Creating data-driven Customer Experiences with Microsoft

Beth Adams

By Beth Adams, Managing Director of Marketing Technology at VMLY&R

Through my years as a marketer and marketing technologist, I have always been frustrated by the difficulty of making data actionable. I was educated to be data-driven and to calculate the ROI of my decisions, but getting the right inputs (or even capturing them) and getting them in the right place for analysis always seemed to be so much harder than it should be. If you can’t even bring the data together for analysis, forget about using it to actually trigger or drive customer experiences. I was always left wondering: Is it this hard for everyone? How do the big enterprises do it? Surely, they have it figured out. Well, now, through my years of consulting, I know that it’s a struggle for businesses of every size, and that data-driven customer experiences are often pieced together on a project-by-project basis with a lot of human effort, and sometimes maybe even duct tape and twine.

As I’ve watched the expansion, and retraction (and expansion again), of the martech landscape, I’ve seen many try to solve for intelligent data-driven marketing, or what should arguably be considered just good customer experience. There have been numerous spins on where the crux of the problem lies and what will be that final unlock — CRM, marketing automation, middleware, creative production and workflow management, and now CDP. But really, the solve isn’t going to be in any one piece of technology. It’s going to be through integrating human and machine, art and science. Within VMLY&R, we often use a framework called the “CX stack” to describe this intersection and required integration. Meaningful engagement comes when our experiences uniquely solve human needs and are delivered in the right context (and at scale) by our platforms.

The recent announcement from Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing about the addition of customer journey orchestration is extremely interesting. To me, journey orchestration is the unifying element in the middle of our CX stack, allowing for that experience activation against customer context. Microsoft already owned most, if not all, of the platforms piece of the CX stack, including the foundational CDP element in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. Adding customer journey orchestration on top of this unified view of the customer, Microsoft can now undoubtedly offer the most comprehensive, and competitive, set of solutions to power the growing CX expectations of today’s consumers. Microsoft will have significant advantages to master the historical challenges of data integration. Just imagine if you could easily tap into the treasure trove of data both within your CRM and ERP to drive customer experiences — oh, the opportunities!

The added opportunities with AI and ML on Azure could be extremely interesting, not only for advanced analytics and segmentation, but for solving continually perplexing problems like dynamic experience production at scale. Imagine if you could confidently unleash ML-driven personalization without worrying about experience integrity due to advanced image recognition and NLP in the production/assembly cycle. All of this positions Microsoft to support CX in unique ways not yet touched by any other vendor. Look toward its upcoming Microsoft Business Applications Summit to learn more. I, for one, will be watching very closely.