EAI means linking all your databases about customers, and about sales, and about suppliers, and about prospects, so you can get more knowledge from them.
The posting lists 7 ways to "unfreeze" EAI experts, getting them out of their lethergy of "integration good" and focused instead on the needs of their corporate customers.
I have one line that I would ask those customers which might unfreeze them from dependence on EAI and corporate database technology entirely.
What are you doing with the data you have?
Just like the government, most big companies are compiling and integrating huge databases but getting absolutely no real knowledge out of them. Knowledge consists of things you can do that will help your own customers, whoever they are.
Questions like, how to sell more, how to get more sales out of the customers I have, how to get more customers, how to serve customers better — you know, stuff that relates to what your company is supposed to be doing.
I will illustrate this point with a story of two companies I know well here in Atlanta, the supermarkets Publix and Kroger.
Publix has a fairly simple database, their receipts. They know what’s on their check-out tapes. They know where they sell what, which tells them when to order more. It’s not very sophisticated, by 21st century standards.
- Kroger has a very complex database, thanks to their "Kroger Plus" shopping card. They not only know what’s on the check-out tapes, but who bought it, how far they drove, and what other Kroger market that customer goes to. They can even compile a dossier on these customers that will identify their age, sex, and personal habits.
So who’s smarter about computing? Publix. They’re smarter because they use the knowledge they have to serve customers better. Their stores are different, based on what’s selling in that neighborhood. A store in my part of Southeast Atlanta has a big deli counter, lots of smoked pork, a very big snack aisle, and local produce in-season. There’s very little Mexican food, or Chinese food, and no sushi. They tried it, it didn’t sell.
Kroger stores, on the other hand, are exactly the same wherever you go. They have the same merchandise in the same quantities along the same aisles. The only differences are the size of the store, the age of the store, the ceiling height — these determine how extravagant the lay-out can be. Newer stores have a sort of warehouse look, with some sections set-off into cross-aisles, and sound effects like mooing cows near the milk and rain sounds by the (overwashed) greens.
What is Kroger doing with all this extra data on customers? Nothing I can see. Maybe they’re getting loyalty from the discounts, but they’re not using their data to serve those customers better. Maybe they think they’re linking the addresses and learn where to site new stores. But they’re already everywhere. Publix, on the other hand, is squeezing value from all the data they have, serving their customers better, and (this is important) gaining higher margins.
The purpose of a corporate database is to serve your customers better. It’s not to keep your computer people employed. It’s not to spy on your customers, but to serve them. If you’re not doing that, you are wasting your money.