1. Why would a customer database be so useful for the companies described in this case? What would happen if these companies had not kept their customer data in databases?
2. How did better data management and analytics improve each company’s business performance? Give examples of two decisions that were improved by mining these customer databases.
3. Are there any ethical issues raised by mining customer databases? Explain your answer.
What’s the best way to find out what your customers want? If you’re a large business with millions of customers, it’s impossible to ask each one face- to- face. But thanks to modern data management and data mining technology, you can “ask” each one by mining your customer database. The results are dazzling and perhaps a bit unsettling as well. Customer databases typically contain data such as a customer’s name, address, and history of purchases. These databases include records of the company’s communication with its own customers or customer “lists” purchased from other organizations, including charity donation forms, application forms for free products or contests, product warranty cards, subscription forms, and credit application forms. Today these databases are starting to include customer data gathered from social media, mobile, Web, and e-mail transactions. Until fairly recently, large companies, such as Forbes, did not look closely at their own data. Forbes is an American publishing and media company that publishes the bi- weekly Forbes business magazine and maintains an extensive Web site. Its worldwide print and online readership numbers over 45 million people.