An Enterprise Data Platform for the Age of the Customer

November 16, 2016

Contributed by Pierre Fricke

Data is ubiquitous due to the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices. According to Forrester, 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years, much of which is unstructured and unwieldy. Sensors, location beacons, GPS, mobile device interaction patterns and real-time locations drive new customer, partner, and value chain data that can make the difference between a mediocre and great customer experience.

The opportunities presented by this explosion of data define the age

Watch Now: Webinar Featuring Forrester Research Analyst Noel Yuhanna

 of the customer – the need to obtain insight into and act swiftly on customer needs and wants. Customers want personalization, targeted messaging, offers, proposals, and specials targeted uniquely to them. Enterprises must empower the customer to be able to make informed decisions rapidly at the point of need whether they want to buy this product or subscribe to this service. The decisions customers make based on this information may be nearly instantaneous. These are known as “mobile moments”. The enterprise that makes it easy for its customers to make these decisions wins in the marketplace. According to Forrester, 60% of organizations understand that a customer-centric environment will be their only sustainable competitive advantage in years to come. For those enterprises used to sustaining advantage by means of technology and process mastery alone, this is a rude shock.

This does not mean that technology has become irrelevant to customer service. On the contrary, the following are all critical:

  • Leveraging advanced analytics to optimize product mixes served during mobile moments.
  • Offering better customer service through mobile devices, and specifically targeted apps.
  • Using social media channels and data to deliver contextual customer messages, advertising, and/or proactive support.

As enterprises work to leverage more digital solutions in their interaction with customers, the management of physical assets, and use of data to drive faster, more automated decisions within their processes, puts pressure on traditional data management systems. Many of these systems were installed in support of a single project or application and duplicate data also resides elsewhere in the infrastructure. A big challenge for enterprise IT is to integrate this information and present it to people via applications in a way that provides real time insight. Data-driven insights at the speed of business have become essential to support successful digital initiatives.

More fit-for-purpose data management technologies are being deployed that offer real opportunities to positively impact business growth and efficiency. However, these new capabilities are often available only in siloed platforms, which forces enterprises to spend time and effort to integrate them to maximize value and to make them actionable.

Enterprise IT needs a data platform from which applications, IT staff, and Line of Business personnel can get all relevant data integrated to deliver a more complete understanding of customers, supply chain, events, etc. to customer-facing applications. Data needed resides in systems of record, business applications, and customer-facing applications. We have seen customers begin to build such platforms in the financial services, banks, insurance company, retailers, healthcare, and supply chain sectors. This data platform ties all customer data together, which then becomes accessible through APIs, through database access, through JDBC, ODBC, or different types of access through XML, SOAP, REST protocols to write applications.

In an international manufacturing supply chain, for example, critical data is culled from sensors (IoT) within factories and analyzed instantaneously to derive actionable business intelligence. That BI is then pushed to workers worldwide who use mobile tablets. Field mobility allows them to make highly informed decision at the point of contact – decisions such as to which port the company should send its cargo (e.g., Hamburg or Amsterdam) based on real-time factors such as weather, the downstream effects of which (e.g., tardiness) can have significant effects on customer satisfaction. Underlying each of these processes are terabytes and even petabytes of both unstructured and structured data stored in database management systems in the cloud. These ecosystems of digital solutions—in this case alone, IoT, analytics, mobility, and cloud—present welcome database-enabled paradigms within enterprises and that are turning entire industries upside down.

The reality in IT is either a mess or a data fabric. There's a developing tension between the data center and IT, and business leaders who need to deliver superior experiences to their customers. We see MongoDB and MySQL at the edge. A lot of data from these new devices is found in big data platforms that are Hadoop-based. Standard document stores and analytic stores are growing. But the relational database is the system of record and contains key data that may be with custom or packaged applications. All of this data needs to be available to customer-facing applications, as well as to key decision-making and analytical applications.

EDB Postgres™ combines the best of several of these worlds into a single data platform. PostgreSQL is the most mature and robust open source enterprise relational DBMS. EDB Postgres includes the ability to support semi-structured and unstructured data and documents using its built-in JSON capability. Additionally, EDB Postgres adds EDB Postgres Integration Suite, which includes data adapters (foreign data wrappers) that allow IT to integrate these other database management systems into a data fabric.

EDB recently presented a joint webinar with Forrester Research. This presentation features Forrester Analyst Noel Yuhanna describing the age of the customer, and then Lenley Hensarling, SVP of Product Management and Strategy at EDB, who discusses how open source EDB Postgres can be a fundamental building block within that model, including the  extensibility and integration capabilities within PostgreSQL that enable that.

For more information about EDB Postgres, email

Pierre Fricke is Vice President, Product Marketing at EnterpriseDB. 

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