Everybody talks about silos in describing one of the chief obstacles to data sharing, and a silo makes me think of a farmer.
Farmers store feed in silos, but when they are ready to use it, the job isn’t done when they open the silo door. They have to spread out the feed so livestock have easy access.
Progressive companies who offer universal login — also known as single sign-on (SSO) — are doing just that with data about their customers. They are providing data troughs, spreading the information around with plenty of access points for stakeholders.
So let’s tear down the silos, fill the troughs and embark on a more effective way of sharing information about customers. There are rewards in it for both companies and customers.
Based on our experience helping companies embrace SSO and a universal customer profile that shares data across brands, here are three keys to moving from silos to troughs.
First, brands need reassurance that their customers, sponsors or advertisers won’t be diverted to sister brands if internal teams are sharing data. A solid customer identity and access management (CIAM) platform is the key here. After the rules are set within the company, its CIAM solution can be used to automate the appropriate policies.
If, for example, a consumer buys Brand A and Brand C within a larger company, the company can limit Brand B’s sales and marketing access to that customer. If customers haven’t interacted with Brand B, they will fail the segmentation test and be excluded from that brand’s marketing programs. In this instance the CIAM platform not only contributes to building a centralized profile and an improved customer experience, but also protects brands against missteps in communications and outreach. (See my “Defragging Customer Data” blog for a deeper dive.)
Second, protecting brand identity. Brands spend millions establishing a brand identity in the minds of consumers. That identity probably includes a logo; it may also include an association with a sport or celebrity; and it extends to its advertising and marketing campaigns, including its web and mobile properties.
A chief fear that surfaces when talking about shared data and a universal login is the loss of the brand’s unique identity. CIAM rules can allow brands to maintain their uniqueness right down to the fonts, colors, text and feel of the user interface, across every channel where login occurs.
Third, adopting a universal login approach across brands doesn’t prevent customization and collection of additional data beyond the baseline customer profile, something referred to as “progressive profiling.” For example, at a sporting goods conglomerate offering universal login, a shoe sub-brand may still ask relevant profile questions, such as shoe size, during the authentication process, while a sister brand that makes ski clothing might ask jacket size.
It’s a better world for business and for customers with data troughs instead of data silos, but it’s also a huge change in corporate thinking that must be driven from the top and managed throughout the deployment process.
In our experience, stakeholders want assurance that sharing information and working from a universal customer profile will lead to improved marketing in the greater interest of the business.
Next in our series: Corporate data standards and regional modifications.
By Craig Ferrara