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Big Data

Image – KamiPhuc, Flickr (CC license)

Data evangelists will tell you that every aspect of your customer’s life is useful to you, providing endless insights, but that’s not always true.

Refining your metrics according to what’s relevant to your business requirements will mean that you can cherry pick the right data, preventing you from having to manage the storage and accessibility of cumbersome data quantities.

Active and passive data

In financial services, there’s always a need to have a significant database built around active data, or information the customer has supplied, such as their personal information: identity verification details, address, contact information and account details. Those are essential in primary interactions to ensure the integrity of the interaction and the security of the customers’ accounts. That data must be checked and updated to ensure that the information is up to date.

Passive data can be obtained through the customers’ activities, and this is where the division of importance may come in. Do you need to store absolutely every bit of activity as data from the time the customer first engaged with your company, or can you refine it according to relevance?

For example, data may come from a customer enquiry or a visit to your website ten years ago. That’s a lifetime in terms of your customers’ needs from your business. They may have changed employment, married, divorced, had children, been retrenched, inherited money, bought a house or car – any number of life-changing events. Besides that, they are, statistically likely to have changed contact details and their address during the period. Essentially, you’re speaking to a different customer while you rely on obsolete data.

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