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Reduce your number of brains to become more intelligent and compliant.

Published: Friday, 28 July 2017 by Matthew Tod, Head of Analytics, D4t4 Solutions plc

Many organizations I have engaged with recently deliver a disjointed customer experience despite significant investment in technology.  The problem is that in an eager rush to deliver a better, more relevant, customer experience multiple ‘brains’ have been developed; every channel works in isolation to its own agenda to optimize its own results using its own algorithms. Vendors all highlight the intelligent capabilities of their technology, which is fine but can result in an incoherent customer experience. 

A recent client I worked with had the following scenario:

1. Email:  Personalization based upon email interaction, or best case using historical attributes or segments from a CRM system
2. Site personalization:  Driven by current online behavior with added CRM variables
3. Social media:  Feeds of data sent to Facebook to deliver personalized ads based upon totally separate campaign rules
4. Retargeting:  Uses the last interaction as the driver for display advertising
5. Display advertising:  Totally separate targeting not taking any current customer or prospect data into account
6. Contact center:  Standalone rules based offers that relied on infrequent customer segmentation that used not digital data
7. Direct mail:  This used a model based on core CRM data, less the digital behavior but augmented with external data

There were in effect seven different brains attempting to optimize, and the results were terrifying. For a consumer, it was totally confusing - the number of different offers and promotions were simply incomprehensible, and the noise this made caused the consumers to simply tune out and not respond. The more ‘intelligent marketing’ undertaken the less good results became as consumer response rates fell and who could blame those consumers! From a business perspective, I was less than convinced that all the groups running around optimizing their one channel were really creating profit, it felt like a case of ‘busy fools’.

This situation has also caused the client a major headache when it comes to GDPR compliance. The new rules granting consumers access to their data, the right to restrict processing and to deletion as well as the much stronger consent were identified as major risks and so have to be eliminated. There is no practical means to comply with the existing multiple data sources / multiple brains set up.

So, what’s the answer? Well I can’t say definitively but the first steps on the road to recovery are being taken as the client implements a single brain that will act as the master and will control the output across all channels.  They are implementing a ‘collect once, use many times’ model (See my note on the CEO Manifesto) augmented with a single real-time interaction management tool to make the decisions centrally and then drive execution through all channels.

This diagram shows the core conceptual idea the client is following.

Clearly this has a significant impact on the technology choices the client is making; delivery channels are being dumbed down and this is saving lots of money, which is then reinvested in the core real time interaction manager or unified experience decision engine - otherwise known as the brain. Logically this feels sensible, it is easier to control, massively simplifies compliance with GDPR and other regulations and should ensure customers are presented with a coherent set of messages.  

I believe that this will be a very practical application of the ‘less is more’ mantra and it will deliver for the client in spades.

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