Software supermarkets or specialized vendors?

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Some customers are worried about the complexity of the data quality challenges. Understandable, since they can hear about a lot of projects that has failed. There are several reasons for this. An important factor is using right tool. If you want to get a nut to loosen from a bolt, you might use several tools.

Some use pliers, almost a sure failure.  Others use an adjustable wrench.  This might work, but if it is not tight enough, there is a big possibility that the nut will be rounded and suddenly will become very hard to get off. It will create a lot of extra work, and the bolt cannot be reused.  If you use the correct wrench, the nut will come off, and it can be reused.

Let me transfer this to the Data Quality world.  Way back I was approached by a prospect.  They had a MDM project had hit the wall.  They had spent over a year so far.  They had used all the products from the Microsoft Enterprise Supermarket, and built some elaborate business rules together with external consultants.  In this way they had found about 23% of duplicates.  Their problem was that they could see there were more, but they could not catch them.  They sent the data over, and a couple of days later we could send the results back, with an additional 27% of duplicates on the cleansed data.  This shows me the power of specialized tools.

This is the result from Google when I searched for Data Quality Tools

There are some great software supermarkets out there.  These often offer excellent and good products.  Customers often want as few vendors as possible, and one stop shopping if possible.  You will get special competence on this vendor’s product, and can be cost efficient.  One challenge with this strategy is that you might miss out on a special product that can be critical for your success. An example: Gartner estimates that 50% of CRM/ERP installations fail, due to poor data quality and integration.

Data might be the most important asset in your company; don’t you want the best available product to handle this precious asset?  If I had the king over for dinner, and I knew that it was a 50% chance of failure if I used the meat from the supermarket,  I would definitely go to the best butcher in town.  90% of the purchase would be in the Supermarket and the lat 10 from specialized vendor.  One thing does not exclude the other.

These challenges is not only in the Data Quality field, but is as much present in the e-Commerce world.

Is Google paving the way for actual CRM/ERP Search?

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Since 1992 CRM has been a big help in structuring my sales. A consisting challenge I’ve had with various CRM systems, was to find the customer in the system. I might have heard the customer’s name wrong, spelled it wrong, did typos, or my search with *.* did not work.  Frustrating, since I knew the customer was in there.

Most CRM systems will only find the customer if you do exact and correct searches

It was even more frustrating when I worked in a big computer company, and my coworkers entered my customer with slightly different spelling, and stole my commission.

When you do not find the customer, you enter them again and the Data Quality mess starts:

–          Wrong reports and predictions

–          Frustrated workers

–          Frustrated customers

–          Higher cost, lower conversion rates and your image take a hit.

3 years ago I predicted that search would become an important part of the CRM. With an error-tolerant search, you could find your customer instantly. I was wrong then, but finally the trend is here.  This year I have already have had several inquiries about CRM search.

Google is transforming CRM Search

Google has transformed the way we use the web the last 10 years.  We now automatically go to the search box, to find the information we want.  Not only on the world wide web but also:

–          In online shops

–          Intranets

–          Onsite search on government sites

–          Facebook has moved its search in center, acknowledging this is the best place.

“Our employees are so frustrated that they cannot find the information in the CRM system” is the reason I hear when they contact me for better CRM search.

I think we will see this in the future of CRM search:

–          One central search box, that search across all fields

–          Will be error tolerant

–          Have suggest feature, to help you complete the search

–          Will be connected to external vendors to automatically import customers if it is not already in the CRM system.

You can see my CRM Search Checklist here, and a demo video I have made about the future features of the CRM Search.

Most poor data is created in the data entry phase. With a good search and registration system, this can be minimized. A

Do you agree with my view on the CRM Search future?

Checklist for search in CRM/ERP systems.

It is estimated that 76% of poor data is created in the data entry phase.  Mostly this is due to the fact that the operators simply cannot find the customer, supplier or product.  If you enable the operators to find the record, you will instantly get better data quality.

I have made a checklist of what efficient search for CRM/ERP should be able to handle. You can find the checklist here.

You can also read more about CRM and Data Quality here.

10 Critical questions to ask when you implement CRM

I came across an interesting article called: Saving CRM: Creating a data quality program by Douglas Ross.  Mr Ross is Douglas Ross, VP & CTO, Western & Southern Financial Group, so it’s from a users point of view, and not a vendor.  This is a well pointed article I urge everybody to read.

The most interesting part of the article is the list of 10 Questions you should ask before you start the project.  I have listed them here.

1. Have the benefits of improved data quality been defined for and agreed upon by the senior executives in the business?
2. Has the organization defined architectural standards for data, the relationships between data items, and requirements for data usage including those levied by the audit, regulatory, and compliance areas?
3. Does the organization measure data quality and strive for continuous improvement using agreed upon metrics, scorecards, and dashboards?
4. Are data-entry personnel equipped with tools to help enter clean data into the target systems?
5. Are there formal data stewardship roles, and are the related processes well-defined?
6. Do the systems you intend to integrate all support a universal, immutable customer identifier?
7. Do the target systems support all the necessary data elements and the actual relationships between products, people, accounts, and employees?
8. Do the target systems cooperate with one another to maintain data integrity, or do they “fight it out” and overwrite one another’s information from time to time?

9. Has the organization undertaken a bulk cleanup project to cleanse or rationalize legacy data?
10. Does the IT organization understand the benefits of clean data in driving improved business results?

If you answered “no” to nine or more questions, you’re in the same boat with a lot of other organizations.

I hope these questions will be mandatory for future implementations.

Read the article here.

Put a Data Quality Backbone in your CRM system.

It has become widely accepted that Data Quality is the main reason for CRM failure:

“Without clean data, there is no CRM. Poor data quality can lead to serious business problems.” – is quoted from an Article called “Avoid the pitfalls of poor data quality” in cxoamerica.com

“If there is no standard of quality for data, a CRM system becomes useless” – is quoted fromblog called Poor Data Quality = CRM Failure based on this article in BTOBonline

“Dirty Data can jeopardize your CRM” – an article in itworld.com

“most executives are oblivious to the data quality lacerations that are slowly bleeding their companies to death,” – is quoted from an article called Data quality: ‘The cornerstone of CRM‘ in Computer world

“The simplest systems can deliver amazing results if they operate on clean data.”  – is quoted from the article “The Bane of CRM – Data Quality

Gartner estimates that 50% of CRM implementations fail.

Here is an efficient way of securing your Data Quality Backbone:

Omikron Data Quality Server has through several implementations proved to be the backbone of several successful CRM systems. With it’s 2 core modules it secures that your operatives find their customers, and that the data stays clean and up to date. With SOA it’s a flexible and easy to integrate solution.

Module 1: Find your customers easy, fast and intelligent with FACT-Finder Address-Search

Most duplicates are created in the data entering phase, because the operators don’t find the existing customers. Most systems have search/duplicate checks, but they are not very efficient and return few hits. If you are able to find your customers, you have solved a major part of the problem.

FACT-Finder is Europe’s Market leading search- and navigation engine for online shops. We use the same technology in our FACT-Finder Address Search to search in your CRM system. Fact Finder Address-Search is:

  • Error tolerant
  • Quick
  • Language independent
  • Easy to navigate in the results
  • Easy to integrate

The illustration shows how the DQS works and communicate with CRM and ERP systems.

Module 2: Always a clean database with DQS Duplicate Check

DQS Duplicate Check will ensure that your database(s) are up to date. It can

  • cleanse your data for duplicates and can enrich them with reference data every day
  • match and consolidate the data across several databases and systems
  • monitor the data entry phase to detect where poor data quality is initiated

Additional Modules for Data Quality Server
Data Quality Server is module based. Here are some of the other modules:

  • Sanction List Comparison
  • E-mail verification
  • Telephone Number Plan verification
  • Gender Assignement
  • Postal Correction
  • Data Enrichement

You can read more about Omikron Data Quality Server in this electronic brochure or on the webpage.

Is Data Quality as Sexy as Intestinal Medicine?

This weekend I was to a dinner with the Queens Heart Surgeon.  We talked about the hierarchy of surgeons, where he is at the top, Brain Surgeons is at 2nd and Intestinal Surgeons are at the bottom.  He is at the top because he literally holds life and death in his hands, whereas Intestinal Surgeons just has a shitty job.  Even though it’s unpleasant for the patients, they can learn to live with it, and it’s seldom lethal. 

After being to some Conferences and Meetings about BI and MDM, I ask myself:  Isn’t this how it is presumed to be in the IT world?  The big BI and DW vendors and integrators struts their charts and reports and show how important they are to the businesses and imposes as Heart Surgeons.  They claim that Data Quality is something you can take on the fly and want to project it as Intestinal Medicine.

Shouldn’t it be the other way around?  Gartner predicts that 50% of DW and CRM projects will fail, and the single most important reason is poor Data Quality.   It seems like it is the Data Quality Operators that are holding the life or death of these projects in their hands!

So from now on Data Quality Operators are compared to Heart Surgeons, and OK, I’ll give it to the big BI and DW vendors and integrators; they can be Brain Surgeons, a good 2nd in the hierarchy. 🙂 

4 Steps to insure CRM Data Quality

 I stumbled across this article from Destinationcrm.com called ROI – How to ensure CRM Data Quality.   There are som very good advice here.  I will do a short summary of the 4 steps here.

  1. Reduce Multiple Master Records – The biggest enemy of data cleanliness is the redundant record, which disperses and obscures valuable information about a customer throughout the enterprise.
  2. Don’t Abandon Eyeballs – Automation plays a key role in any data cleanup, but human judgment is still vital.
  3. Reduce Overlap Whenever Possible –  Once you have a better handle on the true identity and nature of your clients, use that knowledge to reduce redundant communications that don’t add value
  4. Practice Continual Cleaning –  Clean data does not stay clean of its own volition. Your organization will need to take ongoing steps to ensure that redundancies, errors, and inefficiencies do not work their way back in.

On my own account I might have added nr. 5.  Find your customer.  If the sales representatives don’t find the customer they will enter a duplicate.  Omikron Data Quality Server is the best tool on the market to solve this with the market leading error tolerant search technology FACT-Finder Address-Search.  In addition Data Quality Server will also solve step number 4.