Companies today are full of different data. There are many ways to put data to work, and companies are advised to explore as many of them as they can. With all the possibilities for new revenue streams, profit and competitive advantage, managers should understand the value of the data that is delivered by customers, suppliers, industry etc.
The basic question that comes before thinking about any data strategy is where is your data located and who has what kind of access to it. Your company is a constantly alive business body with its parts permanently moving. If the brain of the business body is integrated then the internal actions are logic, fast and consistent. If there are many brains, then you have virtually some bodies inside one body. At one point of time it stops delivering results.
The first step is to put all your data together, assuring that the manager has an immediate access to all kind of information and processes. This step is absolutely necessary as disrupted picture leads to disrupted decisions. For example, if your company keeps orders & shipping in one system, accounting data in other system and inventory management in third system, then it is clearly that your data is in “many brains” controlled and managed by many different people.
Integration of the data in one ERP-system will change absolutely manager’s apprehension and decision-making process. All your business processes will be transparently tracked and managed using actual and right data, instantly accessible business reports and statistics. This step is a real “must” before moving to more complex data issues and strategies.
The second step is to incorporate more and better data into decision making. This may be difficult at the first stage but integrated data provides much more possibilities for appropriate, consistent and relevant to the problem practical data usage. This step will allow to all level managers to react better and more relevant to all kind of external and internal events. Consider special trainings on business data usage for top and middle managers that will help to elaborate automatic operational mental assessment: kind of problem – kind of data.
The third step is to start innovate products, services and processes based on your data. All-picture decision-making approach with relevant data greatly helps to uncover hidden insights, and to use those insights to create and improve products, services and processes.
For example, you assess from your CRM system (which is integrated with ERP-system) that one of your most profitable products are mostly ordered through your website by customers aged 20-35 years old with seasonal stable trends. And also, you see that you have always excess of these products at your inventory due to old forecast data. New information may lead to a more accurate just-in-time production planning process, reducing deliveries to stores and planning more resources to a correspondent online marketing channels and campaigns.
Integrated data greatly helps to develop personalized strategies for every product, process, client or group of clients. Marketing becomes more actual, responsive and flexible based on actual and accessible information.
The fourth step is to improve quality, eliminate costs of your products. Everything a company does uses enormous quantities of data. Right methodology allows selecting relevant data from your management and accounting systems for correct operational and strategic decision-making. Using ERP-system you may actively track down data quality issues and eliminate their root causes.
The fifth step is to incorporate the second step into your daily management life and business logic. With other words, using data to its full potential is much more about management than technology. In order to achieve results, cross-divisional meetings should be encouraged by top-management to offer their vision, new ways and solutions for company development problems and opportunities using the same data from the same one integrated system.