Powering the Customer Journey with Data at Enterprise Scale

While most companies understand how critical it is to focus on customer experience and the role that data plays in doing so, marketers still struggle to gain a unified understanding of their customer

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While most companies understand how critical it is to focus on customer experience and the role that data plays in doing so, marketers still struggle to gain a unified understanding of their customer, with 43% reporting a fragmented approach to the integration between marketing and data systems.

Improved partnership across the enterprise and close collaboration with IT can help brands make more informed and actionable decisions—fast.

But, the ugly truth is that most departments across the enterprise collect data, run analyses, and report findings very differently. Sales, marketing, product engineering, and support teams all have different views of the customer, different requirements, and different practices. Nuances in the calculations, freshness of data and inconsistent taxonomy create confusion as numbers are reported up the chain.

We've experienced this problem firsthand at Adobe. In the summer of 2016, we had hundreds of key performance indicators (KPIs) we were using to measure the health of the business. In addition to the sheer quantity they lacked the standardization and consistency to be used across the enterprise. Evaluating customer-facing campaigns could take up to four weeks, and we struggled to agree on a single interpretation of the data across organizations.

As a result, our IT department partnered with our go-to-market (GTM) and Marketing teams to develop a new Data-Driven Operating Model—or what we call “DDOM”—for our Creative Cloud business. DDOM is Adobe’s playbook for deriving and acting on data-driven insights across the customer journey. While initially specific to Adobe, our model offers best practices to any brand or business dealing with similar challenges in fragmentation.

“We had long been a data-driven marketing organization, but it was only through this cross-organizational partnership with IT and the development of DDOM that we were really able to move from data to actionable customer insights. Ultimately, this has enabled us to deliver better customer experiences at every stage of their journey,” said Alex Amado, VP of experience marketing at Adobe.

Here are several key learnings from using our data and systems more effectively across the enterprise:

Align KPIs before you align your data systems
DDOM began as an IT-focused project to consolidate multiple data silos across the organization into a single actionable view with strong data governance. We quickly found that goal was far too broad and needed much clearer business drivers and use cases to narrow the scope to a more attainable minimum viable product (MVP). Once we demonstrated success from the initial focused implementation we were able to quickly iterate and expand the scope of the underlying data supporting DDOM across every organization supporting our creative cloud business. We did this by focusing on the customer and customer journeys.

Businesses need to understand the customer journey and create simple, accurate, and actionable KPIs. In our case, we started with the key stages of our customer journey—discover, try, buy, use, and renew. We identified VP-level owners for each of these stages to ensure accountability and alignment. Each owner was responsible for identifying the KPIs they needed to run the business, and every metric required approval from the whole DDOM leadership team.

In the end, we were able to shift from tracking hundreds of disparate and inconsistent KPIs, to under 40 with the key drivers being closer to 15—all focused on the key stages of our customer journey—with metrics like marketing spend, web traffic, conversion rates, monthly active use, renewal rates, and more. 

Create a governed single source of truth for business and customer data
With the correct KPIs identified, we needed a way to reliably bring this data together to form a robust view of both our customers and resulting business performance. Concurrently, we infused an adaptive data governance approach that assigned stewards for each metric and supporting data attributes – all with a clear focus on the end deliverable in order to have data governance support and enable DDOM, instead of impeding it.

Today, we use DDOM as a company library of unified data insights, where key stakeholders can check out standardized data and use it to target specific steps in the customer journey. Marketers can see which campaigns are driving customer renewals and retention while data scientists across the organization can build on top of a unified, governed data set to create their own custom reports, algorithms and predictive insights. Marketers, product teams and customer facing organizations can also leverage this trusted data to deliver powerful personalized experiences to our customers in real-time.

Insights that used to require weeks of data wrangling and analysis now take just seconds and are a few clicks to reach. It sounds simple, but behind the scenes the data infrastructure for DDOM is powered by a unified data architecture that stitches data together at the lowest granular level across the customer journey. DDOM is unique due to the breadth of supported organizations across the enterprise as well as the raw scale of data being processed to support a high growth business.

Acting on data requires new business practices

Organizations need to develop new roles and processes to establish a cadence of KPI ownership and reporting to facilitate a common understanding of data and how to effectively take action.  At Adobe, we’ve developed a rhythm of weekly meetings, where owners for each stage of the customer journey can make decisions and drive action, with expectations of seeing results the following week. The customer journey steps have literally become part of the company vocabulary. 

Additionally, the leadership team has assigned internal data champions across every key organization—IT, marketing, finance, product engineering and more—which enables new data insights to be communicated quickly and acted upon throughout the organization. 

Getting it right results in real business impact
The power of the DDOM model lies not only in real-time visibility into data, but in the insights our team is able to derive across stages of the journey. We can see how our KPIs move over time in relation to one another, and where that results in real business impact.

For any brand or business focused on improving customer experiences, the journey begins and ends with data. And getting the most out of your data requires strong collaboration between IT and other business functions. From sales, to marketing, to product engineering and support—everyone benefits from a unified, actionable view of the data and key indicators that power the customer journey.

More information about how Adobe drives its own transformation with DDOM can be found here.

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