A couple weeks ago I had a chance to attend the Customer Insights In-a-Day workshop up in Redmond. I walked in knowing a little bit about what Customer Insights was, and I walked out having created unified customer profiles from four disparate data sets which showed customer-level activity across all four systems in a single view (in just a few hours). On the whole, it was very impressive. Using traditional methods to match/merge data from four systems would take weeks, not hours. On a side note, I’d like to see the matching technology deployed in other areas of Office and Dynamics 365 – my Outlook contacts would be a great start. D365 Duplicate Detection would be another key area where this could help. Yes, there are plenty of ISVs for this, but it would be a great built-in feature to the Enterprise and other premium SKUs. But back to Customer Insights, here are some of the questions I had going in, and my current thoughts: What is Customer Insights? Customer Insights (CI from here on) is a tool that can combine multiple, disconnected customer datasets into a single Customer Profile. For example, if you have a point-of-sale system in your retail stores, an e-commerce system for online sales, and a D365 Service system for customer support, CI can ingest all the data and with minimal help, identify each unique customer from each system and create a unified customer profile that shows all their activity across all systems in one screen. For the database folks out there, a catch phrase I caught on one of the videos is “CI creates keys where keys don’t exist.” Here’s a quick look at how the matching works. In this example, we’re tying the e-commerce system to the D365 Service system, matching on the customer’s email address. Note the Precision slider, which is used to set the confidence level of the matches. Exact match means the email must match character for character. Pulling the slider back towards Low determines the “fuzziness level” of the fuzzy matching logic. There are more features of the platform, such as predictive modeling based on the consolidated data, but the core feature is unifying customer data into a single profile. One thing to point out: at the moment a “Customer” is defined as a Contact. Account-based insights is on the roadmap. Who should use it? CI is best for organizations with multiple systems that contain customer data that are not currently connected. Note that CI is platform-agnostic, so you don’t need to have Dynamics or Microsoft data sources. It’ll work on anything it can produce a CSV, and I expect that more data sources will become available over time (more details here). Where does this Unified Customer Profile live? The Customer Profile only lives within the CI application itself, and since it’s producing its output from an amalgamation of data from different source systems, it’s also read-only. However, this doesn’t mean that the data from CI isn’t actionable – you can feed the data back into D365 Sales or D365 Service for example, which can display elements of the Customer Profile to the salespeople and agents that can better arm them with the data they need to close a sale or resolve a ticket. It reminded me of Insights by InsideView, which showed data from another system within the context of a particular record in D365 Sales. As an example, in the lab exercise we fed purchase data from an online e-commerce platform plus an in-store PoS system to show a consolidated purchase history for a customer within the Contact record in D365 Service. A customer service agent can use this to make an educated guess as to what the call is about, which might help reduce the overall time to resolution. “Hi Abbie, I see you recently purchased a whatchamacallit from our Lakeview store last week. Is that what you’re calling about?” In addition, CI can connect to Power Automate. This opens many doors for feeding data directly back to the source system records, that can be used in source system queries and even trigger other workflows. One example that came to mind from the lab the Lifetime Spend, which would make a great segmentation variable in D365 Sales. Advanced Find for my active Contacts sorted by Lifetime Spend descending, and boom, there’s your top customer list that considers sales across all channels. Sending this consolidated data back to the source systems, in my mind, is where the rubber meets the road for CI. It closes the loop and allows the right people (or automated workflows) to take the actions that drive results. That said, this puts tremendous pressure on the accuracy of the match/merge process. Giving a high-value coupon to a low-value segment (or equivalent) is a real risk. Where does the Customer Insights data live? I’m no expert here, but from what I gathered, CI data is stored in a combination of the Common Data Service and Azure Data Lake. CI customers with an existing Power Apps / CDS subscription might see the CI entities in their tenant (we need to do some testing on this). But if you’re not already on CDS, you won’t get access to the CDS environment; that would still require the Power Apps licensing. How is it licensed? Currently, CI is licensed at the tenant level. One license fee, and all users can benefit from the technology. The license is tiered based on the number of customer profiles, starting at up to 100k. So there’s Customer Insights, Sales Insights, Product Insights, and Customer Service Insights. Are these related in any way? The short answer here is no. Each “Insights” product might be leveraging some similar technology behind the scenes, but they’re each directed to solve a different problem. I don’t see Microsoft producing a huge “Everything Insights” platform any time soon; they’re taking the approach of providing a menu of Insights products that you can pick and choose from to help solve specific pain points. We’re seeing this trend with FIN/OPS being split into Finance and Supply Chain – pick the “app” that solves your issue and only pay for what you need. That’s all for now. If you’re interested in learning more about CI, take a look for a Customer Insights In-A-Day workshop near you, or give us a call to set up a demo.