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360 Degrees Isn’t Enough to Chart Your Digital Transformation Journey

In selling situations, software vendors love to promise prospects “a full 360-degree view” of all their customer data.  It’s a popular, throwaway marketing line; almost a cliché, leaving the impression that their product gives you a view of the customers from every possible vantage point: just like a compass.

What vendors often don’t tell you is that their “platform” is often a combination of products that sit beside one another – like the four 90-degree angles between north, east, south, and west that add up to 360 degrees – without ever touching one another. 

360 degree vs omnidirectional

A compass can be a handy thing to have for recreational hiking. But even a 360-degree field of view has its limits: what you really need is up-down-all-around omnidirectional vision to spot changing developments from every direction. That’s why for a really long or really important journey I’d much rather have a GPS or the navigation app in my smart phone: assuming that I had an always-on mobile connection, it offers more robust information, pinpoints my exact location, tells me precisely how much progress I’ve made towards my destination, and alerts me to potential problems and opportunities around the bend.

Centralized decisioning is the digital decisioning equivalent of a GPS. It’s the new upper-right-hand-corner of competitive offerings, where the highest levels of decisioning sophistication and business value meet. Like comparing a compass to a GPS, a comparison between traditional software applications – or even previous-generation decisioning systems – to centralized decisioning isn’t a fair fight.  Here’s why:

1) A compass stays fixated on just one data point

A compass tells you just one thing: direction. It cannot tell you where you are in terms of your destination, how fast you are traveling towards it, or when you will get there… only that it’s somewhere in that direction. (Of course, doesn’t even point to the same “north” as the one on your map; it points to magnetic north, which can be 400-1000km from true north.)  The same holds true with software applications designed as point solutions; unless they can be made to operate synergistically as part of a larger platform, they can only provide a very limited view of the customer… certainly not enough for decisioning.

Why GPS/Centralized Decisioning is better: A GPS is an intelligent, geospatial GIS-driven digital map, that includes finely-detailed, always-updated information on your starting point, destination, route, speed, and ETA over time. It moves with you and captures changes in your surroundings in real-time. In the same vein, Centralized Decisioning delivers omnidirectional real-time insights and suggested actions in response to (or anticipation of) changes in a customer’s situation or macro-market developments. To your customer, it offers and immersive, high-personalized, and contextually responsive user experience.

2) A compass operates as though the world is flat

A compass works in 2D, so it offers virtually no useful information about topography.  It is blind to natural obstructions like mountains, chasms, and other natural obstructions that could impede your journey; and it cannot alert you to more 3D threats above or below… whether something potentially annoying like birds sitting overhead, or something truly dangerous like quicksand three paces ahead.  Similarly, many software standalone applications have a very limited field of view because they operate in siloed systems designed to support a single function or department; they cannot aggregate their insights to provide a broader customer view.

Why GPS/Centralized Decisioning is better: Just as GPS unifies all types of digital information – from roadmaps, GIS systems, elevation studies, real-time traffic reports, etc. – Centralized Decisioning unifies all siloed application data from across and from all levels within the enterprise… detailed information needed to provide an immersive, IMAX-like view of the customer and plan a personalized customer journey over their full lifecycle. This unlimited visibility enables a 3D view of the customer and makes hyper-personalized customer experiences possible… which, in turn, increases satisfaction and retention.

3) A compass has no concept of time

If you throw your compass in your backpack, and then your backpack in a closet, the needle will continue to point towards magnetic north.  So, barring a geomagnetic reversal (there have only been 183 reversals over the last 83 million years, roughly or every ~450,000 years) it will remain pointing north until your next trip, oblivious to the time that has passed.  The same is true of data in applications that aren’t continually refreshed and cross-pollinated with newer, fresher information: the data gets stale, outdated, and eventually unusable.

Why GPS/Centralized Decisioning is better: Your GPS or navigation system is continually pinging for updates, revising what it knows, filling in what it doesn’t, and refreshing what it is presenting to the user. Data remains current in real-time, allowing the user to instantaneously make smarter decisions to arrive at their destination faster and more safely.  Centralized decisioning operates exactly the same way: any changes in a customer’s profile, behavior, or analytically-predicted needs automatically updates their master record, and proposes revised, personalized customer strategies.  Again, this serves to boost customer satisfaction and retention.

4) A compass can lead you in the wrong direction

Navigating over long distances via compass – especially in the air or over water – can be a hit-or-miss proposition: for every degree that a plane or boat veers off its course, it misses its target destination by about one mile for every 60 miles travelled.  So, if you set a compass heading from Los Angeles to Cadiz, Spain and were only off by one degree, you’d end up in Africa… in Tangier, Morocco, to be precise. Software applications, when used in decisioning, can have the same effect: one errant piece of data that goes undetected can throw off the entire customer journey off course.

Why GPS/Centralized Decisioning is better: Making decisions based on imperfect data will, over time, cause your customer strategies to veer off course just enough to cause you to miss the bullseye. Just as a GPS continually verifies its position and heading to keep you on course, Centralized Decisioning persistently updates and validates data to ensure that customer strategies are followed and course corrections are made to ensure the optimal customer journey.

5) A compass is prone to bias and external influence

Because it relies on magnetism, a compass is susceptible to magnetic interference from metal objects – wrist watches, keys, mobile telephones, etc. – as well as natural electromagnetic anomalies. So much so that the updated World Magnetic Model – produced by National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British Geological Survey – has added “Black-Out Zones”(BoZ) where compasses aren’t at all reliable.  Decisioning systems cobbled together using siloed applications can also yield unwanted influence on the direction of your customer strategies, when one data set is more complete than the others, there are inconsistencies/conflicts in the underlying information, or critical information from key applications is left out of the decision.

Why GPS/Centralized Decisioning is better: People have driven their cars into oncoming traffic, onto wrong-way highways, and even into lakes following their GPS.  In the decisioning world, intentionally or not, data can be sliced, diced, skewed, mishandled, manipulated, and omitted in all sorts of ways to produce spurious results. Centralized decisioning takes a multitude of precautions to ensure that decisions are made on the best possible data available and is continually working to validate data before it can contaminate the decisioning process. This ensures that customer strategies are based in the accurate, verifiable information necessary to ensure optimal business outcomes.

Over the past few years, FICO has been helping leading corporations across the globe reach their digital transformations successfully and we have emerged has an industry-recognized leader in digital decisioning platforms.  We are uniquely qualified to advise companies on how to accelerate their transformation efforts in a people/process/technology-friendly manner, with minimal disruption to their existing operations. 

For more information on the FICO Centralized Decision solution, please visit  For educational material on digital transformation and digital disruption, please visit  For information on digital transformation in the financial services industry, including detailed research and reports from Arizent and American Banker, please visit

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