Business Topics

Don’t bet on your CRM system alone

Many, many years ago I used to be a CRM consultant, with certificates in many tools. Each of these vendors promised that it would increase marketing and sales effectiveness and efficiency. 

Don´t bet on your CRM system alone

Basically it was building on the idea that you would get a “360 degree view of your customer” and that you would be able to reach out to each and every customer with the right offer at the right time using any available channel. 

About 5 years ago I realized that this promise wasn’t going to be achieved by CRM vendors. In order to re-use data stored in other systems for marketing purposes, expensive and cumbersome data integration (sub) project were needed. Think of the order and shipping data in the ERP system, the invoices in Finance systems and the service calls and warranty claims in Customer Service systems. It became clear that the CRM systems became yet another data silo within the IT landscape of enterprises.

At the same time social media popped up like daisies and companies were facing yet another source of information and a channel to communicate with customers. This has had a huge impact on B2C marketing. And marketeers in the B2B domain, continued to use various sources to enrich the data of their business customers. In other words there was still “other” data that was not available in the CRM system.

It became obvious to me that CRM applications would never be able to give the full solution, which marketeers needed. In my opinion CRM failed to deliver on the best-of-suite promise. I am not the only one having this opinion; Bill O’Kane and Kimberly Collings of Gartner think the same. See their article “Gartner Says Master Data Management Is Critical to CRM Optimization”.

So what is the solution, in fact it is quite simple. Stick to the best-of-breed strategy and use applications for the following three areas that suit you best. Each of these areas requires specific tooling and knowledge, which you won’t find in a one-size-fits-all application. 

  1. Customer Data Management. This area is also known as Master Data Management for Customer Data. It is about validating the customer information, matching the customer records coming from various sources and consolidating the information into the so-called Golden Record
  2. Customer Analytics. Once you have successfully mastered and implemented customer data management your most likely need will be to harvest the information out of all gathered data. With the Golden Records available it is easy to create meaningful and trustworthy reports and start segmenting your target groups. The vendors of Business Intelligence tools dominate this area.  Think of Microsoft Business Intelligence, Cognos and more recent ones like Pentaho, Klipfolio and Tableau. When you really have a lot of data, you probably require data mining tools like SAS and SPSS to build marketing models. Having a BI tool in place will enable you to process data that is not directly related to a specific customer, but nonetheless relevant for defining target groups. For instance the average size of a garden per zip-code area is very useful if you try to sell garden houses. I wouldn’t aim for customers living in the inner cities of Amsterdam or Frankfurt…
  3. Campaign Management. Last but not least you need to be able to communicate with the customer, which has the highest probability to respond to your next campaign. The campaign management tool is fed with the list of Golden Records to be targeted. It should take the channel preference into account and track the response. So we end-up with closed-loop marketing. Each marketing action results in a marketing reaction. Learning of the reactions you can continuously improve your marketing campaigns. And good campaign management tools go beyond just mailing shots, but support interaction with our customers across all kind of channels. Examples of tools are SiteCore, IgnitionOne and Silverpop. Gartner has published a Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs.

Uniserv provides a solution for Customer Data Management called “Smart Customer MDM”. Building on 45 years of expertise in Data Quality and Identity Resolution we offer a solution. As it is web services based it is as easy to store customer information in, as getting it out and re-use the cleansed, deduplicated data in any of your other systems. It uses the latest Big Data technologies for handling enormous number of records. The storage of all data is done in MongoDB, which is the most popular open-source NoSQL database for enterprises. It is offered as a full-service, so no worries about investing in new hardware (Cap-Ex Free), monitoring and support, automatic updates etc.

Please contact us to learn how we are helping more and more companies to cope with their customer data overload. 


For more than 20 years Ramon de Noronha is active in the Customer Data domain. Initially as database marketeer and CRM manager. At that time he spend most of his time on acquiring various address lists, in order to get the highest response on mailing campaigns. Ramon implemented CRM systems in order to help the campaign managers and to get Sales involved. Later on Ramon moved towards the Business Intelligence domain. 

Big data warehouses with all data available to do even better campaigns, but also have infinite reports for all levels in the organisation. He realised that you really need to have good data to get trustworthy reports. So that was the reason he entered the arena of MDM and reference data management. In the past years he has been responsible for an huge MDM project at a Dutch bank, with the focus on stocks and bonds. And, he was the Global MDM Solution Manager at a international “paint & finishes” company. Since 2014 Ramon is with Uniserv and responsible for acquiring new MDM projects and starting them up.

Ramon de Noronha 
+31 (0) 6 39 454 122