18 June 2015
2 min read
Integrate with your business strategy
First, you must understand why connecting data is important to your business, says Liz Barnsdale, MD of digital agency ais London: “Don't just connect your data because you think you should do it. Therein could lie unnecessary costs and distraction from your core business.
"Do it because you know why it's important for your business and your customers. And to do this, you need to be clear on your future business strategy. What's your destination over the next one to five years, and how does connecting data across your business help you achieve that?"
Invest in technology
Invest in tech that can help. Gnatta provides online software which seeks to collect together all channels of communication that a business may have with its customers, and converge it onto one dashboard where it can be seen at a glance. Gnatta’s MD Jack Barmby says: “CRM aspects ensure that the same customer, using different channels, is recognised, so the businesses can respond accordingly.”
If your budgets do not allow that, you need to focus on where you will gain the biggest advantage, or answer the biggest need. Ms Barnsdale says: “That might be linking your delivery or distribution function to your customer POS, or connecting your social interactions with your customer service functionality.”
Analyse data comprehensively
Once you’ve got it, use it properly. “If used properly, connected data will not only improve customer relations but it will also give you access to information which can help you adapt your business to better recognise what your customers want, therefore improving your business.” Mr Barmby adds: “It is not just a way of communicating, it is also a research tool providing you with real-time analytics and an in-depth understanding of your customer base.”
Tom McQueen, Futurice’s UK MD, agrees: “You can visualise it, use it to drive behaviour change, or optimise your usage. However, the real power is bringing together these disparate data sets into a system (such as the open-source software Hadoop), and analysing it, running scenarios and finding patterns which provide insight into how to really optimise your business.”
Avoid data overload
Don’t overload it. Mike Crooks, MiBeacons development director at mobile consultancy Mubaloo: “Data overload is an issue that affects many companies, where customers, employees and other stakeholders generate vast amounts of data many firms struggle to understand. This requires utilising back-end systems that are able to understand and use the data in an effective way. Companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and others are all focused on providing platforms for companies to do this.”
He adds: “The new 'internet of things' is already starting to reshape the type and amount of data that companies need, making it important to understand what’s critical and what isn’t. Making sense of this will be imperative for SMEs over the coming years.”
Take a security first approach
Stay safe. The process of onboarding data can be something as simple as connecting your sales CRM database with your website data, and keeping your team updated so they can offer customers a better service.
“For larger businesses, this involves the full integration of sales, CRM, online, social and premium publisher data for real-time insights and targeting,” says Jed Mole, European marketing director at technology company Acxiom.
“However, this has to be connected through secure environments that keep your customers’ data protected at all times, regardless of the amount of data you are dealing with” Jed Mole, Acxiom