Skip to main content

Formulating a strategy to better manage customer data

Rachel Wheeler Archive

As companies across all industries seek to uncover better practices for information management and data quality, they often find that the "silo problem" is one of the most frustrating challenges they face. Organizations deploy data across a wide range of different functions, including external efforts like marketing and internal ones like human resources, and it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page.

There's a growing sentiment that in the big picture, corporate leaders need to change their approach to data management. It's not about making small tweaks - at this point, it's matter of reenvisioning the process, starting over from scratch and finding a way to better organize operations. To make silos a thing of the past, companies need to put data in everyone's hands collectively.

According to TechTarget, the silo problem is a difficult one to fix because it's been building in complexity for a long time. Mike Gualtieri of Forrester Research explained that a dramatic overhaul is now necessary.

"Customer data silos are bad," Gualtieri stated. "We all know how it gets to that point: years of building requirements on top of requirements, the creation of business and technology stovepipes, and the lack of a clear customer data strategy. The resulting hodgepodge of databases, applications and systems leads to business process workarounds that limit the ability of a business to move forward as fast as it wants to."

Specifically, here are three steps that need to be taken:

Identifying stakeholders
To overhaul their approach to data, the first thing companies need to do is identify who should have the strongest hand in it. No one person or department should have complete autonomy over data - that's how silos happen - but it is important for the most influential stakeholders to be in charge. From there, data can be disseminated from the top down.

Assessing needs
Perhaps the most important thing companies need to do to stay on top of data? Figure out why they're using it. Is it a matter of increasing sales numbers, or improving customer service? In any event, businesses should figure out their reasons for managing data, which should influence every action they take.

Finding new strategies
Then, it's time to formulate ideas for strategic options. According to Gualtieri, the endgame here is to come up with a plan that "must provide your business with quick and complete access to all of the customer data and analytics it needs, both now and in the near future." If you can figure out how, your company should be ahead of the game.