The Pitfalls of Being a Data Hoarder (And the Steps to Recovery)

haatzama logoBy now, marketing teams understand that prospects want a personalized experience. They expect their interactions with a brand to be tailored to their wants and needs. A Dun & Bradstreet poll of 500 B2B professionals reported more than half of companies today use data to make marketing decisions.

Despite this growing majority, the most important objective for marketing professionals in 2019 is increasing the number of decisions made using data analysis, according to a 2018 Google Study. More than half of marketers expressed a desire to increase investment in analysis, business intelligence or Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the coming year.

Data-driven decision-making is something most marketers are doing today, but they’re making a concerted effort to bolster their investment in this arena in the year ahead. As teams set their 2019 plans in motion, they need to be wary of data-hoarding, as it will impede progress and prevent success.

Read More: Is Your Data Defined? Now Is the Time to Find Out

The Symptoms of Data-Hoarding

Data-hoarding is a major reason that companies fail to make data-driven decisions. Teams that hoard data are stressed out and not living up to their potential. Everyday processes become challenging, and lead goals, the opportunity pipeline and revenue suffer. Two symptoms may indicate you need to revise your approach to data governance.

Too Much Data

Of the marketers polled, 56 percent say they feel overwhelmed by the amount of data in their marketing technologies.

The amount of data we produce every day is truly mind-boggling. In 2017, IBM found that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data was being created every day, and with the rise of technology and automation, there’s no doubt that figure has grown exponentially. According to MarTech Advisors, we have access to more data and more intelligence on our mobile phones than the president of the United States had anywhere 15 years ago. Yet with all this data literally at our fingertips, we can become paralyzed and rely on emotion and instincts to make key business decisions.

The commonly used term to describe this phenomenon is “analysis paralysis.” When there’s just too much data to sift through, analysis is stopped before it even starts. In an attempt to get answers, more reports are produced and the amount of information quickly becomes unmanageable, making even basic KPIs hard to track.

Read More: Data Storytelling: An Emerging BI Tech You Can’t Miss in 2019

Bad Data

According to data experts at ZoomInfo, more than half of organizations rely on data that’s up to 40 percent inaccurate.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects an annual turnover rate of 30 to 40 percent in corporate America. With this much movement, it’s no wonder companies and even data providers are struggling to keep their data fresh. But with sales and marketing departments losing approximately 550 hours and as much as $32,000 per sales rep due to using bad data (MarketingSherpa), the cost seems too high to ignore.

While bad data has many disadvantages, the most significant is the decrease in confidence and trust. Many marketers don’t believe their data is complete or up to date, yet they continue to use it to pull lists and create segments. Not only do program results suffer, but too often this means sales teams are digging through duplicate information and battling incorrect phone numbers to follow up with leads.

A Road Map to Success

The root cause of data-hoarding is lack of a good data governance strategy. For many, the word “strategy” can feel like a big daunting project, but strategy is simply a plan of action. It provides boundaries and guidelines for decision-making.

Including these three components in your data governance strategy will help you avoid data-hoarding, help ensure your data has purpose, and help you make more confident decisions with your data.

Read More: Making Better Decisions with the Right Data

Centralize your Data

Today’s marketers want to leverage every tool at their disposal, yet many are paralyzed because of the state of their data. Modern technologies like AI or predictive analytics are only as impactful as the data sources feeding them. Consolidating data in one place is the best way monitor its quality and quantity.

The number of sources and volume of data aren’t going to stop growing. Each technology add to a marketer’s stack creates another source and notches up the volume a little more. Disparate data will cost you time, and to get the best insights, you’ll have to consolidate it. Maintaining a single-source of truth will enable you to extract timely and actionable insights.

Marketing is no longer the cost center it once was, and in the new era of accountability, we need a complete picture to make the best decisions. Centralizing data will get you there.

Collect Data You Can Act Upon

You may have heard the phrase “share insights, not just facts.” The key difference between the two is action. Organizations need to help others understand what the data is saying and what actions can be taken.

We had a client who regularly used three very full dashboards. In his mind, each had a purpose: one was for a monthly team meeting, another was used during his 1:1s with his team, and the third was presented at board meetings to show a macro view of activities and progress. All this sounds good in concept and purpose is important, but when asked, he couldn’t confirm what decisions were made with the data shown on each.

In order to be successful, it’s imperative to examine the data, reports and dashboards and ask what decisions you will make based on the data. Understanding the questions your organization needs to answer to guide their decisions will help you filter out the noise and focus on the data that’s most useful.

Read More: People-Based Marketing is Missing a Critical Element: Accurate Data

A Reminder For Success

It’s important to remember that data governance is iterative and ongoing. This gives you the freedom to create something today that you can continue to improve, but it also means that you shouldn’t create something once and ignore it until next year. Monthly and quarterly reviews will ensure that your strategy remains relevant.

When you’re ready, apply these steps and take inventory of your current data, reports and dashboards with an overarching governance strategy in mind. Remember, a single step in the right direction can create positive change, so identify where to focus and how to take the first step.

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