM that customer MDM can address through the identification of relationships and hierarchies.

CRM builds strong relationships. CRM + Customer MDM makes them stronger

The issue is not simply that companies today commonly have multiple instances of CRM. It is that their customer data lives in multiple enterprise apps, which complicates the process of creating a single customer view (SCV) and making it accessible to everyone who needs it. Another issue is CRM is focused on contact information, which alone doesn’t serve the evolving customer experience driven needs of the organization. This is where master data management comes in.

According to Kimberly Collins, Managing Vice President for Customer Service Applications at Gartner, “Master data management is a critical success factor in constructing and executing optimal customer experience management processes. Application leaders responsible for CRM and CX projects or programs must incorporate the MDM discipline into their overall strategy.”1

The benefits of adding MDM to CRM

Many organizations with significant investments in CRM try and make it the basis of a customer master data quality and governance program. What they don’t realize is CRM was not designed for these roles. One reason being CRM doesn’t have the ability to create a single, up-to-date, centralized customer record across the enterprise, incorporating and updating information created and stored in a myriad of otherwise siloed data sources, systems and applications.

CRM is indispensable but since it doesn’t create a single platform, it can increase problems caused by siloed data.

Given the enormous focus companies across every industry have on improving their customer experience (CX) and customer-centricity, and driving customer engagement, loyalty and revenue through personalization (just to name a few basics), it shouldn’t take long to win support from senior management, once they see how customer MDM complements and improves the value of their long-term investment in CRM. A quick summary of common challenges MDM helps CRM address includes:

1. Customer data quality: Get the data right and you dramatically increase chances of winning. Get it wrong, and… This is especially important when there is more than one instance of CRM. When one of them is required to be chosen as the “winner,” it is quite possible nobody will win.

2. Empowering data stewardship: Without MDM, maintaining customer data quality across the organization often falls to people with broader responsibilities. This can result in data stewards losing focus on data that is less relevant to their personal needs. Customer MDM empowers them to cover all the bases.

3. Delivering data governance: Without MDM, CRM requires teams to manually map and normalize data to match what the system demands. Customer MDM enables them to speed and automate this process and to adhere closely to enterprise data quality and regulatory standards.

4. Eliminating data silos: No matter how you look at it, CRM can be defined as a data silo (with its own database, identities for customers, etc). This is one of the biggest causes of a poor CX. Customer MDM makes this a non-issue.

5. Present at creation: There are many sources of customer data which can be separated into two basic groups. Sanctioned data from IT driven systems like ERP and CRM, and unsanctioned data that lives in spreadsheets, end user databases and even websites. Customer MDM handles both.


Take customer relationship management to the next level by adding Customer MDM

CRM has proven itself as a truly indispensable asset to virtually any company that works with customers. Meaning pretty much everyone. Yet, it hasn’t delivered on the promise of providing a single platform for enterprise customer data.

For many organizations, this has exacerbated problems created by application and data silos and has made creating a single, centralized view of customer data far more complex.

Fortunately, customer MDM helps address this challenge. Combined with CRM, customer master data management creates a fool-proof solution to effectively collect, consolidate and maintain customer data across multiple implementations of CRM and other enterprise applications, and to replace fragmented, outdated or duplicate data with complete, timely and accurate trustworthy customer records.

For more information on the topic, read our executive brief on the topic, CRM is Not Customer MDM: Take customer relationships to the next level by combining CRM with Customer MDM.

It’s a great tool to share with others in your organization who may have questions about why you are recommending the addition of Customer MDM to supplement and improve the ROI on their current investment in CRM.

Or to learn more about our unique multidomain approach to master data management, or Stibo Systems’ Customer MDM solution that drives customer centricity and maximizes the value of your investment in CRM, visit stibosystems.com.

CRM is Not Customer MDM - Download the Executive Brief

1“MDM Is Critical to CRM and Customer Experience,” Gartner Research, Kimberly Collins, Managing VP for Customer Service Applications, 2017


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Helen Grimster is solution strategy director for Customer Master Data Management. With +20 years’ experience in customer and product data, and information and image management, at companies including Dun & Bradstreet, Informatica and Riversand, she brings multidomain expertise and insight that makes her a valued resource for Stibo Systems’ customers and colleagues, alike.



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