There is more to business data than just transactions and profit or loss tables, a combined view can expose far more. A single entity view captures a comprehensive view of information about customers, organisations, assets or even locations.

A Single Entity View (SEV) provides the benefits of a typical Single Customer View (SCV) - an aggregate, consistent and holistic representation of all data known by an organisation about its customer, but applied to entities of almost any type.

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Could that ‘new’ customer enquiry actually be from someone you have been dealing with for many years? Can you identify and manage repeat customers across multiple customer engagement channels? Have you been tasked with improving your organisation’s location awareness? Does the location of an office or retail outlet suit the demographics of your target market? These are just some of the questions that can be asked of a SEV.

The answer lies in enhancing and linking seemingly disconnected sources of information stored in various formats and potentially in multiple locations. The 360 degree view of suppliers , clients and other key relationships will help streamline business processes , drive insights and reduce inaccuracies.

A SEV can achieve this for any important concept in your business.

The need for a unified view, regardless of the entity

Single Customer View

A Single Customer View is about consolidating a consistent view of your customer, and your interactions with them.

For example, marketers are increasingly embracing multichannel customer engagement models as more consumers flock to social media sites to discuss, complain about and compliment your products and services. There is a need to keep up with your customers’ preferences, sentiment and brand engagement across social media platforms. Furthermore, customers expect uniform interactions with your company across all mediums, increasing the need to have a coordinated “omnichannel” strategy offering a seamless experience everywhere.

A Single Customer View can help provide information such as customer behaviour, patterns and preferences. This can be used to conduct predictive analysis to help drive future business strategies – from launching new product lines, seeking partnerships with advertisers and sponsors to increasing the revenue potential.

Single Organisation View

Understanding the relationships between people and organisations, as well as between multiple organisations is often required for a host of important business and analytical functions. As an example, distinguishing between coincidence and deliberate acts can be vital when assessing whether to prosecute for the breach of a law or whether to spend billions on mergers and acquisitions.

When investigating potentially fraudulent activities, a government grants management team may use a single organisation view to discover the combination of grants received by:

  • Various arms of a service provider organisation and its subsidiaries, and

  • Organisations which have the same or related directors and or beneficiaries, and

  • The beneficiaries themselves.

To understand these relationships, forensic data analysts need to identify patterns and correlations to indicate and describe interactions that may uncover potentially fraudulent activities.

Similarly, corporate investors, administrators and reporting or regulatory authorities may seek to form associations between entities to track and manage exchanges of information and related transactions. This may be for the purpose of producing consolidated reports, informing decision making and/or ensuring compliance with applicable laws and market expectations of an organisation’s behaviour. This can be achieved by analysing the communications that occur between the organisations that are of interest, as well as through the forensic analysis of existing financial, regulatory and/or publicly available information for those organisations. Much of this information may be unstructured in the form of letters, emails and social media sources, which, until recently, have been extremely difficult to scrutinise quickly and accurately.

Insights and sentiment can be derived using a Single Organisation View to assist investigations or support strategic decision making regarding interactions between various organisations.

Single Location View

Take the example of an electricity distribution network sub-station. Describing the attributes that comprise the underground, overhead, building and room assets within a sub-station, and relationships between those assets, can help an organisation better understand the value - strategic, financial and otherwise - of this location based entity. This can mean a reduction in the number of searches or lookups for individual assets across different repositories, a more complete and current view of those assets and more efficient maintenance, administration and service delivery. Additionally, the enhanced knowledge provided by a single location view can enable, quicker response times in cases of emergencies and improved health and safety while on-site.

The improved information view of an asset provided by a Single Location View can deliver the basis of informed decisions about planning for future projects.

Single Product View

Engaging with customers via many channels can bring about another requirement – to know what you’re selling across all these mediums. Describing a product for sale in store, online or by phone will mean consistent information about the product or service should be available across all channels. Offering products for sale across multiple channels also requires detailed inventory knowledge, further boosting the need to maintain one view of your product to avoid potential confusion.

Consistent ‘branding’ can be achieved with a Single Product View along with the ability to make informed decisions ranging from product line availability via certain channels to targeted marketing.

Start the Single Entity View journey

Before embarking on a single entity view project, the organisation needs to embrace the potential offered from consolidating its data in this way. In some cases changes may be required to the organisation’s culture for such consolidation to be effective. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Current state of affairs: A review of the quality of the data currently being captured and its fitness for purpose needs to be undertaken. There may be challenges integrating attributes of customer data from multiple sources if the underlying customer address is inaccurate, incomplete, in a non-standard structure or contains irrelevant information. Or, as a further example, if you are currently capturing their phone number in one system and a different set of attributes, such as their email address, in another

  • Sponsorship: A Single Entity View project has the potential to impact many arms of the business and as such, there needs to be buy in and leadership from senior management. Their input at important times of the process is necessary to successfully push for commitment and changes throughout the process.

  • Plan of action: Input from qualified and experienced practitioners will help simplify the multiple facets of developing a plan – including scope, technologies, resources, budget and processes.

  • Leverage benefits of tried and tested solutions: You shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Research solutions offered and similar problems solved by other organisations to gain an insight into what is available and can be integrated readily. There is a very good chance that an experienced practitioner has done this many times before.

Article written by Darren Wu.

Darren is a sales manager at Intech Solutions with over 15 years working with data, data systems and solving business issues.

For more information, call the Sales team today on 61 2 8305 2100 or email sales and let us help you form a single view of your entities of interest.