Client Stories

Electronics Manufacturer

Electronics Manufacturer

Today’s companies are doing business in the midst of a data explosion. As they collect and store an ever-growing amount of this data, the pressing question becomes how to make use of this data in a way that provides tangible value to the business.
A large electronics manufacturing corporation had a vision for how they could be using customer data to grow sales, improve customer relationships, and enhance the performance of their products. But before they could put their data to work, they realized they needed to reconcile conflicting records across their various systems.

Multiple Systems and Conflicting Records

The problem this company faced was a classic Master Data Management (MDM) issue. The Global Applications Manager in charge of developing a solution describes the situation they found themselves in. “Our end-consumers come to us through various channels,” he says, “whether it is by walking into a retail store, researching and buying online, or by dialing into one of our call centers for product support.”
“We use SAP as our single back-end fulfillment platform,” the manager continues, “and each of our customer-facing channels uses a different system. Each one of these systems had its own repository which then synced back into SAP, but since the data was coming from different data models with different attributes, SAP was unable to tell which customer records were duplicates.”
As a result, the company had many duplicate records in their system. “Since we were managing every record as an individual customer,” the manager explains, “a single person who interacted with us once via the retail store and then once via a call center would have two different records in our system. And these records would have different attributes depending on which system’s data you were looking at.”
As the company sought to improve the way they interacted with their customers, this data issue presented significant challenges. “If someone came into one of our sales channels
to make a repeat transaction,” the manager says, “that particular sales channel might not even know the person was already an existing customer. Maybe they called into the call center for help with their previous purchase, but at no point in time would we know that this is the same person who just showed up at our retail store. This left us oblivious to the needs of that customer.”
The manager describes the impact this situation had on their business. “The fact that we didn’t have a 360-degree view of our customers and their interactions was creating inconsistencies in the customer experience that we deliver across those channels. We couldn’t easily exchange a product if the customer bought it through one channel and then wanted to exchange it through another channel.”
“Online shopping was a totally different experience than if someone went into one of our branded retail stores, which was in turn different than if they went into an independent retailer. The same person could have completely different impressions of our company and our products depending on the channel they interacted with.”
“And finally,” he says, “we couldn’t serve returning shoppers as though they were repeat customers. We would consider them to be a new customer every time which meant we lost opportunities to upsell, cross-sell, or simply provide enhanced customer service.”

A New Initiative for MDM

The global applications manager says his company knew they needed an MDM solution to help move them forward. “Our ERP platform had great functionality for its specific purpose,” he says. “SAP managed very well for order fulfillment and all of our accounting, but it did not to a great job at establishing a single, golden record for a customer and their associated transactions. It simply isn’t capable of doing the data matching, merging, and consolidation that a true MDM product can offer.”
“We took a first pass at implementing MDM nearly six years ago,” he continues. “We went through an evaluation exercise and determined that Siebel, our call center application, should be the system of record for customer data.”
“This worked for a while,” he says, “but over time it was unable to take in all the data coming from other channels while still performing its own duties. We realized that repurposing a CRM tool into an MDM solution was not really a scalable answer to our problem.”
“So we set out to build and implement a true MDM capability,” the manager says. “We wanted to build something foundational for the whole company. We needed a central repository for cleansed customer data where we can be confident we are storing the best single version of truth for any given customer.”
“We wanted something very robust that would also be easy to operate,” he says. “We needed a solution that we could leverage to build true governance around the customer data, but we also had the core guiding principle that a business person should be able to use the tool as effectively as the IT person supporting it.”
The company reached out to both Gartner and Forrester Research to better understand the MDM market. “Based on their recommendations we evaluated a handful of solutions,” the manager says. “Informatica was under review, as well as SAP’s MDM solution and another startup similar to Semarchy. After our preliminary evaluation we shortlisted Semarchy and one other platform, and we initiated a pilot project to evaluate these top two providers.”
During the pilot, the company had a list of criteria they were evaluating. “We wanted to have confidence in the architecture of both the databases and the application itself,” the manager says. “We cared about API extensibility and how the platform interacts with applications outside itself. We were interested in the product maturity itself, and what the vision for the future product roadmap was. And of course, cost and time-to-value were both a consideration.”
The manager says the results from their pilot evaluation were very clear. “We had seven or eight key parameters,” he says, “and Semarchy scored better than the direct competition on nearly all of them.” The company moved forward to implement Semarchy, and was able to leverage the components built during the pilot.
“We reused some of what we had built in the pilot,” the manager says, “and this enhanced our speed to production. Part of the cost parameter we evaluated included how flexible and extensible the solution was, so the flexibility played a key part in being able to configure things so quickly.”
“Semarchy provided a very quick time-to-value for us. In the span of three months, we completed our investigations, conducted a pilot, and chose Semarchy. It was then just another couple months with the help of an integration partner to implement our complete MDM solution.”
The company deployed Semarchy on the cloud-based Amazon Web Services (AWS), and the manager says this helped speed the implementation process. “This was our first AWS deployment,” he says, “and it was much faster than the time we needed to get the Siebel MDM solution going six years ago. That was a CRM application and it took us months and months to get the platform built and our data in place.”

Real Results with Semarchy

With their new Semarchy MDM tool in place, the electronics company is now seeing the results they hoped for. “We wanted this foundational capability for the business,” the manager explains, “and now we have it. Our system works in real-time to capture information from all our sales channel applications, and we are achieving the data deduplication and consolidation that MDM should provide.”
“We can precisely tell today that we have one version of data for our customers,” he says, “and we really like what we see from a technical standpoint on the backend. We’re glad to have the scalability and elasticity that hosting on Amazon gives us.”
“One of the things we specifically asked Semarchy to design for us was the ability to manage the combination of our customer data and the associated transactions for that customer. This gives us that 360-degree view of how a customer is interacting with our global company with respect to marketing, sales, and service.”
The manager says he has received very positive feedback from the sales and service teams regarding this global customer view. “People who deal with the service calls can now use the customer data through their call center application in real time. They are able to talk to a customer in a much more meaningful way, and they can have a greater sensitivity to the customer’s history of interactions with us. It has been a great experience for the call center agents as well as for the customers they are assisting. We spend less time on the phone with better closure rates overall.”
The manager says usability for the business has also been a strong point of Semarchy’s platform. “Usability is great,” he says. “Our marketing team uses the tool extensively, and they are now building a marketing data warehouse that sources its information directly from the MDM implementation.”
Now that the company has their foundational MDM capability, the manager says the next step is to continue rolling out usage across the business. “Going forward, we’re excited to have more than just marketing and the call centers using the data. Over time we expect to see more and more of the organization using the data and the tool. Semarchy has given us the ability to leverage our data and move our company forward.”

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