Customer Data


The Critical Quest for Customer Data Insight

On July 5, Pitney Bowes announced it had received acceptances for over 90 percent of the existing issued ordinary shares of Portrait Software, a leading provider of solutions that focus on enhancing customer relationship management systems and enabling clients to achieve improved customer retention and profitability.

The acquisition, valued at 44 million pounds (US$68.5 million) is now wholly unconditional. According to Aberdeen’s research, this acquisition comes at a time when organizations of all sizes and across all vertical segments are looking to utilize information and solutions that deliver intelligent customer interaction. And those that do are achieving superior performance gains in key customer measures.

Business Context

In June, Aberdeen surveyed 275 executives regarding their organizations’ marketing objectives through the first half of calendar 2011 (The 2011 Marketing Executive’s Agenda). The results were compelling: Marketers are focused on delivering a clear return from their investments. And to demonstrate strong program results, one area reigns supreme — accessing and understanding customer data. Failing to leverage customer experience data from the myriad sources including demand generation campaigns, social media efforts, Web interactions, and call centers will be the difference between success and failure.

Customer data is the common denominator driving the marketing agendas at top-performing companies. Of all potential customer touch-points available to an organization, these companies are focusing on particular areas and technology solutions to speed the provision of customer information that drive effectual agendas and create intelligent interactions.

Customers utilize a plethora of media to learn about, respond to and communicate with organizations. Insight into customer behavior and decision making is driving successful marketers’ fixation with utilizing customer data to build marketing plans that can deliver more effective marketing campaigns as well as evaluate program success and validate marketing ROI. According to data from Aberdeen’s October 2009 research study “Data Driven Marketing,” Best-In-Class organizations deliver markedly superior KPI results because they rely on and consume customer data at a significantly greater rate than Laggards.

While the reliance on customer data is a clear distinction among top-performing organizations, its importance is not missed by others. According to Aberdeen’s October 2009 research report “Offer Optimization: Using Customer Analytics to Improve Marketing Performance,” the top two planned capabilities to support database marketing activities were:

  1. a process for enhancing marketing analytics capabilities over time, and
  2. operations resources devoted to data-driven marketing improvement.

This rush toward the use of customer data is with good cause. In that same research on Offer Optimization, Best-in-Class organizations saw significant performance gains as compared to all other organizations.

Deeper Reach

The combination of Portrait Software’s customer intelligence solutions with the Pitney Bowes products around visualizing spatial data and understanding relationships between specific locations has the potential to provide companies with greater strategic business information about their customers to sharply improve interaction and communication. By merging customer location-based data with customer-centric information on historical interactions, companies can better understand clients’ needs, predict future behavior and address needs through timely messaging, offers and content. This merger is further enhanced by Pitney Bowes’ dominant position in multiple vertical industry segments across large and small organizations alike, providing Portrait Software far greater reach into new markets.

Of course, the true value of this acquisition is dependent on the ability of Pitney Bowes to integrate its Location Intelligence and GIS products into Portrait Software’s customer insight and intelligence software. The results achieved from this successful union should help Pitney Bowes expand its go-to-market position and fully realize its goal of allowing its customers to grow by improving interactions and communication with, as well as knowledge of, their own customers.

Chris Houpis is a senior research analyst in Aberdeen’s Marketing Strategy and Effectiveness Practice.

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