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Data occupies a curious place for many sales and marketing teams: they will happily and readily acknowledge its importance, but also treat it as the exclusive preserve of the IT department and the specialists therein. They’re happy to make use of insights, but getting to know the ins and outs of an effective Data Governance policy is – in their minds – unnecessary.
This is understandable, but mistaken.
Every organization needs a clearly defined Data Governance and processing policy, and the technology to implement it correctly. It should involve every department that has contact with customers in some shape or form: sales, marketing, customer service, and operations being only the most obvious.
If you’re running a business or heading up an IT or technology department, it’s wise to encourage sales and marketing teams to adhere to a set data policy. Here’s why.
It Helps to Eliminate the Possibility of Data Silos
Data silos are more than just an inconvenience: they can cause confusion across the entire organization. When individuals in sales, marketing, support, operations, HR, and any other department you can think of, are hoarding important data for themselves, it means others can’t make use of this valuable information.
Data silos are an inevitable consequence – and one that breeds its own further set of consequences. If sales don’t have all the correct and relevant information about marketing’s leads, they’ll find those leads much harder to convert. If customer service doesn’t know what the end-user was sold and for what purpose, they’ll find it much harder to mollify an aggrieved caller.
By getting your organization to use a highly accessible and intuitive ERP, CRM, or another kind of centralized Data Management system, it’s easy to ensure that all information that’s relevant and legally accessible is made available across teams. Give your staff the resources they need to succeed, and they’re much more likely to.
It Encourages Teams to Share Valuable Customer Insights Laterally
Just as IT is no longer solely responsible for data and data-driven technology, sales and marketing teams are no longer exclusively responsible for customer experience. This is, broadly speaking, a good thing: sharing the burden means that they’re better able to make the most of their limited time and resources.
But you should also ensure that if they’re sharing the burden, they’re also sharing their insights. While conducting their duties, their analysis may discover things that can be useful to other departments across the organization. There are many possible scenarios that might emerge, including:
- The IT department may gain insight from the marketing department into how to improve certain elements of the website user experience or design in order to drive conversions.
- The research and development department may use insights from the customer service department to better understand which products are causing the most complaints, and why.
- The sales and marketing department may work with the IT team to take complex data and create simple, comprehensible visualizations in the forms of graphs and charts to help them understand customer behavior trends that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
It’s clear that developing a data-centric culture can create a wealth of opportunities to collaborate across the business.
It Encourages Collaboration, Efficiency, and Accountability
A coherent, comprehensive data policy offers many boons, but chief among them is accountability. Using a CRM system that everyone is responsible for updating is a good way to ensure maximum transparency into how data is being used – for the better or worse. If data is being used badly, this transparency can foster collaboration and mentorship: with those who understand the system offering informal instruction to those who don’t.
By standardizing rules for using and updating this system, you ensure that when inefficiencies, inaccuracies, and confusion occur, they’re either a result of not following them – or of a flaw inherent to these guidelines. A data policy is therefore something of a self-improving entity.
It Helps to Ensure Data is Regularly Cleansed
When everyone is involved in the Data Governance process, everyone has a stake in it – and everyone has a part to play. A truly collaborative policy will ensure that processes are in place for the regular cleansing and updating of information. Like sharks cleaning the oceans by eating the weaker and sicker fish, your employees will need to take it upon themselves to regularly purge useless, outdated, or inaccurate data.
This is, inevitably, something of a process, but the end-result is worth it: a single source of truth.
And that, ultimately, is what an effective Data Governance policy is about (when it’s not about legality): truth. Everyone wants to work from the best possible information, but not everybody knows how to get it.
A proper Data Governance policy encourages teams who should be using data to do so – and to do so correctly. Your policy may – and likely will – be imperfect, and it will never be a substitute for analytical rigor, determination, or skill. But if you implement one, you’ll be one step closer to ensuring that everyone has access to this truth.