Why centralizing data is key to improving critical business operations
Data is king, and organizations of all sizes spend significant time and resources capturing, storing and analyzing key financial and operational data. Even though this data is used to guide critical business decisions and assess the work of teams and individuals, most companies are still only cracking the surface when it comes to leveraging their analytics effectively. That’s because too often data is spread out across systems, leaving gaps in visibility and analysis.
By centralizing data in a way that makes it accessible to teams across your organization, you can put that data to better use and achieve more favorable results. Here’s why having centralized data is more important than ever and how you can improve data operations for your business.
Infrastructure vs. access
What does it really mean to “centralize” data? It’s a fair question, and in truth, centralized data is as much about how you collect and store data as it is about how you access it. First, you have to consider your physical and digital infrastructure. If you are storing data in separate databases that are located on separate servers, you may be creating data silos that inhibit analysis across your organization. Transitioning to the cloud could help alleviate much of this problem.
However, the more important aspect to consider is how your employees access data and pull it all together. You need a system that allows you to gather information from wherever it's stored so it can be shared and used by teams across your organization. For example, integrating data from your marketing campaigns into a sales-focused CRM could help both your marketing and sales teams be more effective. But if you can expand that even further to include purchasing information, revenue recognition and even inventory data, you can get a more complete picture of your operation that allows you to make better business decisions. This kind of enterprise-wide coordination and visibility is only possible with centralized data that is available and easily accessible to all appropriate parties.
Companies struggle to harness data
In this age of big data and advanced analytics, it’s somewhat surprising just how many companies struggle to use their data effectively. Sales departments are most likely to utilize analytics, but even these teams struggle to move past simple reporting metrics.
“Nearly one-third of sales organizations have their analytics outside of sales under a shared structure. This number is likely to grow as data is centralized to better improve compatibility with other functions,” said Craig Riley, a senior principal analyst at Gartner.
One of the reasons many companies struggle to make better, data-informed decisions is because their data is stored in third party add-on applications that were purchased on a piecemeal basis because their current business solution lacked a particular feature. Now they have to manage multiple business systems, which I call islands of information. This can lead to redundant data entry and causes employees to waste time logging in and out of databases with no semblance of real-time insights on the horizon.
If this reminds you of your own organization, do not worry. It’s not too late to achieve the benefits of centralized data. By taking steps to bridge this patchwork of software systems, or replacing systems altogether with new, more robust software, companies can gain enhanced data visibility and realize significant competitive advantages.
How to centralize your data
To achieve truly centralized data at your organization, you will first need to consider your digital infrastructure, the type of platform your data resides in and determine if your business application is holding your company back.
Next, you will need to assess your current software solutions to see if you can increase interoperability to improve analytics and business intelligence. If your current software is incapable of providing the kind of cross-function analysis you need to make better-informed decisions, you may need to consider upgrading to a new solution.
Once your data becomes more centralized, share examples with your team of how better analytics could improve their job functions. Giving employees real-world examples of better data utilization may help inspire them to buy into a new system and explore new ways of approaching old problems.
Lastly, you will need to improve data literacy. That means fostering a company culture where data is not only prized, but understood. To do that, make sure your employees have the proper training on all of your software solutions, and consider supporting further education outside your organization to help employees make the most of your new systems.
Better results for your business
Taking steps to centralize your data and improve analytics can represent a significant investment. But the benefits are worth it. For one, you’ll be able to identify inefficiencies in your operations and correct them to save your company money in the short term. But over the long term, you’ll be able to work on your business, not in your business. It’s time to automate your business processes in one centralized database so you can make better business decisions and create new processes that lead to sustained growth.
When considering new software systems, remember that 42% of sales leaders say the ROI of their sales analytics was even higher than expected. Not only that, but as Gartner’s Riley notes, “The high cost of technology solutions are more easily justified when shared across multiple teams.” By embracing centralized data and working to improve analytics throughout your organization, you can achieve a competitive advantage in your market and be better prepared for new challenges and business opportunities.
If you’re ready to see how integrated systems can drive results for your business, learn about Gravity Software's advanced multi-dimensional reporting or schedule a demo to see how our powerful solution can enhance your operation.
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