Information strategy white paper


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Accurate information is the key to success, but in today’s fast-paced world things change quickly, and with more information in more places, it’s hard to keep up with the correct information. Therefore it’s becoming crucial to have a strategy on how to deal with the mountain of data.

In this free whitepaper, you will learn how to enhance performance by creating an information strategy.

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Information strategy white paper

  1. 1. Information StrategyLeveraging data beyond the data “ Accurate information is the key to success, but in today’s fast-paced world things change quickly, and with more information in more places, it’s hard to keep up with the correct information. Therefore it’s becoming crucial to ” have a strategy on how to deal with the mountain of data. A publication | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50 1
  2. 2. The Key Issues Why Have an Information Strategy? ............................. 3 Does Your Data Fit Your Strategy? ............................... 5 Using Information to Enhance Performance ................. 6 Information Management & Governance ...................... 7 Alignment ...................................................................... 9 7 Steps to Getting Started .......................................... 10 71% of executives say they DAILY. with data inaccuracies struggle2 | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50
  3. 3. Why Have an Information Strategy?Technology might make aspects of our lives simpler but in business terms thespeed of technological development presents challenges in how to manageit. Information technology has integrated itself into the fabric of businesses tothe extent that it’s often no longer purely an IT team issue and strategies haveto be developed cross-departmentally. The process of managing technologyin the enterprise is getting more complex as it simultaneously becomes moreimportant.Information is the single most important resource for almost every business- affecting sales, marketing, human resources and operations. Just as impor-tantly, almost all management decision-making takes place with reference todata, examples being: the size of the potential customer base, the value ofcurrent customers, the anticipated return on investment on new projects, andthe levels of staffing and resourcing needed to support them.Information alone cannot do this, nor can strategy. In reality, in any successfulorganisation, information and strategy are inextricably linked. Information willdetermine the direction the business should take and strategy will help prioritisethe information needs of the business. The enterprises that get this right willgain a competitive advantage.“ ” Knowledge is Power Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)This quotation is now often adapted to “Information is Power” and whereas,in the 16th century, knowledge was power if you used it for yourself, in a 21stcentury enterprise, it’s only beneficial if it’s shared.There is no benefit in the company’s CEO knowing everything there is to knowabout the customers if that isn’t shared with the sales and customer servicespeople who deal with them on a daily basis.Similarly, the business performance stats no longer remain within the financedepartment because that information governs the enterprise’s ability to growand even to survive. | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50 3
  4. 4. “ We used to provide yearly accounts for most companies but now they want quarterly or even monthly management accounts because it’s so important to know the business is on track and ” make rapid changes if it isn’t. UK Accountance FirmTherefore, information has moved from being a ‘technical tool’ to being a‘management tool’ and to being something that is not held by a select few,but which can be accessed by every level within the business and even outto customers and partners. Case Study Information & Partnerships The Issue The language services industry which provides interpreters for the public- and private- sector used to compete one-on-one for large Government contracts. A number of high- profile failures to provide interpreters has demonstrated that no single company can provide on-demand nationwide interpreter services in a large number of languages. The Solution One of the language industry global leaders, thebigword, has developed a technology that enables it to collaborate with up to 50 partners at a time – including SMEs, charities and the voluntary sector – to provide on-demand interpreting services. To facilitate this, it has developed an information sharing portal called Word Pie™. thebigword’s CEO Larry Gould says: “ Word Pie™ is exactly what it says, a pie that a lot of people have a share of. In the past we would never have considered sharing cus- tomer contracts with outside organisations. We would have won them ” and kept them for ourselves. But we know that information sharing is the way to grow the business because it’s the only way to meet the customers’ requirements.4 | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50
  5. 5. Does Your Data Fit Your Strategy?Most enterprises start out by one or a few people deciding to run abusiness. In the hectic early years of trying to secure customers and growbigger, information management is a low priority. It’s only when a businesshas reached a certain size that information – and it has to be good informa-tion – is needed for it to develop further.It is at this stage that many managers discover that their information is notup to the job, and this usually is a result of how it was collected in the firstplace. Most companies’ information has been collected in many differentways, typically: inputting by sales teams, buying-in of lists, and historicaldata from previous business activities.Not only is data that has been collected in this way incomplete, it can alsodistort the true position, resulting in management decisions being taken oninaccurate information. “ We had a really hot sales guy for a while work- ing in a specific region. As a result, it looked as though all our potential customers were there. We were already in the process of setting up a local office to service it when we realised that there were a lot more prospects in a completely ” different region. CEO of a multinational manufacturing companyAs we have explained earlier in this White Paper, information and businessstrategy are linked together, each needing the other for the enterprise tofunction successfully. Because of this, your developing strategy may fuelthe need for information that you don’t currently have and that you willneed in order to achieve business objectives. | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50 5
  6. 6. Using Information to Enhance PerformanceInformation flows though every enterprise, not always in aplanned or strategic way. Typically, customer information willstart with Sales and is immediately relevant to Marketing. Oncesales are made, the information flow needs to encompass 90% of executives say theirOperations, Customer Service and Finance. The IT depart-ment should have a logistical and ‘umbrella’ role, overseeing business is data driventhe technology behind the information flow.Having a repository for this information is very importantbecause the proliferation of smart phones and tablets – inaddition to a drive towards the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ Only 1/3 of data scientists said theyculture, means vital customer data can be spread across theenterprise. If information stays on iPads, Blackberries and in are very confident in theirthe sales team’s heads then it fails the ‘information sharing’ company’s ability to makerule and cannot contribute to decision-making. business decisions basedIncreasingly, organisations work on a project basis, with fluid, on data.interdepartmental teams and outsourced specialists comingtogether to manage a project. These teams often need datato support their tasks and the availability and accuracy of thatdata can have far-reaching consequences on the project’ssuccess. Project planning is everything and a project based oninaccurate information may have a disastrous impactthroughout the enterprise. James Waterhouse CEO, KeyedIn Consulting Group A hundred years ago, the Titanic set sail from Southampton with nearly two thousand people on board but only 16 lifeboats. The original design allowed for 64 but these were reduced to allow more space for luxuries. After all, why frighten the first class passengers and clutter the decks when the ship was ‘unsinkable’? Similarly, every expense was spared on the quality of the ship’s rivets which popped out like press studs when the iceberg hit. Another bad decision. Add to this the fact that no evacuation procedures were drilled by the crew; its captain insisted on sailing through a known ice field at full throttle to keep on schedule; life boats were launched half empty….all decisions driven by the wrong belief that the ship couldn’t possibly sink. What really caused the loss of 1500 lives that night? A series of bad decisions brought about by an initial, inaccurate piece of information that everyone worked on: the Titanic was unsinkable. 6 | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50
  7. 7. Information Management & GovernanceYour Information Strategy will encompass several key questions that cover themanagement and governance of your date: Information Generation How is our information generated and when people acquire it, what do they do with it? Information Storage Do we have a central storage space for customer information or is it spread across the enterprise with e.g. customer buyer contacts in Sales, revenue statistics in Finance, delivery schedules in Operations, and complaints in Customer Service? Information Utilisation Who uses our information and what for? How do they access and bring together relevant information for a project or business development process? To what extent do we want information to be available to different layers of our workforce and partners and customers? Developing and Maintaining Data Integrity When information is input into our system, how do we check that it’s accurate? Do we have a mechanism to ensure data records on customers and prospects are up to date? If not, is inaccurate or incomplete information impacting on our business decisions? “ The current challenges in the economy make the business universe very fluid. We currently make 10,000 adjustments and amendments to the EuroContactPool database every day. ” Johan Lindqvist, EuroContactPool | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50 7
  8. 8. Irrespective of the work you put into developing and implementing an Information Strategy, itwon’t work unless users are engaged and on-side. That will only happen if they can see directresults from supporting the strategy and if their part in it isn’t too time-consuming. “ A Swedish company found that it took a sales person up to 15 minutes to find out all the infor- mation on each customer or prospect to fill out the fields on its CRM. This could be done by an automatic updating system at less than a tenth ” of the cost. - EuroContactPoolThere are still many businesses that cannot take advantage of necessary data because it’ssimply inaccessible. Only 17 % of B2B marketers claim to have access to valuable data thatallowed them to be intelligence-driven in their business decisions. Understanding customersand markets is only possible by creating infrastructure to make data as available as possible –with minimum effort.Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, however, are not the complete answer.You may be familiar with the phrase ‘Rubbish In – Rubbish Out’, which means that the data-base output is directly related to the quality of the input. Your business’s CRM might enableyou to store details on 10,000 companies but if 40 per cent of them are inaccurate, then youwill have 4,000 wrong records.Fortunately, most industry-standard CRMs such as Microsoft Dynamics,,SuperOffice, Lundalogik and Agile Sales can link seamlessly into a master database such asEuroContactPool, providing access to accurate data from the desktop interface.By automating the data quality process, any department can have access to up-to-date data,allowing marketers to make timely, multidimensional and relevant business decisions, andallowing your company to stay ahead of the competition.Demonstrating results can be more difficult and is often longer-term.Sometimes a single incident will trigger off the realisation.“ We have a tailor-made CRM system and we find we have to badger new employees to keep it up to date. Then there’s usually an occasion where they take a call on behalf of a colleague and at that moment, ” they realise what a valuable resource it is. - Sue Baker, MD of Lexicon PR Ltd.8 | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50
  9. 9. AlignmentAs with any strategy, Information Strategy will not deliver unless itis aligned with the objectives of the enterprise. Without theeffective management of information, business units will not meettheir goals and inaccurate information will affect all their activitiesand ultimately, customer satisfaction.Revisiting the company’s overall strategy should address this: isthe aim to be the highest quality or the lowest price? The fastestgrowing or niche and highly profitable? Whatever the company’sobjectives, and there will doubtless be many more than this, theInformation Strategy should support them.Elements of the business, such as departments and projectteams, will have their own plans that (in theory) will align withdelivery of the business objectives. It is these ‘frontline’ plans thatoften determine which information matters most.Putting in goals for your Information Strategy will enable you tomonitor adoption of the processes and manage pockets ofnon-alignment. “ What gets measured, gets managed. - Management Guru Peter Drucker ” | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50 9
  10. 10. 7 Steps to Getting Started 1. Top Down Information Strategy must have commitment from the senior management team. If senior management are seen not to adhere to the policy, no-one else will either. 2. The Front Line Information Strategy isn’t just a management tool but something that impacts enterprise-wide. Look at how access to information affects customer relationships. 3. New Structures All businesses are changing cultures and structures to meet changing needs: outsourcing, remote working, Bring Your Own Device, project teams. Consider the Information needs of these groups and how the Strategy should embrace them. 4. Existing Systems How will the Information Strategy integrate existing systems such as Project Management Software and Customer Relationship Management? 5. Transformation Consider the way that information travels through the enterprise and how accurate data will support many of its operations. 6. Engagement Bring Stakeholders on-board by understanding their information needs, communicating their role and explaining their part in the strategy’s success. 7. Tools Put in place the right tools and techniques to create your information strategy and maintain effective data management.10 | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50
  11. 11. About EuroContactPoolInformation you can trustEuroContactPool is the world’s most comprehensive European databasecontaining the freshest and most accurate marketing information.We provide high-quality business information for your sales and marketing needs, anddata management solutions, all of which support confident decision-making processesand the identification of high-potential business opportunities. We have information on26 million businesses and 22 million decision-makers across Europe, to make sure youfind and connect with the right target. More than 30 million records are updated daily anduniquely, they’re available from a single supplier. It’s what sets us apart from our competi-tors and enables you to run a hassle-free, cost-effective, targeted and highly-successfulmarketing campaigns.EuroContactPool has a range of tools to support your Information Strategy andData Management:Data Audit – determine the accuracy or otherwise of your in-house customer database bymatching it against EuroContactPool’s master database, containing information on morethan 30 million European businesses and decision-makers, updated daily.Data Match and Cleansing – 85-95% by automatic data cleansing followed by 5-10%identified by manual data cleansing.Enhancement and Appending – completing and updating your records with all the cur-rent information known about that company.Monitoring and Updating – to ensure that every record is fresh and up-to-the-minute.One-by-One Matching – enabling you to find all the known data about an enterprise fromone small piece of information.Analysis and Prospect Search – identifying your best customers and finding more of thesame, right across Europe.CRM Integration – EuroContactPool CRM plug-ins enable users to access the powerfulEuroContactPool database direct from their familiar CRM interface. Supported systemsinclude Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, SuperOffice, SAP, and Lundalogik. | | | +46 (0)31 10 52 50 11