If youre one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world, who do you go to for help winning new SME business? Well, for Microsoft the answer was Acxiom, and their customer information management solution software as service (SAS).

For a company like Microsoft, with such a broad range of customers and a diverse product portfolio, looking at products and purchasing patterns across different channels from the customer’s perspective will help to identify further business opportunity, said Paul Turner, CEO, Acxiom Australia and New Zealand. This insight not only helps to maximise the value of current customer relationships but also enables the organisation to gain knowledge, and identify prospects with a greater likelihood of buying.

In 2006 Microsoft partnered with Acxiom on a customer information management project to initially provide a single view of existing customers, then identify prospects in the SME market. Those prospect names are being added to the newly designed, customer-centric database.

We needed to get to know our customers better and track our engagement with them more accurately,” said Ray Peer, manager of Microsoft Australia’s Data Management Organisation. To do so we had to increase the quality and completeness of our customer and partner data. Also, as the SME landscape changes more often than the larger enterprise market, keeping this data current was critical to ensuring effective campaign and sales execution.

Acxiom designed, and continues to provide, a customer information management solution as a service for Microsoft. The solution is tailor-made to support Microsoft’s account data management process, and can adapt to changes in the internal and external business environment. It also enables Microsoft to ensure ongoing adherence to stringent industry data standards.

The project has helped Microsoft to improve its sales performance while saving time in customer information management and reducing wastage in direct marketing campaigns, said Richard Harris, solution consultant, Acxiom Australia.

The service provided by Acxiom helps Microsoft to control the quality of customer information being captured within its sales and marketing source systems by validating the entry data against Acxiom data, prior to system entry. The resulting data quality and information enrichment program includes:

  • Single Customer View – this enables Microsoft to link business records across the multiple data sources that delivers an integrated customer view;
  • Market Segmentation – can identify specific customer groups for customer-centric target marketing;
  • Market Analysis – provides a complete, current and accurate reflection of the Australian business landscape and Microsoft’s place within it;
  • Data Quality Improvement – cleaning and de-duping existing Microsoft business customer and contact lists;
  • Data Standardisation – while maintaining the validity and integrity of customer information, new data is matched against Acxiom’s own data for cleansing, de-duplication and verification. Differences in the core account attribute data are then updated within Microsoft’s CRM system.

Although we at Microsoft could have built this solution ourselves, it made more sense for us to partner with Acxiom, said Peer. As the leaders in this field, Acxiom offers the required components of data, data services and the technical expertise to bring it all together as a single solution. Put simply, Acxiom makes our lives easier.

The Newshounds view?

Were all drowning in data, and if were really hoping to use the targeting potential of the online environment to increase sales and marketing efficiencies, then marketers need to be able to leverage the tremendous potential of all that data.