Using an Operational Data Store for Marketing

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Databases have been growing in size for some time. It is essential for business owners to use an operational data store (ODS) if they want to market effectively and drive long-term business growth. An ODS offers them the speed, scalability, low latency, and agility they need to stay ahead of the competition.

What is an ODS and how has it evolved?

An operational data store extracts information from different sources and integrates it in a central database. It can even integrate data from geographically distant sources. It is unique from a data warehouse in that the data is volatile and updated frequently.

The ODS is used as a decision-support system for a business based on specific subject areas, such as Customers, Products, Orders, and Shipments.

The extract/transform/load process (ETL) is used to move data into the ODS from external data sources because it comes from various sources and may be in different formats. ETL extracts the data and transforms source data into a format compliant with the design of the ODS before loading it. From there, it integrates real-time data into BI tools, dashboards and reports.

Operational data stores have been around for some time and they traditionally only stored data for a short window and were usually updated at the end of the day. They have evolved significantly since then. Businesses that want to use an operational data store for digital transformation need to look at a next-generation ODS because traditional ones have various limitations.

A traditional ODS does not have real-time API services that support new digital requirements. The refresh rate of a traditional ODS may support day-end reporting but digital applications require real-time data. Limited scalability is another difficulty as multiple users may access the ODS simultaneously and this can affect performance.

Why do businesses need an ODS?

An ODS integrates data from various systems of record, so reports and analytics are more comprehensive than those based on individual data sources. With more comprehensive reporting and analytics, businesses can make more tactical marketing decisions.

As the access to the various systems of record is usually restricted for security reasons, having an ODS means that more people in the business have access to reporting.

An ODS helps a business to work through time-sensitive business rules to automate processes which can significantly improve efficiency.

An ODS can enhance data privacy and protect a business from cyberattacks because it constantly overwrites data, doesn’t store historical data and therefore eliminates potential unauthorized access to it. Understanding cybersecurity is essential for businesses today as they often face cyber threats.

An ODS simplifies the diagnosis of issues as it provides an updated view of the status of operations. For example, finding a customer order, its status, and other troubleshooting information is easier.

Businesses do not have to replace a traditional ODS if they already have one. They can augment it with event-driven architecture, smart caching, analytics, and microservices API instead of replacing it.

The benefits of using an ODS for marketing purposes

An ODS focuses on current data, which makes it ideal for making operational decisions. It is constantly updated, which means it contains the most current data. As it is designed to allow granular queries, it will frequently update, providing real-time or near real-time reports. Marketing professionals are more reliant on data than ever before, and for a good reason. Data-driven marketing is more likely to attract and retain customers. Personalization has become a crucial aspect of marketing and staying ahead of consumer trends is one of the best ways to stay competitive. In order to make their marketing campaigns as effective as possible, marketers need access to integrated, clean, properly formatted data provided by an ODS. It is not enough just to collect data but to use insights to deliver a better experience to every customer.

Informed decision-making: Effective, targeted marketing campaigns are necessary to drive sales. By gaining access to real-time information from many different systems, marketers can stay informed and make quick decisions. For example, they can query the ODS for a live operational view, asking questions like “How many x products were purchased in the last hour?”

Customer analysis: Using an ODS means businesses can collect and analyze customer data to help marketing teams. They can segment customers, score them appropriately and communicate offers to them based on factors like specific products they purchase or how frequently they order. By increasing the relevance of marketing activities, the return on investment increases.

Quick response times: Customers expect quick response times today and this just isn’t possible when API calls are made to many data sources for each action. By using a distributed in-memory core, performance is not limited when unplanned volumes of calls take place as back-end systems aren’t affected by high workloads.

Predictive modeling: When real-time data is available, predictive modeling can take place. Predictive modeling can forecast marketing performance based on past campaigns. It can offer a better understanding of customer behavior so marketers can create more customized experiences for their customers and potential customers.

High availability: Customers expect businesses to be available 24/7 today. When managing multiple systems of record, the chances of one system going down increases. By decoupling the API layer from the systems of record, applications keep working even when a system of record is not available.

Hybrid deployment: Many businesses today have data on their premises and in the cloud. Using a next-generation ODS means they can deal with hybrid deployment without any impact on their performance.

Self-service options for customers: When customers have self-service options and can help themselves, employees can engage in more productive activities.

Synchronizing remote data centers: Businesses may have data centers in remote sites due to the need to adhere to regulations and offer high availability. They can synchronize all their data centers in real-time with next-generation ODS.


Today, more and more businesses are implementing cloud-based, robust next-generation operational data stores. A modern ODS contains current, integrated operational data that supports more effective and relevant marketing campaigns and increases return on investment.

Article by Born Realist