Gaining a 360° View of Data Entities, with Ease
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Business analysts, data stewards, and other data stakeholders would dearly love to gain a 360° view of customers, products, assets, and other entities. With such a view, at any given time, it would be possible to know, for example, what products customers have purchased, which customers are part of the same household, which channels they purchased their products from, and, if they purchased physical products, if they also purchased extended warranties. A 360° view of the customer is needed not only to better understand buying behavior, but also to serve customers more effectively.

Distributed Data

Unfortunately, much of the data that makes up such a view is distributed across multiple different systems. Customer information is typically stored in customer relationship management (CRM) systems, while product information is often stored in product information management (PIM) systems. Yet another type of system might house all the transactions, and all of this data is often then sent to a data warehouse for analysis. 

In such an environment, data is highly distributed. And because of that, it is often highly duplicated, resulting in an inconsistent view of data entities. One system might have a record for “Ravi Shankar” while another might have a record for “R. Shankar.” They might both refer to the same person, but the system might not know that. To establish that the two records refer to the same person, companies need to establish master data records.

The Role of Master Data Management (MDM) Systems

Master data management (MDM) systems attempt to gain a single view by resolving duplicates and providing that universal or “golden view” of data entities. But MDM systems lack the extra contextual information, the transactions that are associated with the master data.

This extra information, stored in transactional systems, enables insight into such questions as how many products Ravi bought over the last year, how often he bought them, and in what quantities. To answer these questions, stakeholders need to take the master information from the MDM system, combine it with all the transactions across all the different other systems, and then provide a 360° view of that information to business users such as call-center application representatives.

The Logical Approach for a 360° view

Data virtualization is a technology that can do this. It can combine master information with transaction data from all the other different systems and provide that 360° view to the business users within their chosen application. This could be an online portal application or a desktop analytical application. Data virtualization subscribes to the principle of leaving the source data wherever it is and then bringing real-time views of the data together. In this sense, it adheres to a logical approach to integrating data rather than a physical one.

Data virtualization connects to the different systems and virtually integrates the information into a single view, a unified, 360° view, and adds the business definition, which is a semantic interpretation of that to the consumers within the applications. Data virtualization offers a very fast, easy way to bring the data together across different systems without having to move it anywhere.

In Good Company

Many companies use data virtualization to gain a 360° view of all the information they use; reach out to learn more.

Ravi Shankar