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Data Dump

How does your business avoid creating a ‘data dump’?

Sure, you spend a lot of money on technology so you can capture data with the hope and intent of leveraging that data and making better, more informed data-driven decisions.

But in reality, many businesses don’t know what they have or how to access it, let alone leverage it so they can utilize it in various ways.

So my initial recommendation is “…don’t buy what you really can’t use…”

In the past year, I have met some very good marketing communications directors that get writing, design, brand standards, color palettes, fonts…but they don’t get technology or data.  Yet they have been responsible for making the purchasing decision for CRMs and marketing automation technology that has run 5 to 6 figures – and they readily admit that they don’t know how to maximize the investment and/or leverage the technology.

And they don’t have the budget to hire someone that does get the technology and data, or train current employees so that they develop that needed skill set within the business.

So they are stuck with really expensive 3×5 card systems.  (That’s a shout out to my fellow old timers that remember Rolodex.)

What’s the answer?

Personally, I am a huge fan of working with the CIO and getting a solution that fits with goals and objectives of the organization.  That said, I have worked with several CIOs that are first class jerks on a personal power trip so this option doesn’t always work.

And when that option doesn’t work, I make sure I gather a lot of data on my own so I can get input from experienced people that can help me.  That might be a service provider.  It might be a potential employee.  But I ask around and get referrals and introductions.  I have lots of breakfasts, lunches and coffees – not for fun but for education.  I ask a lot of questions, listen and ask more questions.

Then I put together a budget that includes the technology and the expertise necessary to use it properly.  I bring in solution providers for presentations and I make sure I include key members of my own organization so that I hear feedback (for and against) from leaders in key areas that may be impacted.

But what I have never done is buy something and not include training and support or someone with the expertise to handle the technology on a regular basis.  When I have been responsible for CRM and marketing automation technology, I made sure we had a full-time tech/administrator.  And when the workload got too much, I made sure we had some budget room for hiring consulting firms that helped with vision, planning and (some) implementation.

Cost money? Yeah.  But this stuff isn’t free.  Isn’t supposed to be free.  So deal with it.  And if your business can’t (or won’t) properly invest in the resources it needs to compete…you really do need to think long and hard about whether or not your business should be in business.

Harsh?  Sorry, but reality can be extremely harsh.  But when you have a [ex] $20 million business and you’re projecting 20% annual growth but aren’t investing in the resources necessary to make that happen…remember not to point your finger at your employees because when you do that, you have 3 fingers pointing back at you.  (That means the failure is your fault.)

So how do you make sure that your business is gathering the right data in order to answer the right questions so you can make the right decisions?  How are you investing in the right resources you need – human, technology – to achieve you goals and objectives?  What do to make sure your business – and staff – has what is needed to improve performance?

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