In the movie Ocean’s 13, Danny Ocean and his crew plot to rip off a new Vegas casino by foiling the state-of-the-art computer server and biometric gathering system, the “Greco”. The Greco analyzes exabytes of data in real time to determine if wins in the casino are expected, or indeed a surprise. The movie came out in 2007, so the concept and term “big data” has been around for years. Harvard Business Review recently named the career Data Scientist “the sexiest job of the 21st century.”
Let’s face it: every company wants to make sense of larger, more complex data sets. A handful of entities have mastered, monetized, and transformed it into actionable insights (Amazon, Google). However, chances are your organization isn’t quite ready. Here’s why.
Most organizations have data strewn across a multitude of platforms, controlled by dozens of individuals or teams, and without any planning or standardization. Many organizations are data hoarders; they simply want to collect and aggregate data but have no idea what to do with it.
Where to start? First, take a step back.
Invest the time, money, and effort in planning a “source of truth” system.
1. Look at your “small data.” Either hire a company that specializes in tech stack analysis or conduct your own. Be thorough. Leave no stone unturned and collect info on all of your data sources, storage methods, de-duping, and consolidation practices. Is the data structured in a way that can be normalized across your systems? Does it require normalization?
2. Examine the functionality of the platforms/systems you use. (According to chiefmartec.com, the average enterprise uses 91 cloud-based applications at any given time.) Are there functional overlaps? Do/can the systems integrate with one another? Do your employees, teams, departments, etc. even know what platforms are being utilized, and for what?
3. Consider where your business is realistically going in the next three to five years (less than three years is not a strategic evaluation; more than five is not realistic given the acceleration in technology and changes in market and business climate). What types of data are/will be necessary to fuel the growth you anticipate? What functional initiatives are you planning?
4. Based on these three evaluations, select a “source of truth” system. Think of your source of truth system as the one that houses a majority of your data, and which will integrate with other systems for specific functionality. It’s your “go-to” system that will be able to access or connect to your most up-to-date data. (There are some minor distinctions between “source of truth” systems vs. “single source of truth” systems vs. “system of record”, but we’ll use them interchangeably here.)
Your source of truth system may take on one of many forms: CRM, ERP, AMS, etc., but the concept is the same. Build not only a technology ecosystem but a plan for how to deploy, nurture, and grow it. Select a system that is right for you. Consider the cost of not only the software licenses for your users but an adequate cost to build/configure it and to migrate your data properly. Even if you are paying an outside organization to perform the build and migration, count on allocating some significant internal resources to the project. After all, your team knows their processes and where all the spreadsheets, etc. are kept that may be relevant. Chances are that information exists in their heads, or maybe on their individual laptops where it is siloed off from the rest of the organization.
Be realistic about your organization’s ability to manage change in systems and processes. Many CRMs, for example, are extremely robust and capable of almost limitless integrations and automation. No need to buy a Porsche when a Chevy will do. However, just make sure you won’t need that Porsche two years down the road.
Some data and functionality classifications to think about when constructing your technology ecosystem plan:
- Customer data
- Prospect data
- Sales functionality
- Call center; inbound calling
- Outbound call automation
- Market AI and smart sales tech
- Quoting & proposals
- Marketing automation
- Email outreach and analytics
- Lead scoring models
- Drip campaigns
- Email integration
- Help desk
- Content aggregation, cataloging
- Orders, invoices, financials, accounting
- Tools that are specific to your vertical
It is unlikely you have or will need “the works”. And, you can certainly take a layered approach to change, deployments, growth, etc. Again, the key is a well-considered plan to pick your source of truth and branch out from there.
In closing, the planning, effort, and money spent now to get your small data house in order will result in positioning you for growth, acquisition, and market changes in the near term. And who knows? Perhaps you’ll be ready to take on big data initiatives and hire all the data scientists.
We’ll dig deeper into these components in future blogs.
Need help with analyzing and/or planning your technology ecosystem?
Measured Results Marketing can help you through every step of the process. Contact us today to talk about your CRM needs.