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Upstream Data Quality in CRM Often Drives Downstream Operations

by Chris Martins, Product Marketing Manager, Trillium Software

Upstrea,Last month Trillium sponsored and spoke at a TDWI webinar entitled “Engaging the Business: Agile, Collaborative Approaches to Data Usability” (recording available here.) The webinar explored the need to build collaboration between IT and the line-of-business (LOB) in terms of data usage, given the increased availability of tools that empower the LOB to operate independent of IT. In the past, the LOB was compelled to work with IT because they needed the technical skills. Now, greater portions of the work can be done by the LOB itself, often with the use of the Cloud models that eliminate infrastructure requirements.

As a member of the [marketing] LOB, I’m generally an advocate for tools that empower me to do my job without dependence on IT and bureaucratic corporate policies. But I also recognize that such independence can spawn tactical data usage that does not get reconciled with the broader strategic, longer term requirements of the enterprise. Addressing a short term tactical project without the rigor of proper data governance (a rigor that anticipates “downstream” requirements) can get in the way of doing business the right way.

An example of such challenges can be found with some Trillium customers for whom we help solve data quality problems associated with the transition from sales to order management within a B2B CRM process. During the sales part of the CRM lifecycle, sales staff will naturally focus on things that are important to successfully closing a sale. In terms of accurate data about a prospect, the important contact information will be name, phone, and email address. Such contact data, along with information about the business, drives the sale, since you cannot sell if you cannot communicate. And those are the key communication points.

What about something like the prospect’s physical address? Early in most B2B sales processes, the physical address is not really important because it’s not how sales reps interact with their prospects. But sales processes that are inattentive to accuracy about physical addresses early in the customer lifecycle often find challenges later on with execution of their downstream operations. Often addresses and the specifics of physical location will matter in terms of credit inquiry, billing and shipping and provisioning your customer service system with the right contact information and locations.

So while a physical address may not be top priority for the “lead-to-close process”, it could be very important to the “order-to-cash” process that flows from it. Yet asking your sales staff to be attentive to address details for every lead and opportunity (just in case the deal closes) is likely a losing proposition. In those scenarios, integration of a data quality solution like Trillium’s can automatically populate the records within the CRM system with accurate location data. It can also manage the “householding” issues associated with having multiple physical addresses under a single account. Your sales staff is not bothered with the issue as it can be handled automatically by the technology.

CRM operations often serve as the front end to a lot of downstream operations. But expecting the LOB – in this case sales – to act as data entry clerks will not work. Leveraging integrated data quality solutions allows the necessary work to be done in an unobtrusive way, a way that preserves the seller’s focus on their job, while anticipating future needs. It’s a win-win proposition.

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