If you don’t fix your data, it’ll boil you alive

Data used to be the stuff that only techies and finance departments dealt with. It was useful but it was outside of what most departments used on a daily basis. Businesses are often organised in silos, where one department often exists without speaking to another part and many don’t even think it needs to speak or listen to customers, so data gets passed around like a Chinese whisper, distorting and degrading with every transaction.

However, things have changed since digital has come to more prominence – I guess it all started going mainstream with Google analytics and as marketing teams started to understand how customers were actually behaving when visiting their websites.

Today, data informs decisions across the business and not just in the finance and IT departments and in a world where every retailer is seeking to move to a multi-channel model, the internal silos are breaking down, as the need for more efficiency and coherence across business functions is becoming essential to profitability, the ethos being, create data once (content, prices and product information etc.) and publish it in every channel.

That is of course easier than it sounds and there’s many a consultancy business who make tidy sums from helping organisations tidy up their data and data models, not to mention the huge fees charged for projects that are designed to move data from one system to another and integrate it all seamlessly.

The reality is that if your business data is poor, then the customer experience will also be poor and bear in mind that data encompasses everything from your product descriptions and specifications on your website and published catalogue to the prices you pay your suppliers for raw materials to the bar codes you use to identify the products in the warehouse and everything in between. It is so interwoven into every aspect of every business (like the internet is into the western culture) its easy to forget that its always there in the background.

As customer expectations have escalated, so has the need to integrate the data from all these burgeoning systems and consequently so has the complexity and opportunity for data to be corrupted and degraded.

Bad data is like the boiled frog syndrome, it sneaks up on your business over the period of years and as you employ more and more people to manage it, it gradually boils your business alive, but in such a subtle way, its hard to point the finger and blame bad data.

It just gets lumped in with the old ‘too many people at head office and too much overhead’ reason for going bust and nobody looks any deeper and its easy to lose site of the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Fortunately, there’s solutions out there that don’t require the expense of integration and certainly don’t require massive headcount to manage; www.virtualstock.co.uk being one that is taking the retail sector by storm.

But whatever system you decide to use to fix your data problems, make sure you fix it before it boils your business alive.

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