Unification vs. Deduplication: Mastering the Art of the 360-Degree View

Published by Delpha on January 3, 2024

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A 360-degree view is invaluable as it provides a comprehensive and detailed picture of each customer’s interactions and relationships with a business. This holistic approach aggregates data from various customer touchpoints—sales, marketing, customer service, and social media interactions—allowing businesses to gain deep insights into customer preferences, behaviors, and needs. With this information, companies can tailor their communication, personalize their offerings, and predict future customer behavior more accurately. This enhanced understanding leads to improved customer engagement, higher satisfaction levels, more effective cross-selling and upselling opportunities, and ultimately stronger customer loyalty and retention, which are essential for long-term business success in a customer-centric market.

Unification is critical for creating this 360-degree view of the customer, integrating data from multiple touchpoints and channels. But Unification is not Deduplication.  Deduplication ensures that this unified customer data is accurate and free of redundancies, which is essential for effective data analysis and personalized experiences:

  • Unification refers to the process of integrating customer data from various sources into a single, cohesive customer profile. This involves combining data from different channels, platforms, and customer interactions to create a comprehensive view of each customer. The goal is to have a unified dataset that provides a complete and accurate representation of the customer’s interactions, preferences, and behaviors.
  • Deduplication involves identifying and removing duplicate records within the customer data. It’s common for customer data to have redundancies, especially when it’s collected from multiple sources. Deduplication ensures that each customer is represented only once in the database, avoiding confusion and ensuring accuracy in data-driven insights and marketing strategies.

The distinction between the two is as follows:

  • Purpose: Unification aims to create a holistic view of the customer by integrating data from various sources. Deduplication aims to clean the data by removing duplicates, ensuring that each customer record is unique.
  • Process: Unification is about merging disparate data sources into a single customer profile, while deduplication involves scanning the data to find and eliminate duplicate entries.
  • Impact on Data: Unification enhances the quality of customer insights by providing a more complete view of the customer, while deduplication improves data accuracy and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

The order in which these processes are executed can vary based on the specific circumstances and the nature of the data. However, a common approach is:

  • Deduplication First: This involves identifying and removing duplicate records from each individual data source before the unification process. By cleaning the data sources first, it ensures that when the data is unified, it is as clean and accurate as possible, reducing the complexity and computational load of the unification process.
  • Unification Second: After deduplication, the cleaned data from various sources are merged or unified into a single, comprehensive customer profile. This process involves integrating data from multiple touchpoints and channels to create a 360-degree view of the customer.

This approach helps maintain the integrity of the unified dataset and ensures that it is free from redundancies, which is essential for accurate analysis and effective customer relationship management. However, the specific steps can be adjusted based on the data architecture, the nature of the data sources, and the capabilities of the Customer Data Platform (CDP) or lakehouse being used: they may not guarantee the uniqueness of this data.

The process of data unification in the context of Customer Data Platforms (CDP) or Lakehouses is a complex task that involves technical, procedural, and strategic challenges. It’s not a “magical” solution but rather a sophisticated process that requires careful planning and execution. Key risks and errors can include data mismatches and inconsistencies due to varying formats and standards, incomplete or outdated data leading to an incomplete understanding of the customer, and potential privacy and compliance issues, especially when integrating data from diverse sources with different regulatory requirements. Moreover, the integration of disparate systems can pose technical challenges and increase the risk of data loss or corruption. Therefore, while data unification provides significant benefits in terms of a comprehensive view of data and enhanced analytics, it is important to approach it with a clear strategy and robust data governance practices to mitigate these risks and ensure successful implementation.

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