Multinational organizations often confront ambitious proposals for global CRM rollouts that promise to power their marketing ecosystems. These proposals are typically rebuffed by difficult questions around ROI or are prematurely terminated owing to reactive corrections of marketing strategies.

Others, that manage to clear the budget approval and allocation viability gates falter in selling their global vision to their local counterparts. The few who hit the finishing line often struggle to assimilate the massive amounts of consumer data and its implications. These organizations cave in under a self-fulfilling prophecy of “big data cannot be tamed.”

The few who excel in justifying their investments have probably paid close attention to the following consideration in their CRM strategies: Is a “Single Consumer View” your holy grail?

Actions Speak Loudly, But 

Every marketing organization aspires to have a single view of their consumer -- to track interactions across channels, identify behavior patterns and build correlations to influence multichannel strategies. “The insights that every tracked consumer engagement can provide, is like gold-dust,” they claim.

This carries an implicit assumption that all consumer-led interactions -- voluntary or involuntary -- have a strong bearing on their purchase behavior. Given that consumers themselves are unaware of their numerous engagements with brands and their touchpoints, it's safe to say this assumption is false. In addition, consumers often vacillate at all points in the fabled purchase cycle, and interpretation of this behavior at face value leads to contradictory insights.

How Big is Your Data vs. How's Your Big Data

Do the consumer interactions across different channels contribute equal value to different organizations? Not necessarily: it depends on the nature of the channel and the nature of the organization. For a car manufacturer, an engagement through a contest on a social network carries a completely different value to that from a virtual product inspection on the website. A cosmetic brand could possibly leverage much more than a dairy company from an online product survey.

Are organizations equipped to attribute the right value of engagement across the right channels relevant to their business? While the nature of splicing and dicing consumer data is thoroughly scientific, the answer to that question is a prerequisite that requires subjective judgment backed by a hint of revisionism.

So where does this leave the dream of organizations realizing the single consumer view? The earlier that organizations can arrive at this consumer view that could optimize their investment, the more equipped they will be to navigate the CRM minefield.

Title image by Kerem Tapani Gültekin (Flickr) via a CC BY-ND 2.0 license