On January 11, 2021, Informatica announced its Customer 360 SaaS solution for customer Master Data Management. Built on the Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services platform, Informatica’s Customer 360 solution provides data integration, data governance, data quality, reference data management, process orchestration, and master data management as an integrated SaaS (Software as a Service)-based solution.
It can be easy to take the marketing aspects of master data management solutions for granted, as every solution on the market focused on customer data seems to claim that they help to manage relationships, provide personalization, and support data privacy and compliance while supporting a single version of the truth. The similarity of these marketing positions provides confusion on how new offerings in the master data space differ. And the idea of providing a “single version of the truth” is becoming less relevant or useful in an era where data grows and changes faster than ever before and the need for relevant data based on a shared version of the truth becomes more important than simply having one monolithic and complete version of the truth documented and reified in a single master data repository.
Customer master data also provides challenges to companies as this data has to be considered in context of the expanded role that data now plays in defining the customer. In the Era of COVID, customer interactions and relationships have largely been driven by remote, online transactions as in-person shopping has been sharply curtailed by a combination of health concerns, regulations, and, in some cases, supply chain interruptions that have affected the availability of commodities and finished goods. In this context, customer data management plays an increasingly important role in driving customer relationships, not only by providing personalization of data but also in managing appropriate metadata to support the appropriate building of hierarchies and relationships. Both now and as we move past the current time of Coronavirus, companies must support the data-enabled customer and reduce barriers to commerce and purchasing.
In exploring the Informatica Customer 360 solution, Amalgam Insights found several compelling aspects that enterprise organizations should consider as they build out their customer master data and seek a solution to maintain data consistency across all applications.
First, Amalgam Insights considers the combination of data management, metadata management, and data cleansing capabilities in Customer 360 to be an important capability. Customer data is notorious for its ability to become dirty and inaccurate because it is linked to the characteristics of human lives: home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, purchase activities, and preferences, etc…
In this context, it is vital that a master data solution focused on customer data needs to support clean and relevant data and the business context provided with reference data and other relevant metadata. Rather than treat master data literally as a static and standalone data record, Customer 360 brings together the context and cleansing needed to maximize both the value and accuracy of master data.
Second, Customer 360’s use of artificial intelligence and machine learning will help businesses to maintain an accurate and shared version of the truth. AI is used in this solution to
- assist with data matching across data sets
- provide “smart” field governance to auto-correct data in master data fields with defined formats such as zip codes or country abbreviations
- use Random Forests to support active learning for blocking and matching
- support deep learning techniques for text matching and cleansing text that may be difficult to parse
Third, Informatica’s Customer 360 solution provides a strong foundation for application development based both on being built on a shared microservices architecture as well as investments in DevOps-friendly capabilities including metadata versioning supported by automated testing and defined DevOps pipelines. The ability to open up both the services available on the Customer 360 solution as well as the data to custom applications and integrations will help the data-driven business to make relevant data more accessible
The Customer 360 product also includes simplified consumption-based pricing, a different user interface designed for a more simple user experience, as well as improved integration capabilities including real-time, streaming, and batch functionality that reflects the changing nature of data. Amalgam Insights looks forward to seeing how a pay-as-you-go SaaS approach to Customer 360 is received, as this combination is relatively new in the world of master data management implementations that are often treated as massive CapEx projects.
Overall, Amalgam Insights sees Informatica’s Customer 360 as a valuable step forward for both the master data management and customer data markets.
This combined vision of providing consumption-based pricing, a contextual and intelligently augmented version of the truth, and a combination of data capabilities designed to maximize the accuracy of customer data within a modern UX is a compelling offering for organizations seeking a customer data management solution.
As a result, Amalgam Insights recommends Customer 360 for organizations interested in minimizing the amount of time spent in cleansing, fixing, and finding customer data while accelerating time-to-context. Organizations focused on progressing beyond standard non-AI-enabled data cleansing and governance processes are best positioned to maximize the value of this offering.