|By Dan Smith||
|August 16, 2012 06:00 AM EDT||
Customer engagement has long benefited from data and analytics. Knowing more about each of your customers, their attributes, preferences, behaviors and patterns, is essential to fostering meaningful engagement with them. As technologies advance, and more of people's lives are lived online, more and more data about customers is captured and made available. At face value, this is good; more data means better analytics, which means better understanding of customers and therefore more meaningful engagement. However, volumes of data measured in terabytes, petabytes, and beyond are so big they have spawned the terms "Big Data" and "Big Analytics." At this scale, there are practical considerations that must be understood to successfully reap the benefits for customer engagement. This article will explore some of these considerations and provide some suggestions on how to address them.
Customer Data Management (CDM), also known as Customer Data Integration (CDI), is foundational for a Customer Intelligence (CI) or Customer Engagement (CE) system. CDM is rooted in the principles of Master Data Management (MDM), which includes the following:
- Acquisition and ingestion of multiple, disparate sources, both online and offline, of customer and prospect data
- Change Data Capture (CDC)
- Data cleansing, parsing, and standardization
- Entity Modeling
- Entity relationship and hierarchy management
- Entity matching, identity resolution, and persistent key management for key individual, household, company/institution/location entities
- Rules-based attribute mastering, "Survivorship" or "Build the Best Record"
- Data lineage, version history, audit, aging, and expiration
It's useful to first make the distinction between attributive and behavioral data. Attributive data, often referred to as profile data, is discrete fields that describe an entity such as an individual's name, address, age, eye color, and income. Behavioral data is a series of events that describe an entity's behavior over time, such as phone calls, web page visits, and financial transactions. Admittedly, there is a slippery slope between the two; a customer's current account balance can be either an attribute or an aggregation of behavioral transactions.
MDM typically focuses on attributive data. Being based on MDM, the same is true for CDM. Personally Identifying Information (PII) such as name, email, address, phone, and username are the primary drivers behind identity resolution. Other attributes such as income, number of children, or gender are attributes that are commonly "mastered" for each of the resolved entities (individual, household, company).
Enter Big Data. As more devices are developed - and adopted - that capture and store data, huge quantities of data are generated. Big Data, by definition, is almost always event-oriented and temporal, and the subset of Big Data that is relevant to a CE system is almost always behavioral in nature (clicks, calls, downloads, purchases, emails, texts, tweets, Facebook posts). Behavioral data is critical to understanding customers (and prospects). And, understanding customers is critical for establishing meaningful and welcome engagement with them. Therefore, Big Data is, or should be, viewed as an invaluable asset to any CE system.
Further, this sort of rich, temporal behavioral data is ripe for analytics. In fact, the term Big Analytics has emerged as a result. Big Analytics can be defined as the ability to execute analytics on Big Data. However, there are some real challenges involved in executing analytics on Big Data, challenges that drive the need for specialized technologies such as Hadoop or Netezza (or both). These technologies must support Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) and, just as importantly if not more so, they must bring the analytics to the data instead of bringing the data to the analytics. Having recently completed a course for Hadoop developers (an excellent course that I highly recommend), I have a heightened appreciation for the challenges related to managing and analyzing data "at scale" and the need for specialized technologies that support Big Data and Big Analytics.
A few significant points regarding Big Analytics should be considered:
- Big Analytics allow the build of models on an entire data set, rather than just a sampling or an aggregation. My colleague, Jack McCush, explains: "When building models on a small subset and then validating them against a larger set to make sure the assumptions hold, you can miss the ability to predict rare events. And often those rare events are the ones that drive profit."
- Big Analytics allow the build of non-traditional models, for example, social graphs and influencer analytics. Several useful and inherently big sources of data such as Call Detail Records (CDRs) generated from mobile/smart phones and web clickstream data both lend themselves well to these models.
- Big Analytics can take even traditional analytics to the next level. Big Analytics allows the execution of traditional correlation and clustering models in a fraction of the time, even with billions of records and hundreds of variables. As Revolution Analytics points out in Advanced 'Big Data' Analytics with R and Hadoop, "Research suggests that a simple algorithm with a large volume of data is more accurate than a sophisticated algorithm with little data. The algorithm is not the competitive advantage; the ability to apply it to huge amounts of data-without compromising performance-generates the competitive advantage."
Big Data is great for a CE system. It paints a rich behavioral picture of customers and prospects and takes CE-enabling analytics to the next level. But what happens when this massive behavioral data is thrown at a CDM/MDM system that is optimized for attributive data? A "basketball through the garden hose" effect might occur. But this doesn't have to happen; there are ways to gracefully extend CDM to manage Big Data.
The key is data classification. Attributive, or profile, data is classified separately from behavioral data. While both contain Source Native Key (e.g., cookie-based visitor id, cell phone number, device id, account number), attributive data can be structured only. Behavioral data, on the other hand, can be structured and unstructured and contains no PII. Big Data almost always falls under the behavioral category.
Importantly, behavioral data requires different processing than attributive data. Since the processing is different, the two streams can be separated just after ingestion, like a fork in the road, with the attributive data going one way and the behavioral data going the other. This is the key to integrating Big Data into a CDM-MDM system without grinding it to a halt. To be fair, the two streams aren't completely independent. The behavioral stream will typically require two things from the attributive stream: Dimension Tables and Master ID-to-Natural Key Cross-References - both of which can be considered as reference data.
For example, the "subscriber" dimension table may be required in the Big Data world so that it can be joined to the "web clicks" table. This is done in order to aggregate web clicks by subscriber gender, which only exists in the subscriber table.
Master ID-to-Natural Key Cross-References
Master IDs are created and managed in the CDM-MDM world, but they are often needed for linkage and aggregation in the Big Data world. Shadowing cross-references that map master IDs, such as master individual id, to "source natural keys" into the Big Data world solves this problem.
The two classifications of data are separated into two streams and processed (mostly) independently. How do they come back together? One way this architecture works is that both streams, attributive and behavioral, contain a "source natural key." This is a unique identifier that relates the two streams. For example, web clickstream data typically has an IP address or a web application-managed, cookie-based visitor ID. Transactional data typically has an account number. Mobile data will have a phone number or device ID. These identifiers don't have to mean anything, per se, but are critical for stitching the two streams back together.
It's not just the dimensionalized, aggregated data that is reunited with the profile data, but also the high-value, behavioral analytics attributes (predictive scores, micro-segmentations, etc.) created courtesy of Big Analytics. The attributive data is now greatly enriched by the output of the Big Data processing stream. And, to get things really crazy, these enriched behavioral analytics profile attributes can be used as part of the next cycle of matching; similar, complex behavior patterns can help tip the scales, causing two entities to match that might not have matched otherwise. In the end, CDM-MDM and Big Data can live together harmoniously; Big Data doesn't replace CDM-MDM, but rather extends it.
With SaaS use rampant across organizations, how can IT departments track company data and maintain security? More and more departments are commissioning their own solutions and bypassing IT. A cloud environment is amorphous and powerful, allowing you to set up solutions for all of your user needs: document sharing and collaboration, mobile access, e-mail, even industry-specific applications. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Shawn Mills, President and a founder of Green House Data, discussed h...
Jul. 31, 2015 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 423
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...
Jul. 31, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 493
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobi...
Jul. 31, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 276
There are many considerations when moving applications from on-premise to cloud. It is critical to understand the benefits and also challenges of this migration. A successful migration will result in lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet offer the same or higher level of robustness. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Michael Meiner, an Engineering Director at Oracle, Corporation, analyzed a range of cloud offerings (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and discussed the benefits/challenges of migrating to each offe...
Jul. 31, 2015 02:30 PM EDT
Chuck Piluso presented a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. Prior to Secure Infrastructure and Services, Mr. Piluso founded North American Telecommunication Corporation, a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier licensed by the Public Service Commission in 10 states, serving as the company's chairman and president from 1997 to 2000. Between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Piluso served as chairman & founder of International Te...
Jul. 31, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 366
Mobile, social, Big Data, and cloud have fundamentally changed the way we live. “Anytime, anywhere” access to data and information is no longer a luxury; it’s a requirement, in both our personal and professional lives. For IT organizations, this means pressure has never been greater to deliver meaningful services to the business and customers.
Jul. 31, 2015 01:45 PM EDT
In their session at 17th Cloud Expo, Hal Schwartz, CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), and Chuck Paolillo, CTO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), provide a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. In his role as CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), Hal Schwartz provides leadership and direction for the company.
Jul. 31, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 131
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
Jul. 31, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 162
[slides] A New Architecture for the Internet of Things By @JKirklan | @ThingsExpo @RedHatNews #IoT #M2M #InternetOfThings
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Jul. 30, 2015 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,401
Malicious agents are moving faster than the speed of business. Even more worrisome, most companies are relying on legacy approaches to security that are no longer capable of meeting current threats. In the modern cloud, threat diversity is rapidly expanding, necessitating more sophisticated security protocols than those used in the past or in desktop environments. Yet companies are falling for cloud security myths that were truths at one time but have evolved out of existence.
Jul. 30, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,807
Take the Long View with Digital Transformation By @IoT2040 | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #API #Microservices #InternetOfThings
Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology. Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve. Digital Transformation means: handling all the data types being found and created in the organizat...
Jul. 30, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,093
[slides] Workloads and Public Cloud at @CloudExpo By @utollwi | @ProfitBricksUSA #DevOps #Containers #Microservices
Public Cloud IaaS started its life in the developer and startup communities and has grown rapidly to a $20B+ industry, but it still pales in comparison to how much is spent worldwide on IT: $3.6 trillion. In fact, there are 8.6 million data centers worldwide, the reality is many small and medium sized business have server closets and colocation footprints filled with servers and storage gear. While on-premise environment virtualization may have peaked at 75%, the Public Cloud has lagged in adop...
Jul. 30, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,209
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jul. 30, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 455
The time is ripe for high speed resilient software defined storage solutions with unlimited scalability. ISS has been working with the leading open source projects and developed a commercial high performance solution that is able to grow forever without performance limitations. In his session at Cloud Expo, Alex Gorbachev, President of Intelligent Systems Services Inc., shared foundation principles of Ceph architecture, as well as the design to deliver this storage to traditional SAN storage co...
Jul. 30, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,749
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with ...
Jul. 30, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 106
The Cloud industry has moved from being more than just being able to provide infrastructure and management services on the Cloud. Enter a new era of Cloud computing where monetization’s services through the Cloud are an essential piece of strategy to feed your organizations bottom-line, your revenue and Profitability. In their session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, and Ian Khan, Global Strategic Positioning & Brand Manager at Solgenia, discussed how to easily o...
Jul. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 381
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Jul. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 273
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, S...
Jul. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,060
The speed of software changes in growing and large scale rapid-paced DevOps environments presents a challenge for continuous testing. Many organizations struggle to get this right. Practices that work for small scale continuous testing may not be sufficient as the requirements grow. In his session at DevOps Summit, Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect of DevOps continuous test solutions at Spirent Communications, explained the best practices of continuous testing at high scale, which is rele...
Jul. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,394
"Alert Logic is a managed security service provider that basically deploys technologies, but we support those technologies with the people and process behind it," stated Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 30, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 355