Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Secret Ingredient in Major IT Initiatives

One of my first jobs was that of assistant cook at a summer camp.  (In this case, the term ‘cook’ was loosely applied meaning to scrub pots and pans for the head cook.) It was there I learned that most cooks have ingredients that they tend to use more often.  The cook at Camp Marlin tended to use honey where applicable.  Food TV star Emeril likes to use garlic and pork fat.  Some cooks add a little hot pepper to their chocolate recipes – it is said to bring out the flavor of the chocolate.  Definitely a secret ingredient.
For head chefs taking on major IT initiatives the secret ingredient is always data quality technology. Attention to data quality doesn’t make the recipe of an IT initiative alone so much as it makes an IT initiative better.  Let’s take a look at how this happens.

No matter what the project, data profiling provides a complete understanding of the data before the project team attempts to migrate it. This can help the project team create a more accurate plan for integration.  On the other hand, it is ill-advised to migrate data to your new solution as-is, as it can lead to major costs over-runs and project delays as you have to load and reload it.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
By using data quality technology in CRM, the organization will benefit from a cleaner customer list with fewer duplicate records. Data quality technology can work as a real-time process, limiting the amount of typos and duplicates in the system, thus leading to improved call center efficiency.  Data profiling can also help an organization understand and monitor the quality of a purchased list for integration will avoid issues with third-party data.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Supply Chain Management (SCM)

If data is accurate, you will have a more complete picture of the supply chain. Data quality technology can be used to more accurately report inventory levels, lowering inventory costs. When you make it part of your ERP project, you may also be able to improve bargaining power with suppliers by gaining improved intelligence about their corporate buying power. 

Data Warehouse and Business  Intelligence
Data quality helps disparate data sources to act as one when migrated to a data warehouse. Data quality makes data warehouse possible by standardizing disparate data. You will be able to generate more accurate reports when trying to understand sales patterns, revenue, customer demographics and more.

Master Data Management (MDM)
Data quality is a key component of master data management.     An integral part of making applications communicate and share data is to have standardized data.  MDM enhances the basic premise of data quality with additional features like persistent keys, a graphical user interface to mitigate matching, the ability to publish and subscribe to enterprise applications, and more.

So keep in mind, when you decide to improve data quality, it is often because of your need to make a major IT initiative even stronger.  In most projects, data quality is the secret ingredient to make your IT projects extraordinary.  Share the recipe.


william sharp said...

I have been on a CRM project that confirms you assertion about DQ/CRM. The cost savings in this scenario can be in the hundreds of thousands and is well worth the investment on such a client-facing initiative.
I like the "secret ingredient" anaology so much I may borrow it sometime!

Phil Simon said...

It's too bad that many don't understand how long things take to bake and opt to use the microwave at the last minute!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own and don't necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer. The material written here is copyright (c) 2010 by Steve Sarsfield. To request permission to reuse, please e-mail me.