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Data Integration: A High Priority for Enterprises, With Plans for Progress
When it comes to data integration for customer experience, the bad news is that a majority of enterprises believe they aren’t fully utilizing all the data they can in all the ways that they can. The good news is that a large majority are prioritizing getting to that performance goal.
That was my biggest takeaway from Omdia principal analyst Mila D'Antonio'sopening keynote at this week’s Enterprise Connect virtual event, “Transforming the Customer Experience.” D'Antonio reported on data from Omdia’s just-completed “State of Digital CX 2023” survey, a research project that looked at the biggest challenges in “delivering personalized, proactive, and seamless engagement across touchpoints.” The most often cited challenges: for 53% of respondents, it’s “lack an integrated view of customer data,” while 52% “have multiple interfaces and systems per agent.”
These challenges likely stem from another survey finding: When it comes to challenges around leveraging data within the organization, 48% of respondents can’t integrate data from disparate sources; 47% say data isn’t transparent and accessible; and 44% say it’s too time consuming to query omnichannel data. What’s worse: in last year’s survey, 42% cited the inability to integrate data from disparate sources as a challenge, a 14% increase in survey respondents whose tech ecosystems are not doing what they need them to do.
Enterprises need to integrate data, interfaces, and systems in order to create “coordinated, end to end experience orchestration,” D’Antonio said. And there seem to be signs that communications professionals understand this requirement. The Omdia survey found that 71% of respondents are planning to invest in data integration, another 70% plan to invest in application integration; and 62% plan to invest in cloud integration.
Specifically, 63% plan to invest in database, data lake, and data warehouse platforms; 62% will invest in data APIs and embedded analytics; 55% will invest in data integration, transformation, and processing ; and 53% plan to invest in customer data platforms (CDP);; and.
As D’Antonio summed it up, “Companies recognize the need to connect disparate data sources.” The goal of capturing, managing, and integrating data is to create unified customer profiles, or “golden customer records,” a single source of truth that provides contact centers—agents, chatbots, or other systems—with the context that lets them deliver the personalization customers demand.
This alignment is critical, D’Antonio said, citing responses to a survey question, “What strategic data-focused initiatives is your organization undertaking to improve customer insights?” The top-ranked answer, at 48%, was “Operationalizing customer journeys by aligning them to employee processes.” To further help achieve this objective, D’Antonio recommended that enterprises focus on breaking down organizational silos that tend to impede such alignment. She summed it up simply: “It’s cultural.”
Of course, no discussion of contact centers is complete without AI, and the Omdia survey offered insights here too. Though generative AI gets most of the attention these days, Omdia found that enterprises are gaining benefits from conversational AI technologies were in place well before ChatGPT burst on the scene last year. The survey showed that 59% of respondents said AI-powered technologies
are helping them better understand customer needs, while 57% said AI was helping increase customer retention and satisfaction, and 57% said it was delivering increased revenue.
So, while the promise of data integration and the hype of AI may still outpace the reality most enterprises are experiencing, there’s clearly been progress, and a recognition that investments in this area should be able to deliver benefits.