When you’re at sea, you take navigation very seriously. The 360-degree arc of the compass is the tool by which you take a bearing and understand where you are going, especially when you’re out of sight of land. It’s a constant number that relates to the compass -- both the magnetic and gyroscopic compasses, if you’re on a ship.
It also refers to the way lookouts report the things they see -- always in relation to the ship, with the bow of the ship representing 0 degrees/360 degrees. Having a 360-degree view of what’s out at sea with you is critical to avoiding hazards, collisions and other unfortunate events.
In the context of CRM, that metaphor is frequently employed. Every vendor likes to claim that its application provides a 360-degree view of the customer, implying that no bit of customer information affecting selling, loyalty, support or marketing is not captured.
That metaphor is imperfect at best. And I’m not saying that because I spent six years at sea as a bosun’s mate.