Data unification: The engine that delivers actionable insights

BrandPost By Jeff Miller
Nov 18, 2020
IT Leadership

Attain true business value by connecting the dots across disparate data silos with a data platform.

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Credit: ipopba

Data is said to be the new oil but, just like oil, it’s only valuable if it can be accessed and refined. Organizations with clean and available data have a significant competitive advantage, including actionable insights to enhance customer experiences and speed decision making.

However, gaining accessible, unified data is a tall order. For starters, the volume of data in the enterprise is expanding exponentially. IDC predicts global data volumes will grow from 45 Zettabytes (ZB) in 2019 to 175ZB by 2025.

What’s more, the vast majority of enterprise data is “dark” and goes unused, according to studies from IBM, Forrester and academics. Unfortunately, many large enterprises don’t know where much of their data resides because it’s sitting in multiple disconnected data silos. That makes it difficult, for example, to understand customer behavior and business relationships. Plus, inaccessible data makes reporting slow and inconsistent.

On the other hand, unifying data provides critical benefits:

  • Data fuels analytics solutions, which can then provide insights to inform better decisions and improve business performance.
  • Connected data enables faster, more efficient workflows.
  • Enterprises can accelerate the time-to-value of technology investments, such as MAP, CRM, and ERP when data is unified.

How to get started

The truth: Achieving data unification across the enterprise is complex and laborious. No one does it for fun, rather it’s in the best interests of the business.

That said, here are some initial steps to take, along with factors to consider.  

First, start with a discrete project that will demonstrate immediate value, such as unifying data within a specific geography or a business unit. For example, you might unify regional data to enable account-based marketing for a specific team. The goal is to get a quick win, so you can convince senior leaders to go bigger.

Next, prioritize data that best helps accomplish your goal. You may not need immediate access, for example, to internal server logs. Focus on the data you need, then discover where it’s located.

The next step is a bigger leap: Determine the governance and policies for the people who will do the work of data unification. There’s a lot of bias within organizations and even disagreement between different functions. IT personnel may not be best positioned to answer questions like: How do we define a customer? Or: What industry is this customer in? Business units must be engaged and help drive the project.

Also, conduct a skills assessment. For example, do you have the expertise in ETL integration, data cleansing, data quality, and master data management?

How to make data unification easier

Even beyond skillset needs, data unification is a tough nut to crack. It’s not among the core competencies of most organizations. And yet, it’s necessary to achieve actionable insights that drive revenue and efficiencies.

A trusted partner can help. For example, with the right expertise and a unified data foundation, organizations can quickly pull together a 360-degree view of each customer to quickly activate across MAP, CRM, and other digital locations and applications. That goes a long way toward enabling account-based marketing to improve sales efforts.

Find out how to get your first quick win in data unification. Visit here.