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Getting a 360° view of your data: An interview with Robert Eve

Tibco's Robert Eve tells Comma why businesses should be excited about data virtualisation

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Bob Eve Photo Oct 2015 1

A 360° view of your data isn’t a bonus. It’s a necessity. The world is changing, and data is becoming a key part of everything from ecommerce to government organisation.

Robert (Bob) Eve could see the direction that data use was heading in when he helped brand the Data Virtualisation market in 2007, to describe how businesses could see, access and exploit data commercially without becoming bogged down in the IT detail.

Here, Bob tells us why businesses should be getting excited about data virtualisation, how data will change the world – and why master data management is at the heart of it all.

What is data virtualisation?

Data virtualisation is a way for IT to make the complex simple. Every company has all these data siloes: databases, systems, cloud etc. All of that data is stored in different ways. That makes it difficult for businesses when they need that data. They need to go to each place and get it, understand how it’s stored and accessed, then figure out how to combine it.

What data virtualisation does is put a layer over the top that simplifies how that data is seen. It’s more business friendly. The complexity of IT gets hidden. People just see the nice, user-friendly data sets that they can use for reporting and analysis, and IT takes care of the rest.

What should businesses be most excited about with data virtualisation?

The most exciting thing is how it empowers people with the data they need.

These days we compete with our data. Think about engaging with customers, for example. If we can really understand our customers – what they bought, what the sales process was, what marketing was aimed at them, a real 360° view – we are well positioned to engage, delight and upsell.

But if you don’t have that info… well, don’t you hate it when you get offered something you already have? Or something you’ve already declined? It’s frustrating, it’s a poor customer experience and it’s a waste of your time and resources.

A lot of businesses are still struggling to use data to create true personalisation, rather than just adding, ‘Hi Bob’ to an email. Can data virtualisation help them overcome that challenge?

Yes, I think so. We see that a lot. You really want to have a 360° view of the customer, but the problem is that spread of data. What they bought in the past – that’s in your sales system. How they paid for it? That’s your accounting system. Previous service calls – they’re in your service system.

How do you pull all that together, so that at the next point of engagement you can tailor their experience? By bringing all of those threads together with data virtualisation, you can be more personalised and engaged, not just with marketing, or sales, but in every interaction.

Where does master data management and governance come into it?

Think about all of this data in all of these different systems from a practical standpoint. In one system, you have a Joe Bloggs. In another, a J D Bloggs. Somewhere else you have a Joseph Bloggs. How would you know they are all the same person in order to use that information?

This is where master data management comes in. You need to understand all those little pieces of the puzzle and master that ‘master data’: that one data truth.

Data virtualisation then reaches out across all those systems to combine knowledge around this new, singular identity – Joseph Bloggs – and bring together all the sales history, service history, account history etc. It goes out and grabs the detail – without needing a manual process.

You can then use that information to feed a point of sale in store, or inform the team at the call centre, or tailor your marketing. Once you’ve mastered that detail you can use it in so many ways.

How do you think data can – or is – changing the world?

Right now, the world is very disrupted. The way we live, work and socialise is in flux. Right now, we have to use data to help us understand our situation.

In the long term, this is going to force business transformation. New customer engagement models are developing. Once your customers have got used to shopping from home, how much of that revenue split is going to shift permanently?

And where you used to have charming store clerks who were highly skilled in helping your customers, how do you get that same personalised experience through your website, or a call centre? Maybe it’s a chat bot, maybe you still use that store clerk but, rather than standing in a store, they’re sitting out in Swindon providing a service remotely.

And how do you optimise your business for those new business models?

Data.

It’s going to be a time of adaption. The winners will adapt. The losers won’t.

To find out whether your enterprise data is ready to take on a full 360 ° view, book a consultation with Comma. We’ll talk you through the steps you need to take to get your data where it needs to be and how you can start seeing your data differently.