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Thursday, November 15, 2012

IRM trumps CRM and it will require BIG Data


Replacing flawed CRM, is Individual Relationship Management.

IRM is the new black and it trumps Customer Relationship Management.

Whether or not you buy our arguments in the two previous blogs on this topic, I will first say that neither IRM or CRM can deliver relevant data without what is now being called BIG Data.

One of the last sessions at this year's PhoCusWright conference was on Big Data with Christopher Lynch. 

Lynch said "We are in the midst of a data tsunami" and in short, he believes that BIG data is the savior (or at the very least, the Coast Guard).  

I learned today that a petabyte = one quadrillion bytes. 

An Economist video reports that the quantity of global data is forecast to be a staggering 7,910 exabytes by 2015, over 60 times greater than 2005. In this future, says The Economist, people will live in a world of sensors and software in which their “every move is instantly digitized and added to the flood of public data.”

OK, according to Wikipedia, an exabyte is equal to one quintillion bytes.  This led me to write my last post about the new lingo we'll need to understand the enormity of Big Data. 

Back to my point, I should start by giving you the short answer of why is CRM flawed.  It is pretty simple. 

If I fill out a profile and transact on your site, you gather a lot of information about me.  You may even think that you can predict what I want, based on what I bought last week, last month, last year.  Or perhaps conjecture what I would like by knitting in the kind of car I drive, where I live or how many children I reported when I responded to the last census.

In business travel, or anytime I am traveling alone, you may actually be right - some of the time. But if I am traveling with others, or under different circumstances than my last trip (even for business), you may be dead wrong.  If my last trip was a business development trip with a big potential client, I may have stayed at the Four Seasons and if this trip is for training, there is likely a Fairfield Inn in my future.  Even if I'm traveling alone, if my last trip was to visit my parents in the nursing home in Heyburn Idaho, just because I stayed in the Super 8 motel, doesn't mean that I want another budget hotel this trip.   

In short, the past is not prologue on travel.

If you have graduated to more sophisticated CRM, you may have tagged each customer in your client database with a persona that represents the likely segmentation.  And some of you may have even changed how you serve up content or products, or changed how your call center interacts with your clients.  Bravo.

But the minute I travel for a different reason (e.g. Intent) or with someone else (e.g. Situation), traditional CRM breaks down.   When a person that fits into one persona, travels with someone that fits into another, compromise happens.  It is very difficult to predict the outcome of the "combination" of two or more personas.  

I am excited about Big Data for one reason.  Correlation.  The correlation that is possible by looking at a broad range of sources for transactional and demographic information, combined with transactional data, like search habits and purchases, gives us the basis for parlaying that information into a multi-dimensional perspective.

In order to produce true relevance, which everyone agrees is the holy grail, we must shift from single dimensional profiles, which record preferences for a variety of types of travel, to a multi-dimensional profile.  Then big data can be deployed and can indeed come to our rescue.

Stay tuned. 
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