THE SHIFT: The Customer Data We Need to Win


As a marketing professional, I believe the most critical part of my role is to bring the customer into the heart of the organization.

Not to build a brand. Not to research and segment a market. Not to create collateral, campaigns, or events.  Not to support sales drives.  All those activities are important – but they’re means to the end of understanding, responding to, and anticipating the customer’s need and wants.  The customer is the business’s key asset, and we marketers are accountable for it.

Lately, my friend and colleague Brian Miske has been writing about THE SHIFT  — the idea that evolving technology is constantly raising the bar of customer expectations.

Brian’s “shift” challenges marketers to raise their own bar – to understand more deeply, to be more agile, responsive and forward thinking in everything they do with and for the customer.

At the heart of this challenge is customer data in all its forms. The ability to interpret and create insights from customer data is fundamental to our future success as marketing professionals. The businesses we work for expect and demand this competency.

Personally, I’ve found customer data to be a bewildering subject. There’s so much information available, from so many sources, in so many formats, that extracting useful insights becomes a major challenge. All too often, in the interest of speed and simplicity I’ll make a decision based on a limited number of data points.

So in an effort to keep myself honest, I’ve developed this infographic:.


It presents a very simplified view of the universe of customer-centric data. The four quadrants — Demographic, Behavioural, Transactional, and Financial – serve to remind me of the data points that I need to examine when I’m fulfilling my customer-centred role.

In many cases we don’t have access to the right data from all four quadrants. Maybe our systems don’t collect it, or don’t talk to each other easily yet. Maybe we don’t have the budget to acquire the right information.

Nonetheless, it’s our job to bring customer data – however imperfect and incomplete – to our decisions. We need to look at the interactions between the four data quadrants and build customer insights and segments using them. Where the right customer data is not available, it’s our job to help influence a business case for investment.

It’s axiomatic: if “The Shift” brings customer to the centre of the business, success will come to those who can understand and apply customer data to their decisions.