Modern customer engagement requires data technology

Big data tools such as Hadoop and data virtualization are essential for customer management as businesses move toward providing more individualized experiences, according to Forrester Research. In a recent column for CIO Journal, Forrester analysts Noel Yuhanna and Mike Gualtieri explained that organizations need a holistic technology approach that includes elements such as big data, predictive analytics and data virtualization.

"You must consider every shred of customer data available for analysis, as it may contain gems that you can use to individualize experiences," they wrote. "Traditional data management solutions and approaches have difficulty consolidating and processing the array of large and unstructured  data sets that defines big data. To support a customer big data platform, you need new technologies and architectures, including Hadoop, NoSQL databases, advanced enterprise data warehouses, and cloud analytic platforms."

Not only will organizations need to leverage customer information to gain better insight into how consumers are behaving, they will need to use analytics tools to build predictive models, Yuhanna and Gualtieri wrote. With machine-learning algorithms and larger databases, these models are improving.

Another important technology for improving analytics efforts is data virtualization, which enables organizations to access information as a single stream and break down silos, the analysts added. Through integration with Hadoop and NoSQL tools such as Hadoop HBase, data virtualization technologies can fit smoothly into organizations' toolset.

Why big data technology matters
These technologies are essential because organizations are increasingly required to individually cater to customers, according to Forrester. Managing the customer experience has become a top business priority, Forrester analyst William Band noted in a recent KMWorld article. With fierce competition and tough economic conditions, organizations need to push their customer relationship management (CRM) approach beyond using simple CRM software tools.

As consumers interact with brands across multiple channels, organizations need to draw on data gathered throughout the customer experience ecosystem, he wrote. With tools such as Hadoop, companies can draw on sources such as social media and turn unstructured data into actionable insights.

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