Digital transformation has become a hot topic. More and more companies are interested in truly getting a full vision of the prospect, their interests, and their requirements.

The usual solution is to throw technology at the situation and assume it will help. While marketing and sales automation solutions are standard for most companies now, new acronyms like ABM and CDP have marketers and IT professionals seeking out the best technology for their needs.

The truth: It’s not all about technology. While we’ve seen Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic of martech grow and grow over the years, we’re also seeing a lot of people ask what the critical systems are, what will work for them, and what they need to do to get there. There’s a lot of disillusionment when technologies fail to deliver on their promise.

What companies are discovering is that inconsistent and siloed data makes it difficult, if not impossible, to use these technologies effectively. If your marketing team wants to segment customers, but the financial platform that designates whether a company is a customer or not isn’t connected, then it’s manual work to determine which companies are customers—and the data will always be out of sync because it’s based on real employees with real responsibilities finding time to do data entry. If you want your sales rep to have a view into whether the customer they’re trying to renew has had any support or product issues recently and your support ticket platform isn’t connected to your CRM, it’s going to be based on that rep asking if there are any issues—and you better hope they asked the right support rep who has the most up-to-date information.

Fueling your digital transformation means having cohesive, meaningful, manageable data shared across systems in near real-time. It means that there’s a way to easily and effectively share required fields while redacting sensitive personal data and preventing third parties from seeing data they shouldn’t be privy to. It means not only your platforms, but your processes and people, acting in concert to share information and provide the best customer service you can to retain and grow your customer base.

The first step is cleaning and normalizing the data in your systems of record. If you have state values that are two-letter, full name, and misspelled in one platform and those values are kept in multiple different fields, what would it be like if you then tried to connect multiple platforms? Data dumpster, anyone? So clean and normalize in a single platform first, and make sure it’s continuous data management.

With privacy laws changing on a rapid basis and governments adopting new restrictions, ensuring your database is compliant with regional privacy and digital information laws across platforms will be essential. You might be CASL compliant, and even have a handle on GDPR, but California’s privacy protections are due to go into effect in early 2020—are you ready? Look for more U.S. states to follow suit as time goes on. Once everything is normalized and you’ve got control of privacy requirements, you can share the required data across systems and with partners while redacting sensitive information.

While bringing disparate teams and processes together across your organization can be challenging, normalizing data, mapping fields across platforms, and creating smooth-running processes will go a long way toward keeping your digital transformation moving forward and on track. Clean, normalized, and context-sensitive data is the fuel for your digital transformation.

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