Think about the software you use during your working day. You use email, maybe a CRM, an accounting software. The marketing team may use an email marketing platform and perhaps a marketing software for their campaigns. All these systems are enclosed, creating data silos. While data can be found, it takes some time to look for it. Sales may have to ring up accounts to find out if an invoice has been paid. Customer Service may have ask marketing about their interaction with a customer. So much time is wasted chasing pieces of data.
High-level decisions are often data driven, but the challenges most organizations face is consolidating data silos so that insights can be gained from collated data. The financial and human resource management software WorkDay collects vast quantities of data spread across several silos, including Salesforce.com, and IT help desk software, ServiceNow. WorkDay’s CIO, Diana McKenzie, said in a recent CIO article that “A lot of data that tells us where we have opportunities to run the business more effectively and efficiently sits within a number of our platforms. Our ability to mine that to inform ourselves about where some of those opportunities might be is very important to us.”
Some of you may have found out about the workaround, the good old import/export function, also known as Data Migration. But an Experian report found that 85% of businesses that engage in data migration projects experience significant problems managing these projects. You’re also running the risk that you’re importing tainted data, such as duplicates and defunct data.
Data integration helps with all of these problems. It literally syncs your systems together so that your customer data is updated in real time and the entire team has access to this data. You can then use other front end tools to visualize this data so that it is easily digestible to C-level executives who can then make fast decisions.
Big Data expert Ted Clark from Adventag, told me recently that the front-end data visualization tools aren’t able to do the heavy lifting of the back end tools that integrate your data. Clark says, “You need to integrate your data before you go get a fancy front end that makes your data look good.”
You might not have a flash graph to present to your boss straight away, but any process involving vast quantities of data is going to look ugly before it looks better “We use backend tools not for presenting data, but to focus on organizing it into one place where other people can do the visualization on it,” Clark says, “We challenge ourselves to get real data into something you can look at in a 1-2 day period, and even getting to data you haven’t seen before.”
With the proper checks in place, you can ensure that your data is clean and if you’re using clean data, you’re also producing accurate reports from which high-level decision making can be made.
Data Integration means you never have to search for hours through data silos again. It means your teams will have the latest information about all accounts and customers, to hand when they need it. It means you no longer have to manually import/export information from one system to another. It also ensures that you have consistent, quality data in your system, which is paramount to running a business.
Experian Quality Datafound that “Good data quality helps to prevent the problems of wasted revenue, reduced profits, lost reputation and negative customer experience. This has always been the case, but now customers are increasingly intolerant of errors. It’s easier for them to switch away from you and look elsewhere – and they’re more likely to do this at the first hint of a mistake.”
In other words, if you want to make serious business decisions, you need some serious data to back it up. But in order to truly harness the power of your data, you need to implement a company-wide data strategy.
A company-wide data strategy is mandatory for organizations who wish to remain competitive. A recently released report from “The Economist Intelligence Unit” found that Companies that have a well-defined data strategy are much more likely to say that they financially outperform their competitors—in fact, strategic data managers are four times as likely to report that they are substantially ahead of peers compared to data collectors and wasters.
By not implementing a company-wide data strategy, you run the risk of your organization becoming obsolete or facing stiff competition from startups or companies in adjacent industries.
A report from CapGemini found that “Companies are realizing that current organizational structures and external relationships, all of which tend to be based around silos, make it very difficult to innovate in order to get and use insights from big data. This may be why some of the biggest threats in some sectors are coming from outside: either from start-ups or from existing companies in adjacent sectors that do not suffer from these artificial constraints.”
Indeed, larger Enterprises are facing serious threats from more nimble start-ups and small business who are more easily able to take advantage and implement technological advances as they arise.
Next week I’ll write about the nuts and bolts of Data Integration: APIs.
Want to start integrating your data? PieSync can sync your contact data two-way and in real between your favorite cloud apps.