The Intelligent Approach To Customer Intelligence

Dave Frankland [Posted by Dave Frankland]

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According to Amazon's former Chief Scientist, individuals will generate more data in 2009 than in the combined history of mankind. Think about the implications for your marketing and overall business. On the one hand, it is possible to know more about every prospect and customer, and to improve their customer experience based on what you know about them. On the other hand, it's very easy to drown in the exponentially growing stream of data. Customer Intelligence (CI) professionals sit at the nexus of this data explosion, while also dealing with tectonic shifts in customer behavior, and an increased demand for marketing accountability.

Although these changes generate plenty of anxiety for customer intelligence professionals, they should not be perceived as a threat. Forrester believes this is a time of tremendous opportunity—a call to arms for left-brain marketers across the globe.

In my latest research (featured this weekend by CRM Magazine) we demonstrate how Customer Intelligence is evolving from a tactical and functional role to the future command center for businesses. We identify three stages of CI maturity - from functional intelligence, to marketing intelligence, to strategic intelligence. Within the most advanced firms, the customer intelligence function has evolved into a strategic weapon that helps firms drive corporate strategy and create competitive advantage. These advanced firms use Customer Intelligence to go far beyond just improving campaign performance. They also use CI to improve customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction, as well as increase revenue, profitability, and customer value.


Given the strategic value of this role, we believe that the next generation CMO will come from the Customer Intelligence discipline. That’s not to say CMOs won't continue to care deeply about the brand, and the emotional connection that they create with their customers. But, as they struggle to engage with empowered, connected customers who have limited tolerance for marketing, firms will elevate CI within their organizations to influence mission critical business decisions with data-driven insights. These CMOs will help their organizations to focus on customer value, and use it as the connective tissue that causes all marketers and business units to pull in the same direction.

This report is intended to serve as a framework for turning customer data into smart business strategy. Over the next few months, Forrester’s CI research team will build on this research from a variety of angles. Next up is a self-test to help you understand your Customer Intelligence quotient and identify the key areas for investment and improvement. In the mean time, please join the conversation -- let us know what challenges you are struggling with as you seek to improve the sophistication of your CI organization, and where our research can help to make you more successful in your role.



re: The Intelligent Approach To Customer Intelligence

Dave,Excellent post. I wonder what methods are used to measure a "value of Customer Intelligence" by the companies that profess to do this kind of measurements. Can you point me to any source of such methodologies? My company focuses on Product Reputation analysis and I have attempted to formalize an approach to measurement of financial impact of it in I would love your opinion about my approach.

re: The Intelligent Approach To Customer Intelligence

Thanks Greg. We didn't ask about measurement methods in this particular study. While all of us on the CI team are focused on measurement and metrics, keep an eye on Julie Katz's research - Julie's primary research coverage area is marketing measurement.Cheers,Dave

re: The Intelligent Approach To Customer Intelligence

Great post Dave. I would like know how you this information/process will affect the culture of a company. Do you think companies will adopt a similar approach to hiring or promoting employees? Or do you think they will be able to utilize some of the information as influence points to their culture for a better connection with the market?~Mel

re: The Intelligent Approach To Customer Intelligence

Great post Dave. eMarketer recently posted research data supporting that a large percentage of consumers do NOT want to be targeted based on their clicking and buying behaviors. For many marketers, it's time to go back to the drawing board to design and strategize different approaches. We can always count on consumers to throw us curve balls, and it is up to us to understand them and learn what motivates them. The successful marketer will be the one who can stay ahead of the reactionary curve. Thanks for the info.

re: The Intelligent Approach To Customer Intelligence

Great post. With the data available today about our customers and the fact that they actively tell organizations their wants and needs through various channels leads me to believe data will further drive marketing and advertising decisions. Here is a blog post around thoughts of the Generation X CMO

re: The Intelligent Approach To Customer Intelligence

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re: The Intelligent Approach To Customer Intelligence

Many thanks for the comments folks.@Mel - Culture is a central tenet of Customer Intelligence. The opportunity for CI professionals is to become the customer advocate and drive the company's shift towards a customer-centric culture.@Scott - I agree. As so often, it comes down to relevance.

re: The Intelligent Approach To Customer Intelligence

David,Your findings provide outstanding insights of the value of intelligence. We have been working with marketers for several years in helping them use all their data to make it actionable intelligence, whether for increasing customer retention or driving new business. We often felt we were still in the early adoption phases of predictive analytics and now we can really see momentum shifting. We are sharing your information and the CRM article to demonstrate the value and trends.Thank you!Susan Cordts, President/CEOAdaptive Technologies,