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The Tragic Downside of Customer Information Management

Micro Focus Frequent Contributor
Micro Focus Frequent Contributor
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Many of you may have heard the term Customer Information Management and may be somewhat familiar. It has to do with collecting all of your disparate, often-siloed, customer-identifiable data across your enterprise systems, cleaning it up and making use of it more appropriately in applications such as Customer-relationship management (CRM). The upside is being able to better market to those customers with clearer visibility.

The Tragic Downside of Customer Information Management.pngCertainly with a more complete set of customer records, you’re better able to profile customer accounts and reach new buyers, for starters. A diligent approach to Customer Information Management (CIM) may be your gateway to improved data analytics on your customer base, uncovering new opportunities, cross-selling or offering new products and services. The upside is clear, but is there a downside?

Yes, there is, and I’m here to rain on your parade! (But also provide hope). Aggregating a clean set of customer data that’s gone through the data hygiene ringer to produce a highly-valuable body of information also means you’ve now increased the value of your crown jewels, your #1 asset. Congratulations! But not only is this asset your key to unlocking new business opportunities, it’s also the #1 risk target for abuse and attack. Just consider a case in point—the Equifax breach. Over 140 million US consumer records. Names, addresses, social security numbers, and credit card numbers from hundreds of thousands. Extremely valuable to Equifax and also devastating to have security breached.

So while there’s certainly a risk to getting ones customer data in tip-top order, it’s hard to argue that the business benefit isn’t worthwhile. This does create a dilemma, however. The more we groom our customer data, the more value we can create, the more insights we can derive, but the more attack-worthy it becomes.

Now for the hope bit…

But I did claim there’s a happy ending to this story and like all rainy parades, we have our umbrellas too. The same tools that can be used to discover, classify and disposition data for Customer Information Management purposes are also the pre-requisite tools that can prepare it for protection, too. Micro Focus offers a comprehensive data governance suite—Secure Content Management—that can find, classify and disposition both structured and unstructured data. Understanding what’s valuable in customer information is not only a first step for improving its management, it’s also a first step for applying data protection. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too!

And since I haven’t exhausted all metaphors yet, let’s talk further about killing two birds with one stone, since bird killing makes for great fried chicken. What if we can prepare a clean set of customer data for our CRM systems using Secure Content Management, then disposition that personal information by applying technologies such as Voltage format-preserving encryption?

Voltage SecureData operates with surgical-like precision at a data field level to protect that data, as it’s moving in and out of applications, such as your CRM system. Voltage can integrate directly with applications via traditional APIs, but also can deploy transparently for Web-based solutions using SecureData Sentry, such as with Salesforce. It operates much like a CASB approach, but on steroids, since format-preserving encryption is applied to enable advanced data masking techniques not typically found with traditional encryption. Data remains usable and open for business for authorized users and applications, with no changes to underlying schemas.

You signed up for CIM, but you got data privacy as a benefit

There’s little doubt that cleaning up your customer data can place it in a more valuable condition for applications such as CRM. So while you’re at it, it makes sense to protect what matters most while you’re there. Your customer data is your crown jewels, and applying our security, risk and governance portfolio can not only accelerate business value creation, but protect those assets by helping to enable the right applications and users have safe access.

Learn more about the Security, Risk and Governance portfolio on your road to improving Customer Information Management by visiting us here and starting your discussion.

About the Author
Data Security (Voltage) and SOC (ArcSight) Solutions. Encryption and key management, data privacy, security operations and general security topics.
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