Data Dialogue: CareerBuilder Consolidates CRMs, Identifies Hierarchies and Provides Actionable Insight for Sales Enablement

Data Dialogue Logo Header

 

A Q&A with CareerBuilder’s Director of Sales Productivity  

CareerBuilder, the global leader in human capital solutions, has evolved over recent years to better meet marketplace demands. “We’ve moved from transactional advertising sales to a software solution, which is much more complex with a longer sales process and a longer sales cycle,” says Maggie Palumbo, Director of Sales Productivity for CareerBuilder.

With that, it is critical that the sales teams Palumbo works with must be armed not only with information on which accounts to target, but also with intelligence they can use to approach – and engage – the potential customer.

More, as they continue to expand globally, their need for consistent data and CRM consolidation has become a priority. Establishing one system whereby employees all see the same information better positions the company for continued global expansion through more informed decision-making.

We talked with Palumbo about how she has been leading this effort.

What are you focused on now as you look to your priorities moving forward?

In the past, we did not have much in the way of governance. We had loose rules and accounts ended up not being fully optimized. We’re focused now on better segmentation to figure out where we can get the best return.

We use tools from Dun & Bradstreet to help us accomplish this goal. Specifically, we rely on geographical information, SIC codes for industry, employee total and other predictive elements. Then we bring it all together to get a score that tells us which accounts to target and where it belongs within our business.

How do you make the information actionable?

We are unique in that we take the full D&B marketable file, companies with more than 11 employees, and pass it along to a sales representative. Some reps, those with accounts with fewer than 500 employees, have thousands of accounts. What they need to know is where to focus within that account base. Scoring and intelligence allows us to highlight the gems within the pile that may have otherwise been neglected. The reps at the higher end of the business have fewer accounts and require more intelligence on each account to enable more informed sales calls.

Because we’ve moved from a transactional advertising sales model to one based on software solutions, our sales process is now more complex. The reps need intelligent information that they can rely on as they adjust their sales efforts to this new approach.

How do you make sure you’re actually uncovering new and unique opportunities?

We’ve gone more in-depth with our scoring and now pull in more elements. We also work with third party partners who do much of the manual digging. With that, we’re confident that we’re uncovering opportunities others may not necessarily see.

How do you marry together the data with the technology?

When the economy went south, our business could have been in big trouble. We are CareerBuilder. For a business whose focus is on hiring, and you’re in an economy when far fewer companies are hiring, where do you go with that?

Our CEO is forward-thinking and already started to expand our business to include human capital data solutions. With that, it became clear that we needed to have standardized data, which we do via our data warehouse. Once the data is normalized and set up properly, it can be pushed into the systems. Pulling the information from different sources together into one record is the challenge. We use Integration manager for that; the D-U-N-S Number serves as a framework for how we segment our data and we rely heavily on that insight.

How does Dun & Bradstreet data help within your sales force?

Data we get from Dun & Bradstreet provides us with excellent insight. While the reps may not care about the D-U-N-S Number, per se, they do care about the hierarchical information it may reveal—particularly with the growth of mergers and acquisitions over the past few years.

What other aspects of your work with Dun and Bradstreet have evolved?

We are a global company, but we are segmented. As we move everyone across the globe onto one CRM platform, we are creating more transparency. That is our goal. In order for people within the organization to effectively partner with each other, they must see the same information, including hierarchical structure. D&B has helped us bring that information together and identify those global hierarchies.

Tell me more about how linkage has helped you.

We used to be all over the place, with multiple CRMs across the organization globally. Some were even homegrown. We also wanted to get a better view on hierarchies. We lacked insight of what was going on with a company across multiple companies and therefore couldn’t leverage that information. We had to bring it all together through linkage. We’ve made great progress in terms of the global hierarchy and global organizational structure, and we couldn’t have done it without D&B.

Parting Words

As CareerBuilder continues to grow globally and evolve as a company to meet customer needs and demands of the marketplace, aligning the sales process with actionable intelligence is critical to its forward-moving trajectory. “It’s all about fully optimizing the data that’s available to us so that we can focus our efforts on where we can get the most return for the company,” said Palumbo.

Breaking Down the Business Relationships in Breaking Bad

better-call-saul

 

How Saul Goodman Can Teach Businesses About the Value of Understanding Relationships

This week, TV viewers witnessed the return of Jimmy McGill, a scrappy and indefatigable attorney struggling for respect and reward. Spoiler alert: If you watched Breaking Bad, you know the upstart Albuquerque lawyer goes on to become Saul Goodman, the lawyer and adviser for eventual meth kingpin Walter White, or as he’s known on the street, Heisenberg.

Now in its second season, AMC’s hit show Better Call Saul shows the transformation of the naïve McGill into what would become one of the city’s most notorious criminal defense attorneys. But it doesn’t happen by chance. His ability to understand and manipulate relationships plays a huge role, something many businesses can learn a thing or two about. But before I proceed, if you have not not watched Breaking Bad, I implore you do so immediately. Go on, watch it now, and then come back and read this article, otherwise you’re going to be a bit lost.

In Breaking Bad we learn that Saul Goodman is a key player in Walter White’s evolution from everyday chemistry teacher to criminal mastermind, constantly getting him out of several sticky situations over the course of his drug business operations. Goodman is effective in helping Walt stay one step ahead of the police and competing drug czars because of his extensive connections within the criminal underworld, as well as serving as a go-between connecting drug distributors, evidence removers, impersonators, and other criminals-for-hire.

What makes Goodman so successful is his network of relationships. He knows all the players and how they are connected to others and uses that knowledge to his advantage. Ultimately, it’s what probably keeps him and his clients alive for so long. Other entities in the Breaking Bad world are not so lucky. Shotgun blasts and burning faces aside, I’m talking about the businesses that were ultimately crippled by the chain of events that were set off by Walter White’s maniacal obsession for power.

The Breaking Bad series finale shows us the fate of all the major characters, but what about everyone else that has some underlying connection to what went down?

We learned that Walt’s meth empire was funded by a multifaceted conglomerate headquartered in Germany called Madrigal Electromotive. According to Wikia, Madrigal is highly diversified in industrial equipment, manufacturing, global shipping, construction and fast food; the most notorious being the American fried chicken chain, Los Pollos Hermanos.

Founded by Gustavo Fring, the Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant chain had fourteen locations throughout the southwest and was a subsidiary of Madrigal. As we learned during the course of the show, the restaurant provided money-laundering and logistics for illegal activities. It’s safe to assume that following the death of its founder and his reported connection to engineering a billion-dollar drug empire, business suffered. Every enterprise that was directly doing business with the fried chicken chain likely cut ties with them as soon as the news broke. From the factory providing the meat to the manufacturer supplying the utensils, these businesses were aware that Los Pollos Hermanos would suffer and were able to plan in advance for a revenue downfall.

But what about the other suppliers that did not realize they were working with entities that had connections to Los Pollos Hermanos’ parent company? Madrigal is spread across 14 divisions, including a massive investment in fast food. The fast-food division, formerly run by Herr Peter Schuler, encompasses a stable of 7 fast-food eateries, including Whiskerstay’s, Haau Chuen Wok, Burger Matic, and Polmieri Pizza. Following the breaking news of the drug ring, the resulting investigation likely sent shockwaves throughout the entire Madrigal enterprise and subsequently hurt all of its businesses in some shape or form. But let’s look at the supplier of dough for Polmieri Pizza for example. Do you think they knew the pizza shop they do business with was a subsidiary of Madrigal and would be a casualty of the meth trade? Very unlikely.

Because Polmieri Pizza is a subsidiary of Madrigal, they will be at least indirectly effected. While its parent company will be in damage control – a change of management, a freeze on funds, etc. – the innocuous pizza shop will be impacted, even if it is only short term. During this time, the dough supplier has no clue to the grievous relationship the pizza shop has to Madrigal and that it should expect some change in how they work with the pizza eatery. If they had known there was any connection, they may have been able to plan ahead and cut down on production and accounted for less orders. Instead, they are caught by surprise and left overstocked and under water.

This could have been avoided if the dough manufacturer leveraged its relationship data. Every company has relationship data; they just need to know where to look for it, or who to partner with to obtain the right information.

Relationship data is information about two or more entities that are brought together along with their business activities to inform an implied business impact or outcome. Through a combination of interpreting the right signal data and implementing advanced analytics uncovered in this data, unmet needs arise, hidden dangers surface and new opportunities can be identified.

Of course, this is just an example of the importance of being able to recognize business relationships based on a fictional show. But not being able to do so could prove to be a grave reality for businesses of all shapes and form. If the companies with business connections to Madrigal’s vast enterprise had had a sense of relationship data, what would they have seen?

If you can take anything away from the Saul Goodman’s of the world, it is this: know how all your relationships are connected and you will know how to solve problems, manage revenue – and stay out of trouble.

4 Wishes Data-Inspired Leaders Want This Holiday

4 Wishes Data-Inspired Leaders Want This Holiday | D&B

4 Wishes Data-Inspired Leaders Want This Holiday | D&B

 

What Every Data-Inspired Leader Wants This Holiday

With the holidays in full swing, everyone is busy making their lists and checking them twice. But while electronics and toys routinely top the wish lists for most, the data-inspired leaders of the world have some unique desires that can’t easily be purchased from your favorite store.

Whether you’ve been naughty (online hookup site for married couples was breached by hacking outfit, The Impact Team, and the personal details of 37M users were made public, leaving many men sleeping on the couch) or nice (Data Science for Social Good, a program at the University of Chicago that connects data scientists with governments, is working to predict when officers are at risk of misconduct, with the goal of preventing incidents before they happen), chief data officers, data scientists and all data stewards want better and safer ways to do their jobs.

Instead of playing Santa and asking them to sit on my lap and tell me what they want for the holidays, I figured I’d simply share some of the top things we’ve heard on data leaders’ wish lists this year.

1. A Better Way to Find Truth in Data

Mark Twain famously said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” One of the biggest problems we’re faced with every day is trying to make sense of the data we have. In a perfect world the answer to all of our questions would lie smack dab in the data itself, but that’s not the case. The premise that data can get us closer to that single version of the truth is harder to achieve than first thought. But it hasn’t stopped us from trying to form conclusions from the data that is presented. Sometimes we rush to conclusions in the face of mounting pressure from others who demand answers.

What we really need is a source of truth to compare it to, otherwise it is very hard to know what the truth actually is. Unfortunately, that is often an impossible goal – finding truth in a world of ambiguity is not as simple as looking up a word in the dictionary. If you think about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which tragically disappeared in 2014, there were several conflicting reports claiming to show where the downed airline would be found. Those reports were based on various data sets which essentially led to multiple versions of proposed “truth.” Until they finally found pieces of the wreckage, searchers were looking in multiple disconnected spots because that was what the “data” said. But without anything to compare it to, there was no way to know what was true or not. This is just one example how data can be used to get an answer we wall want. This same thing happens in business everyday, so the takeaway here is that we need to stop rushing to form conclusions and try to first understand the character, quality and shortcomings of data and what can be done with it. Good data scientists are data skeptics and want better ways to measure the truthfulness of data. They want a “veracity-meter” if you will, a better method to help overcome the uncertainty and doubt often found in data.

2. A Method for Applying Structure to Unstructured Data

Unstructured data – information that is not organized in a pre-defined manner, is growing significantly, outpacing structured data. Experts generally agree that 80-85% of data is unstructured. As the amount of unstructured data continues to grow, so does complexity and cost of attempting to discover, curate and make sense out of this data. However, there are benefits when it is managed right.

This explosion of data is providing organizations with insights they were previously not privy to, nor that they can fully understand. When faced with looking at data signals from numerous sources, the first inclination is to break out the parts that are understood. This is often referred to as entity extraction. Understanding those entities is a first step to drawing meaning, but the unstructured data can sometimes inform new insights that were not previously seen through the structured data, so additional skills are needed.

For example, social media yields untapped opportunities to derive new insights. Social media channels that offer user ratings and narrative offer a treasure trove of intelligence, if you can figure out how to make sense of it all. At Dun & Bradstreet, we are building capabilities that give us some insight into the hidden meaning in unstructured text. Customer reviews provide new details on the satisfactory of a business that may not previously be seen in structured data. By understanding how to correlate negative and positive comments as well as ratings, we hope to inform future decisions about total risk and total opportunity.

With unstructured data steadily becoming part of the equation, data leaders need to find a better way to organize the unorganized without relying on the traditional methods we have used in the past, because they won’t work on all of the data. A better process or system that could manage much or all of our unstructured data is certainly at the top of the data wish list.

3. A Global Way to Share Insights

Many countries around the world are considering legislation to ensure certain types of data stay within their borders. They do this out of security concerns, which are certainly understandable. They’re worried about cyber-terrorism and spying and simply want to maintain their sovereignty. Not surprisingly, it’s getting harder and harder to know what you may permissibly do in the global arena. We must be careful not to create “silos” of information that undermine the advancement of our ability to use information while carefully controlling the behaviors that are undesirable.

There’s a method in the scientific community that when you make a discovery, you publish your results in a peer-reviewed journal for the world to see. It’s a way to share knowledge to benefit the greater good. Of course not all knowledge is shared that way. Some of it is proprietary. Data falls into that area of knowledge that is commonly not shared. But data can be very valuable to others and should be shared appropriately.

That concept of publishing data is still confusing and often debated. Open data is one example, but there are many more nuanced approaches. Sharing data globally requires a tremendous amount of advise-and-consent to do this in a permissible way. The countries of the world have to mature in allowing the permissible use of data across borders in ways that do not undermine our concerns around malfeasance, but also don’t undermine the human race’s ability to move forward in using this tremendous asset that it’s creating.

4. Breeding a Generation of Analytical Thinkers

If we are going to create a better world through the power of data, we have to ensure our successors can pick up where we leave off and do things we never thought possible. As data continues to grow at an incredible rate, we’ll be faced with complex problems we can’t even conceive right now, and we’ll need the best and brightest to tackle these new challenges. For that to happen, we must first teach the next generation of data leaders how to be analytically savvy with data, especially new types of data that have never been seen before. Research firm McKinsey has predicted that by 2018, the U.S. alone may face a 50% to 60% gap between supply and demand of deep analytic talent.

Today we teach our future leaders the basics of understanding statistics. For example, we teach them regression, which is based on longitudinal data sets. Those are certainly valuable skills, but it’s not teaching them how to be analytically savvy with new types of data. Being able to look at data and tell a story takes years of training; training that is just not happening at the scale we need.

High on the wish list for all data stewards – and really organizations across the globe, whether they realize it or not – is for our educational institutions to teach students to be analytical thinkers, which means becoming proficient with methods of discovering, comparing, contrasting, evaluating and synthesizing information. This type of thinking helps budding data users see information in many different dimensions, from multiple angles. These skills are instrumental in breeding the next generation of data stewards.

Does this reflect your own data wish list? I hope many of these will come true for us in 2016 and beyond. Until then, wishing you the very best for the holiday season…

I know what you do, but why do you do it?

Ted Talk logoBy Tariq Sharif, VP of Product & Partner Marketing at D&B

There’s a popular TED talk by leadership expert Simon Sinek that uses the concept of a golden circle. It explains that companies and people that start with the “why” and then move to the “how” and “what” are much more successful. When customers know why you do what you do, you build stronger and more meaningful client relationships. Think Apple or Nike. We don’t buy just because they sell computers and shoes, but because of what they stand for.

D&B’s new CEO Bob Carrigan and new CMO Rishi Dave are leading D&B’s charge to be much clearer about our “why”. And this translates to our partners as well. At a recent offsite of the D&B Partner Solutions team, we talked about our mission being more than a data provider to our partners. We recognize that customers go to our partners to make significant business decisions – and that is where our “why” comes in. We are here to provide data, yes, but more importantly to help customers draw the insight and foresight from that data to make better decisions.

The discussions we are having with our partners must always be centered on that “why”. Our mission is to work together with partners to come up with the best solution that provides customers clarity, confidence and convenience in a fast-changing business environment.

That’s a lot of c’s, I know. And here’s one more – collaboration. By collaborating with our partners, we present a better solution to customers.

 

Oracle’s Take on the Data Revolution


Storm for Oracle postI’ve been reading a lot of 2014 predictions posts lately, and one that  struck me recently is the latest from Mark Hurd, president at Oracle.

He touches on three of the most critical factors impacting every aspect of business today:

  • The explosive growth of data (Hurd estimates data is growing by 40% each year)
  • The influx of a younger, tech-dependent workforce
  • The new devices that are changing how and where work

Some people may call these trends, rather than factors, but the more important consideration is when these trends converge to create a tipping point, where data strategy becomes a top corporate priority.

The volatility and volume of data has always been a persistent problem – and is only getting worse. Companies are constantly trying to understand what data matters most, how to find and incorporate it into the systems already in use and most importantly how to keep it current, updated and usable. Marketing, sales, operations and the supply chain all face the same challenge.

While this may be considered old news, the most successful businesses are finally treating data for what it truly is: the backbone of any company.  That’s why Mark Hurd is asking CEOs to become champions for data:

“The necessary changes go right to the heart of the economics of IT strategy and traditions and will require sweeping new approaches; and, this new type of approach will require fresh and decisive thinking about viewing data as a highly valuable raw material that can be shaped into products and services that customers want and need.”

Hurd challenges the CEO to address these factors head-on, but it trickles down to every level and department of a business, too.  “Revolution” is a big word, after all – and change is never easy.  What new roles, process and priorities will be created to support this new world order remains to be seen.

But Oracle, SAP and Microsoft are leading the charge, helping businesses to rethink their systems and processes so they can excel in this new normal – one step at a time.

Photo credit katgrigg

Where Can Customer Insight Take You?

binocularsHow about straight to some pretty compelling business results?

Today, as the economic recovery picks up steam, it’s no wonder there’s a lot of emphasis being placed on the power that customer insight brings to the business process. Quality insight has significant and tangible benefits for the business, including

 

 

  • Sales cycle time reduced from 120 to 108 days
  • Customer retention rates increased by 4-5%
  • Day sales outstanding reduced to 2-3 days
  • Time required to resolve customer issues reduced by 3-5%

Marketing and sales executives understand that accurate, current and relevant insight into customers and prospects make a big difference in their effectiveness.  Getting it, however,  has been a lot like the quest for the Holy Grail. A lot of research for list vendors, a lot of sources saying they’ve got the answer, a lot of money spent on what promises to be the solution, and a lot of disappointment in the results.  The challenge is real—the Sales and Marketing Institute and D&B estimate that more than 95% of email addresses and contact data within customer files and customer relationship management (CRM) systems are partially inaccurate.  The rate of change in customer information is daunting; every 30 minutes

  • 120 business addresses change
  • 75 telephone numbers change
  • 15 company names change
  • 10 businesses close
  • 20 CEOs leave their job

The question then becomes is it really possible to get accurate customer insight in front of all stakeholders who could act on the information: marketing, sales, customer service, finance and more?

Yes. Absolutely, unequivocally, yes. Savvy chief marketing officers (CMOs) are asking their CRM vendors:

  • Where is the data coming from?
  • What processes are used to ensure quality, accuracy and relevance?
  • What specific data is included?
  • Is the information updated in real-time?
  • Can we score/sort/filter the data with preferences specific to our needs?

With the right insight into customers and prospects—complete, relevant, pervasive—all at your teams’ fingertips, so much more can be accomplished.  Knowing which customers to pursue, engaging them with relevant information on their industries and their own conditions makes every effort more effective.

What are you doing to make customer insight the engine that drives your business?

At the very least, make sure your CRM has access to on-demand customer and prospect data so that you have the most current and accurate information to meet your goals.

Photo credit Dana Beveridge.

Is the Elevator Pitch Dead? (Answer: No, It’s Just Moved to Video)

Elevators high tech SingaporeFolks in sales and marketing who have been around a while know the value of an elevator pitch, that quick 50 word summary that describes precisely what you or your company does. It’s the message that is considered “sticky”, something memorable to your audience.  While live elevator pitches are necessary for some audiences – like the VC sitting across from you at a Speed Venture (dating) event – the reality is that the world is too noisy for people to listen. Case in point: when you literally ride an elevator, most of the people in it are too engrossed in their phones to make time for friendly chit-chat.

While de rigueur for an in-person meeting, traditional elevator pitches aren’t effective for the majority of your audience, since they’re interacting with your website on their computer or smart phone. These days, with mobile and entertainment being “everything”, companies are making their elevator pitch in video form, perfectly packaged for consumption on lunch breaks, during quick product research online, on public transport, during a boring conference call or, yes, even on an elevator.  A video can blow the doors off any buzzword-laden 50 word description that’s ever been read or written to date. Quick video content can convey more information about you or your product line than the average prospect would gather from an hour of reading your website.

How compelling is video?  Let’s just say that people are starving for content and marketers are happy to serve up that little visual bump to get them through the day.  According to eMarketer, the growth in digital video production in the US is around $4.15 billion this year, up 43.5% since last year where it sat at a meager $2.89 billion in spend.   They also found that 72% of consumers researched a product more fully after seeing the video. And recently, Facebook  announced new video ads that allow auto-play video in the News Feed as, “…a way to make videos more engaging on Facebook”.

We at D&B are participating in this growing market, too. Our awesome product marketing team has created a new tool for our CRM sales partners, a co-brandable promotional video to amplify and support their efforts in selling D&B360 for CRM.  While a 50 word elevator pitch could describe the product, the video communicates much more than words.

We like how this turned out, but we’d like to hear what you think. Are you seeing the value of D&B360 here? Partners, how can you use this is in your marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

D&B and Dreamforce 2013: The Force of Innovation and Customer Engagement

Dreamforce logo squareDreamforce is Salesforce.com’s annual customer conference in San Francisco and the largest conference in the software industry, attracting over 130,000 attendees this year. Salesforce has always leveraged this event to engage its rapidly growing customer base and showcase its innovation—this year did not disappoint on either front.

Salesforce reinforced two key themes at the conference: First was the “Internet of Customers,” referring to the mobile and social nature of their customers and the solutions they consume. Second was a reinforcement of the company slogan “Sell, Service, Market, Succeed” that refers to the key Sales, Marketing, and Service cloud components of their product platform.

The keynote address by CEO Marc Benioff focused on the new product platform called Salesforce1. This is a unified platform that combines and integrates the Sales, Service and Marketing cloud solutions and provides them to the developer community through Platform-as-a-Service. The capability includes APIs and App developer tools that let corporate and third party developers quickly and easily customize and personalize Salesforce platform capabilities for their specific needs. The mobile theme was pervasive throughout the session. Salesforce1 represents the most powerful cloud-based solution in the Sales, Marketing and Customer Service markets delivering critical capabilities in an easy cloud based solution.

Salesforce customers feel strongly connected to the company and serve as brand evangelists. This is reflected in the customer sessions where the attendance and engagement levels are extremely high, and in the fact that they attract both technical and non-technical attendees. Customers also seem to embrace the culture of the company, including its social and non-profit involvement. Salesforce follows a 1:1:1 model – donating 1% of Equity, 1% of profits and 1% of employees’ time towards non-profit and community programs. This program was pioneered by Salesforce in its early years and is now a cornerstone of a number of Silicon Valley IPOs.

What does this mean for us at D&B? Salesforce.com is a key strategic partner for D&B as part of our Data.com partnership, and we had strong representation across multiple panel sessions and key speaking engagements. As Salesforce.com evolves and grows their solutions and customers, we at D&B will enable that growth by providing insight customers need to grow their own businesses. Customers are taking note of the partnership and are learning how they can benefit from it. As adoption of the Data.com solution grows among Salesforce customers, we have the opportunity to reach many new customers and serve our joint customers in unique ways.

View the keynote about Data.com by Data.com SVP & GM Andy MacMillan here.

Harnessing Big Data for Informed Business Decisions

Big Data Infographic for blogWith expectations high for the value that can be delivered by ‘big data’, companies are investing in solutions that can turn those ambitions into realities – more customers, lower costs, less risk and more. A recent report from Gartner found that 64% of organizations surveyed have already purchased or are planning to invest in big data solutions in 2013, compared with 58% in 2012. Of that 64%, 30% have already invested in big data tech, 19% plan to invest within the next year and another 15% plan to invest within two years.

But are they using what they’ve built? Not so much: Less than 8% of Gartner’s 720 respondents, however, have actually deployed big data technology.  The reasons for the slow implementations are the usual ones I suspect: cultural barriers to applying analytics; internal feuding over who owns the data; lack of skills and internal disagreement of how to measure the ROI.

Before you invest in a big technology – or if you have already and need to put it to work – here are four basic rules that can help you get what you want.

Rule #1: Figure out what business challenge you are trying to solve with all this information. For example, do you want to:

  • Target your customer base more effectively?
  • Optimize retention strategies?
  • Understand where risk in your customer or supplier portfolio lies – and reduce it?

Rule #2: Tear down the silos of information to create a single source of truth about customers, prospects and suppliers.  One executive at D&B often talks about a company he’s worked with that has 140 different systems for collecting customer, sales and supplier information!? These disparate databases exacerbate the disconnects between departments and build obstacles to problem-solving and opportunity-capturing instead of accelerating both as intended.

Rule #3 Use what you already have. According to a ZDNet/D&B survey conducted of close to 600 organizations in early 2013, more than 75% track operational data from finance, ERP, CRM and other internal applications, while close to 45% track transactional data such as sales, queries, etc.  Odds are good that you already have a lot of insight into what you want to know. Applying rules #1 and #2 will help you get what you want out of it.

Rule #4 Integrate third party insight with your internal resources. The same survey found that less than 30% of respondents use data-as-a-service to enhance and validate their own information and add value to day-to-day business decisions. Odds are very good that your internal data is stagnant, and by augmenting internal information with external sources to ensure accuracy and relevance, you overcome the vulnerabilities caused by “dirty data.”

No matter what you are looking for from big data, these guideposts will help you navigate the selection, implementation and activation of your solution. You’ll get what you need much more quickly and less expensively, and with whole lot less aggravation—and isn’t that what breakthrough innovation is supposed to bring us?

(To see the full Informed Perspective infographic, click here.)

Big Data, Big Buzz: What You Really Need to Know

data blocks

Is big data such a big deal? Wondering if there’s more buzz than beef behind the noise?

Truthfully, for many businesses, ‘big data’ is a problem. The massive data sets are complex, unwieldy and can become the focal point of internal battles about who owns the responsibility to bring them under control.  And ‘big data’ is only going to get bigger.

The explosion is being driven by our seemingly insatiable desire for more information from more sources. Savvy organizations know there’s a gold mine of information about customer preferences, piques and peeves to be found in social media, warranty information and customer service feedback – most captured anecdotally and all unstructured.   There’s data now collected based on sensor technology that can tell you where a product is located, how well it is performing, if the temperature is safe, etc. There’s the structured data we all know and love – forms, contracts, purchase orders – that live in our databases and is easier to manage, at least in theory.  Less so now, but arriving fast on the scene, is audio and video data captured from phone conversations, meetings and other live interactions.

It’s no wonder we’re drowning in data. The questions we all have to answer are what data matters to us, where can we find it and how can we be sure it is the best possible resource for us. The good news is that there are strategies that can help determine which data you collect, shape and manage.

And that will be covered in our next post.