Is Your Database a Business Asset?

What is your business’s greatest asset? Many would say money in the bank, but in reality this particular asset is simply an effect; its cause is far more valuable. Money comes from your customers, and understanding these customers is key to creating more value within the business.If you know what your customers look like, you know who to target. If you know your customers’ needs and desires, you know what to offer them. If you know when your customers will be most open to your offers, you know when to offer it. Indeed, if you know your customers habits, worries, challenges and limitations, you can build your entire business strategy around these things. And all of these learnings will largely come from one source – your database.Money in the bank tells you how you performed yesterday. Your customer database will affect your business performance today and tomorrow.So what does a good database look like? How do you know if it is being utilized to its full potential? Here are 5 tips that will help to ensure that your database is a true asset to your business.

1. Clearly define the data you seek to collect

The aim for your database should be to provide a clear picture of both current and potential customers in order to allow you to make smart business decisions. If you have a clear picture of the insights you seek and the questions you want answered, that will define the data you need to collect.Take time to identify the exact data that will aid you in this endeavor. Make sure that the data is relevant, relatively easy to collect and keep up-to-date, and be useful at various stages of the customer’s journey. This could mean that ‘relevant’ data for someone like a prospect could extend to how many children they have, or their favorite sports team.

2. Organize and segment the database

A big old pile of data is no help to anyone. You need to organize this data in a way that makes it useful and accessible for analysis. Segmenting the information into parcels that relate to each other will ensure that you gain specific answers to whatever specific queries you may have.Most CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems will allow you to do this at a base level, while a Business Intelligence solution will allow for more comprehensive segmentation. Whatever the case, it’s vital that data is entered consistently in order for it to be accurate, and therefore useful.

3. Bring in data from a range of sources

Bringing in data from a range of disparate sources will ensure that you get a truly complete picture of your customers. You may get data from social media, from broader market data, or simply from other departments within your organization.There are also specialist data companies dedicated to filling in gaps within your database. These companies can help to supply data as basic as contact details, right through to complex information on things like trends within different demographics.

4. Regularly audit and maintain your data

Your data, just like everything else in the universe, is in slow decay. B2B data, for example, decays at an average rate of 2.1% per month. That means that if you haven’t audited and checked over your data in a year and a half, well over 30% of it could be out of date. This creates huge inefficiencies, and will also have you making business decisions that don’t correlate with the current state of play.At the very least your data should be audited and maintained every 6 months. While it’s a large investment of time, your business will be all the better for it.

B2B data, decays at an average rate of 2.1% per month. In a year and a half, over 30% of it could be out of date.

5. Analyze your data with a quality BI solution

While all of the tips above may seem somewhat time consuming, almost of all them can be made more efficient with the help of a custom business intelligence (BI) solution. A quality BI tool automates much of the otherwise manual processes involved in properly utilizing your database, and will come with an analytics engine that will offer the sort of insights into your data that are simply unable to be gained through any other means.While your business will obviously have many different value drivers, a database that is properly capitalized upon will almost always ensure continued success of your business, and investing in the resources required to unlock these secrets is perhaps the shrewdest decision a business leader can make.