Everything You Need To Know About Dynamics 365 Customer Insights

This blog post will discuss the downfalls within decentralized data, as well as an overall view on Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. 

Paige Straky

Paige Straky

Introduction

In this day and age, we are all aware that centralized data is the lifeblood of successful marketing. As technology has modernized, data has pivoted to helping companies find their customers, running efficient marketing campaigns, holistically understanding customer feedback and usage, and ultimately streamlining marketing operations. For businesses doing both B2C and B2B, their next way of digital transformation is dependent on their ability to create seamlessly integrated individual customer journeys that leverage feedback from those interactions to continuously evolve their marketing. By optimizing the customer journey, the business is in turn optimizing their customer acquisition and retention.

With this notion in mind, Chief Marketing Officers (CMO), Marketing Directors, Chief Data Offers (CDOs), and the like have become customer experience champions constantly searching for a way to better analyze data in near real time and activate it to their business’ advantage. In this blog post, we will be providing an all-encompassing rundown of the pitfalls that come with decentralized data, how businesses can eliminate data siloes, and how customer experience champions can generate valuable customer insights using an ecosystem of data with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. 

Existing Challenges With Decentralized Data

 In today’s business world, data exists everywhere. In fact, if you think of the very business you work, I’m sure you can imagine the various datatypes scattered across different data repositories For example, you may have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system working side by side with an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP). You may also have a Point of Sales (POS) system- a system that has its own data source. All of these different disconnected data sources pose risks, as they prevent you from not gaining a clear picture of your customer.

Before one can understand the benefits of leveraging data to their advantage, one needs to understand the pitfalls that come with decentralized data. Data silos make it difficult to obtain accurate information about how your company operates and performs. This issue comes from data being difficult to obtain and share across departments. One of the main issues with decentralized data is that there are often roadblocks when it comes to communicating and connecting with others within your organization. This can be detrimental to planning, visibility, and decision making in both Small to Medium (SMB) and Enterprise organizations. Additionally, these limitations can make it difficult to trust your existing data, which can severely hurt your business.

One example of an industry that can benefit from eliminating data silos is the manufacturing industry. Things can change drastically in a short amount of time and limitations in communication or data consolidation can make it hard to keep up. If you are unable to fulfill your consumers’ needs because of efficiency issues, you may run into problems with customer retention and overall revenue. Even if your organization has the hardest working people on the job, decentralized data can prevent those employees from gathering the information they need. Integrating data across all systems can give manufacturing companies the advantage they need against their competitors. 

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What are Data Silos and Why Do They Matter?

One of the biggest challenges for enterprise businesses is dealing with siloed data. When data is stored in silos, it is difficult to get a complete picture of what is going on within the organization, leading to inefficiencies, decision-making problems and an overall lack of governance. Inefficiencies, for example, can occur when data is duplicated or when data is not accessible to those who need it. On the other hand, decision-making problems can arise when decision-makers do not have access to all of the relevant data needed. This can lead to decision-making that is based on incomplete information, which can have a negative impact on the business. Additionally, siloed data can make it difficult to track trends and understand how the business is performing overall. A lack of data governance can also lead to data being mishandled or misused. According to a study by The Economist, “as much as 85% of data is siloed in organizations, preventing it from being used to its full potential.” To overcome these challenges, enterprise businesses need to invest in data management solutions that can help them break down data silos and get a more complete view of their business.

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights Terms to Know

Here are frequently used terms Inside of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights:

Customer Data Platform (CDP) – consolidates all your customer data from different data silos and provides a deeper understanding into that information.
Data Silo – A collection of data held by one group that is not completely accessible to others within the organization.
Data Source – The location from which the data has been gathered.
Audience Insights – A capability of Customer insights that combines data into a customer profile.
Customer Profiles – Detail the interaction between your business and your ideal customers.
Business accounts (B2B) – These accounts are companies and organizations.
Individual consumers (B2C) – These accounts are individual consumers.

What is a Customer Data Platform?

A Customer Data Platform (CDP) helps businesses centralize data stemming across silos to provide insights about the customer and their journey. A Customer Data Platform can also help make that centralized data available to other systems, givig you the ability to build personalized journeys for customers based on demographics, behavior, engagement, and more. 

If we zoom out, we can think of a CDP as two parts. The first part provides a centralized and consolidated view of your customer by bringing together multiple data sources. For example, their digital activity, their purchasing behavior, returned products, social posts, orders placed, webpages visited, or their customer service requests. The second-part is where the magic begins- created a full 360-degree view of the customer. In order to do this, you would need to fill in the gaps of your existing data with context of who the person is. For example, their geographic location, where they live, their income, or how many children they have. This is done with the help of enrichment data. With this combination of information at hand, businesses now have a clear and concise understanding of their customer and can leverage that information to gain deeper insight into their customers and help provide more personalized experiences. 

What is Dynamics 365 Customer Insights?

Most organizations have information across all applications, each with their own data source. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, Microsoft’s artificial intelligence-driven customer data platform, helps you to eliminate data silos and unify customer data across your business. This user-friendly and customizable customer data platform (CDP) combines transactional, behavioral, and demographic data, allowing you to get multi-dimensional customer profiles and gain real-time insights. This means that you can make unified decisions across all departments. With a CDP like D365 Customer Insights, you can streamline the integration of existing data and systems and drive your customer journey.

customer insights home-page

How can Dynamics 365 Customer Insights Benefit Your Business?

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights uses AI to provide a comprehensive view of customer insights. With this information, you can make better decisions through all departments, such as sales, marketing, and customer service. With D365 Customer Insights you can:

  • Collect and study data needed to design products and services tailored to your customers’ needs.
  • Provide product recommendations based on how much a customer is spending and what they’re purchasing
  • Monitor customer engagement and be proactive when engagement falls below healthy levels
  • Predict upcoming demand and manage your inventory accordingly.
  • Make better business decisions by anticipating market developments.
  • Use customer input in your profiles to continuously improve products.
  • Identify changes in trends before competitors

Understanding Audience Insights in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights

Audience insights is a capability of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights that combines data to create a high-level view of your customer. Audience Insights uses prebuilt connectors to bring in the most important data, allowing you to eliminate data silos and gain a unified view of your customer profile. Audience Insights connects data from several sources and consolidates it to offer a holistic view of your customers. 

Using audience insights, businesses can achieve the following: 

  • Deliver more personalized experiences: Audience Insights provides contextual insights right out-of-the-box. These insights can be injected into business applications such as Dynamics 365 Sales, Marketing and Customer Service to empower each department. 
  • Unify data: Prebuilt connectors allow you to connect to the most popular data sources to bring in behavioral, transactional, and social data. 
  • Automate Customer-focused Experiences: Audience Insights allows you to customize a customer’s profile or customer segments to define what’s most important to your business and automate customer-centric experiences. 
Audience Insights 1

Identifying Your Audience

Defining an environment starts with defining the kind of audience you want to target. Of course, the types of clients with whom each company interacts will be different. Some organizations target enterprises exclusively, and others focus on individual consumers. The two options in Audience insights are Business to Business Accounts (B2B) and Individual Consumers (B2C). After creating an environment with one audience, the next one you create will be the other. You will have the option to toggle between the two.

Once the audience has been identified, audience insights will take in data from the different connected data sources and bring them together in a single customer profile. Once the profile is unified, audience insights provides items like measures and data enrichment. From within the custom profile, you can track data, and identify trends based on the data you are looking to track. 

Integrating Dynamics 365 Customer Insights

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights may connect to any data source and works with your with your existing marketing channels to extract data from your operational systems and connecting it to a single individual consumer profile. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights also gives you the opportunity to leverage all the benefits of the Microsoft platform and extend the solution. You can link Customer Insights with tools such as Power BI to obtain full customer insights, or use Power Automate to trigger workflows based on your customer’s actions. By integrating Customer Insights with other Microsoft products, you can streamline your data analysis and drive productivity across multiple departments, such as sales and marketing.

Prerequisites for Dynamics 365 Customer Insights

Customer Insights is a multi-capability subscription that is licensed per tenant. The global administrator of the Microsoft 365 tenant receives an email inviting them to configure the environment after purchasing the license.

While Dynamics 365 Customer Insights can be beneficial to your business in many ways, it is important to be prepared. Customer Insights is built on top of Azure, so to start you must have an Azure subscription.

Since customer insights is a relatively new addition to the Microsoft family, integration and management may not be the most user friendly. Investing in the help of a Microsoft partner may be beneficial when looking into Dynamics 365 Customer Insights.

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Dynamics 365 Customer Insights Pricing and Licensing

Customer Insights is licensed per tenant. It contains business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) competencies, with the option to purchase add-on licenses for more profiles or accounts. Here is the current pricing from Microsoft:

Customer Insights Pricing

Closing

Overall, decentralized data can be detrimental to your business. It is tough to get reliable information about how your organization functions and performs when data silos exist. Businesses can use the Dynamic 365 Customer Insights solution to consolidate customer data and apply AI-driven insights into their workflows. By concentrating your data with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, you have the opportunity to bypass your competitors. In summary, D365 Customer Insights can help you in these four ways:

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