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Cognitive Dissonance and MDM Consulting

Venkataraman Ramanathan
Principal Consultant
venkataraman_ramanathan@mindtree.com

In the realm of marketing, consumer buying behavior is usually sliced and diced across the dimension that they call Cognitive Dissonance! It speaks about how a consumer tries to “justify” the purchases made due to the indecision factor that sets in after the purchase is made. Hence, if you draw your own quadrant (not the Magic One!), there are reasons from self, others, marketers and competitors to cater to. Information comes by aplenty, but the decision to set into the consumer’s mind space is what is still empty. If we now extrapolate this to a strategy at a corporate level to manage enterprise wide information, then the “post purchase behavior” and the consumer decision making process is visible.

Now, in engagements that span information management, specifically looking at managing data across its lifecycle, the access to a single source of clean and trusted customer record is something that enterprises are thirsty for. This is where MDM also plays a critical role. Strategically, if there is a decision made and the plan is in place with respect to the goals and mission set for the program, there is and will always be an “empty space” to be filled in to “justify” the direction taken. In cases where millions of currency (let’s say USD, EURO, INR, GBP, etc.) are at stake, system integrators need to understand that businesses are staring directly at Cognitive Dissonance!

Some of the questions that might arise can be:

  • Did I make the right choice?
  • Is this the step in the right direction?
  • Would the other vendor have made sense?
  • Would the incumbent have been a better choice?
  • Maybe, I was wrong and the other CxO’s were right about playing it safe.

The constant need to reduce the risks and derive value out of the engagement is omnipresent in every discussion. Hence, in case of data management driven projects, the Business Value Articulation (BVA) and Business Value Projections (BVPs) are an important post and pre-task to be discussed and a journey to be taken up together. Believe me when I say that there is a social stigma that they are afraid of within the company if there is at least not an ounce of value showcased. Hence, the risks perceived are financial, productivity, people engagement and social. It is not easy to showcase the data improvements and the data profitability.

How can these SI’s look at reducing this Cognitive Dissonance? Marketers have a host of post purchase “components” – brochures eliciting the benefits of the product, support centers for help, service calls to check for help needed, etc., that help in bridging the gap between aplenty and empty in the consumer’s mind. But cut to our domain, we do not have the liberty of setting up a call center to check for regular services. But yes, some good people in the client facing roles act as our service operators. So, the need even today – when CRM has matured and ERP and SCM have been understood to drive the value chain – with the underlying common denominator of data as an asset has to be approached in a consulting mode.

So how do we piece this together? Cognitive Dissonance, data lifecycle, values and the mode of approach – how can they work with each other? Ingrained in any approach in consulting is to showcase the value that is being brought in. In what terms is subjective, but the availability of at least one is imperative. Hence, when the approach to the problem happens with the value showcased to the business problems faced, is when the “marketer” has provided the brochure to the consumer. To reduce the effect further is to add transparency in the quantitative methods by realizing and hand holding businesses. This can be done through discussions to understand the improvements that they want and sift them to the benefits that an MDM program can achieve. I will leave it at this point to continue in another post.

What have been your data lifecycle experiences? How have the MDM decision making been in your business? Do share your thoughts.

  • Anil

    When there is a discrepancy in choosing the result from two conflicting ideas,if we bias to the questions that got raised in the view of Customer, as you said, I believe it will reap miracle results. I believe this will work not only in terms of MDM , but also in other aspects too.