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What is the now?

Previously, we discussed the history of data, where to find it, and the difference between data and information. If you missed it, you can find it here. The next steps are to talk a bit more about what you can implement today to prepare for the future. We’re talking about financial services insight.

What is data inventory?

Often businesses will store customer data in a spreadsheet software like Excel, use website analytics tools like Google Analytics, and leverage digital advertising using platforms like Google Adwords or Facebook Ads. Understanding where your data lies is the first step in creating actionable business intelligence.

Similar to taking an inventory of product, knowing where you are creating and storing data is the first step in making your business data driven. Creating a spreadsheet or a list of the known sources of data is a good start. This should be updated as you add or find data sources. As extra homework you should decide on who should manage and access each data source.

Once you have this data inventory completed you can start to focus on opportunity areas within your business. You may find that your business is not capturing or missing specific pieces of data. More about that below.

Creation, Storage, and Access.

Previously we recommended a spreadsheet to take an inventory of your data sources. This is not always a great way to store functional data on an ongoing basis.

One of the first places a business can improve their data is through the use of a CRM. Moving from storing customer data in a spreadsheet to using a full fledged CRM is often a great place to start on your journey to data intelligence. There are a number of cost effective options and scalable solutions from companies like Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive, and many others. These offer the ability to report on multidimensional data and measure changes over time.

Finding the right CRM can be a challenging task. You should pick a customizable CRM that fits your budget and has the ability to scale as your grow. A good CRM will be able to connect with other third party software. Software like email marketing platforms, giving you even more insight on your customer. It is important to note that you should pick a platform that allows you to set security standards to ensure that your team has access to what they need while ensuring you are protecting the integrity of your data.

Your CRM is only one part of your data storage. This process holds true for your website and storing everything from your website content to customer documents and records. Knowing you have a process in place and a firm understanding of where your information exists means you’re always making the most informed decision you can.

Are you missing something?

Incomplete data is a problem that doesn’t age well. Without developing best practices and ensuring team adoption, data integrity gets harder to manage. The impact of this turns incomplete data into inaccurate information.

If you find that your customer data is often inaccurate it might be a good time review your data best practices. Data integrity is an ongoing process. As a result, keeping this information up to date will help you maintain your relationship with your customers.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to data management best practices. Therefore, a good place to start is to update your data as soon as you receive new information (such as email bounces or disconnected phone numbers), and to check all data at least once per year.

Data is not immune to sunk costs. Sometimes you will need to cut ties with specific pieces of data to ensure the integrity of the rest of your system. Data, and the process surrounding data, should be objective and without bias (as much as possible). Old leads might need to be archived or deleted completely. Meaning, it’s a good idea to have an archiving policy to know when you need to cut ties with data.

Gaining a better understanding.

Once you have a system in place for storing, managing, and updating data, you can start to leverage its power to benefit your business.

You can start to measure more targeted areas of your business over time. Some common questions you can answer once you have a better handle on your data are things like…

“Is the bounce rate on my website improving or getting worse?”

“What is the main source of traffic on my website?”

“What is like Lifetime value of a customer?”

Here at Sidepart we are obsessed with automation. It can be challenging to stay consistent with reporting and holding yourself accountable for this continuous process. This is where automation comes in.

If you have a feature rich CRM like Salesforce or Hubspot, you can create tasks to update data and automate the sending of scheduled reports to your email on a weekly or monthly basis. Another tip is to set up recurring calendar events to block out time to review your data and plan ahead. We will talk a bit more about time blocking in a post in the near future.

Even if you’re not ready for a full featured CRM you can automate much of this through tools like Zapier and your productivity platform of choice. Automation is a moving target and the flexibility of these intermediary tools allows you to craft a system that fits your business and your workflow while allowing you to adapt as your grow.

How do I plan for the future?

The future of data is continued improvements in technology to support business function without the need for specialist talent. These abstractions layers will stretch from continued advancements in machine learning and predictive modelling, to improved confidence in multi-touch attribution models.

In Part Three, we will talk about the future of data for financial services businesses and ensuring you stay up to data… er date. As always if you have any questions on data in the financial services industry please get in touch with us here.

Jonathan Snow

Author Jonathan Snow

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