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Managing data for a single customer view

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Companies need to examine whether they are capitalising on the technology at their disposal to gain a single customer view or if they are missing out on key opportunities, writes PETR HAVLIK, MD of CyberPro Consulting.

Master Data Management (MDM) has a critical role to play for companies looking to gain a single view of a customer. With the New Year well underway, organisations need to start examining whether they are effectively capitalising on the technology at their disposal to achieve this view – or whether are they missing out on key opportunities.

According to a survey undertaken by Gartner, 89 of respondents believed that customer experience will be a primary basis for competition by 2016. Well its 2016 now, so businesses need to pay attention to their customer’s needs if they want to remain competitive – and a good place to start is through MDM – as MDM provides a common language to all the data that a business deals with.

So what does this mean?  Well, firstly, MDM is very business-focused; as opposed to a pure technology-driven approach.

Previously larger companies have struggled with silos of data that exist within the organisation, as it becomes very difficult to consolidate data, especially when divisions inside the business have different approaches around data management. So this meant that in the past, companies relied on customer relationship management to try gain a consolidated view of their customers. However, today a more effective approach is to examine a dedicated MDM strategy that seeks to combine data quality and matching, as well as integration into the source system – all strung together with a golden thread that will unify all information inside the organisation.

Ultimately, it boils down to gaining an understanding of a customer – to present data into a business format, one that actually works for the organisation. The present reality that exists, is that if you phone your bank, for example, many will not have a common view of you, as a customer. So the credit card division might have one view of you, while the home loan department another – which can cause frustration and wasted time.

The good news, however, is that the move to embracing this single view of the customer started in earnest for most large enterprises around five years ago. Unfortunately, many organisations are still struggling to fully realise the value of these projects.

Which leads to my point on MDM, as it can offer a consolidated report of a customer’s needs to a business all while, allowing the organisation to cross-sell and upsell tailored solutions to a customer – which can be very valuable to an organisations ongoing growth and ability to remain sustainable in a very competitive marketplace.

However, like all solutions, to capitalise on its benefits correctly, companies need to understand the data they actually have. This means ensuring data is kept clean and up-to-date, as well as keeping data synchronised across all divisions. Traditionally, this had to be done with a lot of custom software development and human intervention, but thanks to MDM, it can now be automated, although it still requires a substantial commitment to get right.

Of course, if you want MDM to work effectively, the data quality has to be there, given that MDM strives to match all the data in the organisation and define a golden record (which is one master data set of a customer, supplier, and so on).

So, while MDM can deliver value, the value is underpinned by its ability to understand a customer and the relationship that person actually has with the company. This means that in 2016, where customer understanding and value is a priority for many organisations – MDM can provide the organisation with the ideal way to get ahead – so what are you waiting for?

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Small South African town goes smartphone-only

Vodacom partners with farming business to upgrade all residents of Wakkerstroom from 2G devices to smartphones

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All residents of the small town of Wakkerstroom, which straddles Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces, have had their 2G feature phones upgraded to 3G devices.

The initiative is a result of Vodacom partnering with BPG Langfontein, a farming business that employs the majority of the people living in Wakkerstroom. It is now the first smartphone-only town in South Africa. This is a model the network provider says it hopes to replicate across the country as part of its mission to connect people who live in deep rural areas and are still dependent on 2G networks.

Wakkerstroom, is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.  

“There are growing expectations for big corporates the size of Vodacom to serve a social purpose, and for us to use our resources and core capabilities to make a significant contribution in transforming the lives of ordinary people,” says Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga. “We are helping to remove communication barriers, so that citizens in the area can be part of the digital revolution and reap the associated benefits. By moving the more than 1400 farm workers from 2G to 3G devices, this will also free much needed spectrum and this spectrum can be re-farmed to provide for faster networks such as 3G and 4G.

“Crucially, the move opens a new world of connectivity for farm workers in Wakkerstroom. As a result, most people in the area will now be able to use the Vodacom network to connect on the net and access online government services, eHealth services such as Mum&Baby and eCommerce. Learners can now surf the internet for the first time and access Vodacom’s eSchool free of charge and those who are actively looking for jobs can start using their smartphones and tablets to apply for jobs over the internet on Vodacom’s zero-rated career sites. This will be key for driving growth to the benefit of people living in this area.”

Vodacom has already deployed 4G base stations in Wakkestroom as part of this initiative.

For the next phase of this project, says Vodacom, it is going to educate the farm workers about data and the benefits of the Internet. Vodacom will also look at various ways in which it can help empower members of this community in areas of education, gender-based violence and health.

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10 more African countries join Facebook fact-checking

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Facebook today announced the expansion of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme to 10 additional African countries, which now join  Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal in the project,

In partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the France 24 Observers, Pesa Check and Dubawa, this programme forms part of its work in helping assess the accuracy and quality of news people find on Facebook, whilst reducing the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Working with a network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP, Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through the France 24 Observers and AFP, Guinea Conakry through the France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa.

Feedback from the Facebook community is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows firsthand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme. Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue. We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programmes we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook. While we’ve made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news.”

When third-party fact-checkers fact-check a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Providing fact-checking in English and French across eight countries, Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said: “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation.”

Eric Mugendi, Managing Editor from Pesa Check who will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English added: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. Social media is often the primary access to digital content or the ‘Internet’ for many Africans. They shape our perceptions of the world, our public discourse, and how we interact with public figures. This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm. The project helps us respond more quickly and directly. We’re seeing real positive results in our interactions with both publishers and the public itself. The project also helps our fact-checks reach a far larger audience than we would otherwise. This has helped us better understand the information vacuum and other viral dynamics that drive the spread of false information in Africa. Our growing impact is a small but tangible contribution to better informed societies in Africa.”

Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) said: “Dubawa is excited to be in Ghana where the misinformation and disinformation have become widespread as a result of technological advancement and increasing internet penetration. Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”

Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “Our African users are constantly sending us questionable images and messages they’ve received via social media, asking us ‘Is this true? Can you check it?’ It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”

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