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The Single Customer View – Fact or Fiction?

Martin Doyle July 12th, 2011 Data Quality, Master Data Management

Well, the first problem is the definition of “Single Customer View” (SCV). In my opinion an active SCV certainly shouldn’t be considered a service, it’s a capability underpinned and delivered by technology.

A true SCV should be dynamic, so as any piece of data changes anywhere the business can see all data linked to the single customer instance they are interested in.

What data bureau appear to be selling is simply a deduped and merged file, which they are now labelling a single customer view; this is not a living and breathing representation of the data. It’s more akin to a company’s audited accounts which are only true at one specific point in time.

Furthermore, this typically only delivers name and address data, leaving important linked transactional data, product information, contact history etc. out of the equation.

Some might say it’s impossible to achieve the SCV. There’s no magic route to this utopian vision, but perhaps we should consider a few different approaches:

  • A centralised customer master database, linked to multiple disparate data sources. Only the master database is managed and updated, changes are propagated out to the other sources
  • A message based system where data changed in one system alerts all other systems which are then updated via a messaging protocol

The two approaches above are very costly and remind me of when the US Space mission spent millions of dollars to develop the space pen to write under zero gravity for their astronauts, whilst the Russian cosmonauts took a pencil!

At DQ Global® we believe we’ve got a very different approach to solving the SCV question which will be far less costly, involve less IT resources and fast to deploy…

  • An internet search engine like lookup, where data is left in their separate database silos and an interface used to intelligently search and link data across systems. The user can then dynamically view consolidated data in the form required for their specific use

There’s been plenty of discussion on SCV over the years. CRM promised to deliver this mythical vision, but the truth is that data is still dispersed in disparate silos across the organisation. The SCV is a constant challenge – and it goes far beyond assembling all a customer’s information in one location.


Written by Martin Doyle

Martin is CEO and founder of DQ Global, a Data Quality Software company based in the UK. With an engineering background, Martin previously ran a CRM Software business. He has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience over the years and has established himself as a Data Quality Improvement Evangelist and an industry expert.