When Microsoft introduced its customer data platform last February the focus was on simply connecting silos of data to help customers get the data into the system, but as the pandemic has taken hold this year, customers need deeper insight into their customers and Microsoft has made some enhancements to the platform today.
James Phillips, president of Microsoft business applications says the goal of the platform is about understanding customers at a deeper level. “From that depth of understanding our customers can engage their customers through the entirety of the customer lifecycle,” Phillips told TechCrunch.
That could involve a variety of activities such personalizing offers, speaking to them in a way that they know their customers want to be spoken to, offering them new products and services that better meet their needs or supporting them better, he said.
He adds that COVID-19 has changed customer priorities and forced them to make adjustments to the way they do business and how they interact with customers. “As everything’s gone digital, the need to deeply understand your customer and to increase the efficacy of those engagements has really been heightened through this pandemic,” he said.
The company is announcing several new components to the customer data platform product to help customers build that understanding. The first is called Customer Engagement, which as the name implies takes all that data they’ve pushed to the CDP to help understand that customer better and deliver more meaningful interactions. That goes into preview today.
“Engagement Insights is about directly funneling web, mobile and connected product data back into Customer Insights to help continue to enrich that understanding of the customer in order to better serve them,” he said.
The next piece is about putting AI to work on all that data to allow marketers to make more educated predictions about the customers based on what they know about them. This takes advantage of Azure Synapse Analytics and provides a set of pre-built AI templates to help customers with elements like predicting customer churn, automating product recommendations and estimating customer lifetime value.
In addition, the company is offering a data governance product to help protect that data and it’s integrating with Microsoft Customer Voice, the company’s survey tool to give customers the ability to fill in the blanks in the data by asking the customers when all of the data doesn’t provide an answer.
Phillips says all of these capabilities are about helping customers to be more agile, so that as the world shifts, as it has so dramatically this year, businesses can be in a better position to react to those changes more quickly and meet the changing customer requirements.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft clearly isn’t alone in this type of offering, as every big company that sells marketing tools from Adobe to Salesforce to SAP is offering similar products for similar reasons.