Customer data could drive most sales decisions by 2020 – but is it accurate enough?

Organisations are increasingly aware of the revenue boosting potential of their data and that’s demonstrated in the results of this latest global research project. 79% of organisations see customer data driving most sales decisions by the end of the decade.

Add to this the fact that 84% of those surveyed said their organisation now sees data as an integral part of forming their business strategy, and it’s pretty clear that the way businesses perceive the value of data is maturing rapidly.

However, the same report also shows that 90% of businesses still feel they are missing a sophisticated approach to managing and analysing data effectively. Despite the emphasis placed upon data, organisations reported that on average almost a quarter of customer data is inaccurate.

> See also: When social met sales: how data is transforming the role of the salesperson

The most common errors include incomplete or missing data, out-dated information, duplicates and inconsistencies. Businesses estimate that they could grow sales by almost a third (29%) if customer data was completely accurate.

The digitalisation of this world means that everyone is now confronted with a deluge of data. It is estimated that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created every day in 2012 and that was when mobile penetration was at an estimated 61% of the global population.

Considering this figure is estimated to rise to 70% by 2017, it’s clear that this ‘tsunami’ of data is only going to continue to grow exponentially in the years to come.

Increasing volumes of data and a shift in channel usage are also adding to the complexity of data management. Data volumes are on the rise – 39% of respondents claim their organisation manages 50 or more contact databases up from just 10% last year and the use of social media is reported to have grown by 81% in the last year.

According to 75% of respondents, email was the most used channel for marketing communications over the last year. Yet many organisations point to a variety of problems caused by poor email data quality, these include poor customer service, an inability to communicate with subscribers and unnecessary costs.

The study shows that 73% of organisations can point to a negative business impact as a result of these inaccuracies.

While the explosion of data presents its own challenges, businesses are embracing these and rapidly recognising its value. Not only is data forming an important part of business strategy, of those surveyed, 82% of businesses said they are looking to hire ‘data-centric’ roles as part of their data management strategy in the next few years.

The appointment of these new ‘data champions’ are entering organisations at board level and have the skill set to drive change and culture from the top. As a previous study found, there is a marked rise in the appointment of senior-level data professionals, who are turning the management of data into a strategic ‘business as usual’ activity, to drive value.

> See also: Three ways to use data to keep your customers coming back for more

Moving the management of data to a board level is important in a digital world where data, processing and interconnectivity are everywhere, meaning poor data quality can have a profound impact.

With 97% of organisations looking to achieve a single view of their customers, an increasing emphasis must be placed on using data effectively to get to know customers as individuals; making sure they are being offered tailored experiences which are relevant to them.

Those who do put data at the centre stage of their business strategy will reap the rewards, making their organisation more agile and forward thinking, in a hyper-competitive marketplace.

With the biggest drivers for this single view cited as being to increase loyalty, sales and strategic decision making, it’s clear that businesses recognise the importance of accurate customer data. Good data management enables businesses to understand their customers better, form greater relationships with them and ultimately drive revenue.

Sourced from Boris Huard, Experian

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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