Over the last few months I have observed a variety of posts and discussions relating to managing data quality. I thought it might be interesting to discuss how we are using our own software to help drive data quality across our company. We are on a journey and I’d like to share our progress with you over the coming months. Our goal, like yours, is to deliver trusted, relevant and timely data to all parts of
Our journey starts with understanding what we are trying to do and why. As a marketer at Informatica I have two simple goals:
- To partner with sales and exceed revenue targets, and
- To raise the brand of Informatica within our target markets.
Infrastructure is critical in achieving these goals since it allows us to see what is going on in the outside world – specifically in relation to what our clients and prospects are doing. The online world is king and everyone will at some point come online to research and analyze solutions through the web. The important thing is to know who they are, and react quickly to help them. It is therefore critical that we have an effective infrastructure that seamlessly delivers a complete view of our customers and their interaction with us.
We are no different to many organizations – we use a variety of systems to help us deliver value to the business. Our infrastructure comprises a variety of different software products purchased over many years. We use an on-premise CRM system that is the backbone of our sales force automation. Our web infrastructure is built on Microsoft, our marketing infrastructure is an on-demand service provided by one of the leading marketing automation service providers and our support system is built using another enterprise software solution – in all we use four different solutions for our web, marketing, support and sales requirements. It is critical that we know who our clients are, what they have purchased, what they are interested in and that we know exactly who they are – in each of our systems! Several years ago we were aware of issues, but were the classic cobblers child – selling great solutions to our clients but not using them effectively ourselves. This had to change and so we started out on fixing our own systems through a five stage approach to driving data quality across these systems:
- Real-time data integration to ensure data gets where it is needed FAST
- Global sales search to help our sales teams SEARCH across all companies and contacts quickly and efficiently
- Company and contact MDM to deliver a GOLDEN key record of our customers across all our systems
- Global data entry forms to capture data correctly and with MINIMAL impact to the users
- Business-IT Collaboration to enable our business teams to CONTROL their own data without always needing to go to IT
Real-time data integration
Data collected across any of our systems forms the basis of a lead that passes through our infrastructure to our sales force system. Here any lead is processed by sales experts who try to contact the person and progress them, if possible, to a sales opportunity. So we have integrated our marketing system with our sales system. We have done the same to pull in data from our financial system and our support system. Our goal is to ensure that a lead reaches a salesperson within 15 minutes of being entered into any of our systems. We use our data integration software to achieve this synchronization of data between multiple systems. We also use instant chat on our web if people want to talk to us immediately.
Global Sales Search
We use our Identity Resolution software within our sales system to enable a sales person to query an account, or contact, using generic wild-cards and return quality results. Previously our wild-card searching was very basic – enter “DoD*” to bring back any record starting with DoD. Identity Reaolution changes all that – now, for example, someone can enter “DoD” and they will receive records that have the string “DoD’ within it, but also records relating to “Department of Defense” and other such terms from countries around
the world. (That’s a powerful, and incredibly easy, way to use identity resolution in an everyday application and can be applied to either on-demand or on-premise applications).
Company and Contact MDM
To help us drive data quality within our own systems we have built a Master Data Management hub using our software – specifically our data integration, data quality and identity resolution products. This is stunning because it now allows us to have a single record of the truth for all company and contact records. It serves as the golden key of our most critical piece of data – the human being we deal with. This MDM hub also serves as the intersection between our marketing and sales systems and ensures that our data is accurate. It will take feeds from various industry sources to ensure that company hierarchies are correct and is, in my opinion, the single most important system implementation to me as a marketer.
Global data entry forms
Our web forms are built using an on-demand marketing service and we tag every page of our web to allow us to track where people go across our web and what they look at. This provides us with an enormous amount of information relating to where people go, what they find useful and what they may be researching. We are currently in the process of re-engineering our forms to what are called “gated forms”. These allow us to ask for a minimal amount of information when a person first interacts with us, and then to ask additional
information on an ongoing basis as and when they come back. Our goal is to make the experience of the user seamless – we track what they are doing without them knowing it. The more they want to look at, the better. In addition we are looking to implement our Address Quality cloud service as a point-of-entry solution to help ensure that the data being entered into the system is as accurate as we can make it. Of course, re-engineering a ton of forms on the web takes time and this will be going live in the coming months.
As a business leader I understand that data quality is critical. However, I have never been in a situation where I can control it. Our business analysts use the Informatica Data Quality Assistant to profile our data and then work with IT to implement various rules to clean the data. One of the key capabilities of Informatica 9 that we recently launched will allow us to define those rules ourselves without requiring the assistance of IT. We are looking to implement this in production next year following the general availability of Informatica 9 next week.
We are moving forwards in our goal to become a data driven enterprise. It is a journey that we are asking our customers to follow. As such it is important that we have gone the same route and are able to help our customers achieve the same goal. We believe that data is the single most important asset any of us has and we are no exception.
Over the coming months I would like to share more about how we have implemented these solutions and how we are quantifying the contribution to our business. It’s all well and good to hear the talk – but to walk the walk is a different story. Join us in becoming a data driven enterprise by focusing on YOUR key asset and ensuring that you gain the most competitive value from timely, relevant and trustworthy data across your enterprise.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on these areas and any questions you may have.