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BizReport : Advertising : September 10, 2015

Brands: How to deal with multiple data silos

According to one new report about half of brands are stymied by the vast amount of data available to them. Data that should make their job simpler is instead making it harder for brands to connect with their customers. One expert offers advice for better dealing with data.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What is it about data that is so hard for many businesses?

Jessica Stephens, CMO, SmartFocus: Data has extended across just about every nook and cranny the digital domain can cover, and it's proliferating at an ever surging rate. It's easy for brands to struggle with data overload and simply not know where to start in order to glean useful insights. More often than not, data is stored in too many places, and connecting all the activity across various channels and departments for analysis presents an incredibly massive undertaking. Lack of proper analytics can also pose an obstacle to assessing a "whole story" view of business activity, limiting feedback about ROI, optimization, and thwarting a progressive digital experience.

Kristina: How can businesses get better at handling multiple data silos?

Jessica: In order to get a handle on multiple data silos, you have to know what you're dealing with. This may sound obvious, but many businesses don't have an inkling as to what kind of data is coming from where. To avoid this black hole of data chaos, you can start by creating an inventory of all of your data sources that reveal information about your customers' identities, behavior, and activity profiles. This typically involves purchase history data, CRM data, marketing activity data, eCommerce data, and social data, among others. Next, it's usually smart to make an incremental investment in customer analytics. Whether you choose to tackle this step with an off-the-shelf application or an in-house system, the end result should be a list of customer segment definitions that the whole company can agree on and that you will measure over time. Perhaps the most important part of this whole process is to define what you're seeking and then proceed accordingly before wading through colossal piles of data.

Kristina: Is there a way to condense these silos into a single place that makes it simpler for businesses to understand what they are seeing?

Jessica: When you're talking about individual data silos, most systems are made up of their own internal set of codes. This makes it pretty much impossible to simply import and combine data into one entity. The most headache-free way of funneling them all into one warehouse is to employ a data mapping tool that can function as a unified platform for processing, organizing, and analyzing all of that disparate data. Ultimately, the management of large data sources is a job best suited for technology. Whether that technology ends up being a big data tool or management platform (or both), a clear data strategy aligned with business objectives will facilitate insights that are actually of service to your business.

More from Jessica and SmartFocus tomorrow, including the top 3 tips to handle multiple data silos.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: data analysis tips, data collection tips, data silos, SmartFocus

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