Data, Hoverboards and Ashley Madison. 2015 Review

Data, Hoverboards and Ashley Madison. 2015 Review

Imagine if Marty McFly had gone back to 1985 telling the world what he saw in the real 2015, they would have locked him up in a loony bin. That people of today walk around with electronic devices smarter than anything or everything in the world had back then, in their pockets. And these devices can do almost everything, from hailing a cab, buying 3D printed ornaments from Venezuela, check Chinese stock markets or watch television.

The irony is that people of today call these devices “phones”, which is one of the less popular functions of them. Yet the possibilities of phones grow every day, largely due to all the data they collect. Data being generated and recorded of every person, making their lives easier, less congested and more connected. While we churn this data and create it by the petabyte everyday, we’re realizing that making sense of it is the new challenge – and securely maintaining and storing accurate data is essential.

At helpIT we’ll have been working with data for 25 years as of 2016, which makes us some of the few young adults in a world of newborn data companies. But before we turn 25, we thought it might be good to take a look back at 2015, our 24th year and reflect on how data has become rather newsworthy.

Headlines that worried us…

The most shocking of data scandals in 2015 was the breach of security at AshleyMadison.com, an online marketplace for married folk with a wandering eye.  The world watched in fascinated horror as the site’s 37 million members scrambled to save their marriages, careers, and reputations.  No one was exempt:  the compromised membership list even included members of the United Nations and the Vatican.  More worrisome to companies watching this event unfold was the suspicion that the leak came from a disgruntled employee.  Which is a good reminder to all of us that while protecting your database from outside threats is a priority, never overestimate the loyalties of those on the inside as well.

While the original cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment occurred in 2014, the aftershocks were still arriving in the new year.  Especially when Wikileaks made the decision to create a searchable data dump on more than 30,000 private documents from the breach.  Citing public interest, Wikileaks claimed that Sony’s influence on Washington made the inner workings of their company relevant to the general public.  Companies everywhere began beefing up their privacy settings.

Some good news…

As the data security attacks kept coming, businesses were forced to reanalyze the priority placed on data security as well as data’s importance to their organizations.  Quality database management not only keeps customers safe, but businesses now recognize that accurate contact data can be used to keep customers happy.  According to an Accenture poll, 89 percent of business leaders believe big data will revolutionize business operations in the same way the Internet did.

These same leaders are planning on pursuing big data projects in 2016 in order to seize a competitive edge.  To this effect, many businesses are recognizing that the first step is improving the quality of their contact databases in order to better serve their customers.  For consumers, this should bring a more personalized and effective e-commerce experience in the New Year.

What we were up to…

With database management taking center stage on the corporate agenda, we at helpIT systems have been hard at work to meet this rising demand.  While we have a wide range of unrivaled data quality software solutions, the year of 2015 began a shift away from individual products towards a more complete data quality solution providing customers with a one-stop shop for data quality, data matching, and data enrichment.  Our staff has been working diligently to ensure that we are ready to provide both our current and our new customers with stellar customer service and technical support that exceeds expectations.

To that end, helpIT systems rolled out a new website designed with the customer experience in mind.  Our goal was to provide more value through instructional tools and industry resources.  While data quality software and solutions are our primary focus, we strive to be a resource to those who visit www.helpit.com looking for answers about all aspects of data quality.

Expectations for 2016…

Perhaps the most pervasive change in the data industry during 2015 was the rapid growth in the “internet of things”.  While the technology has been around for years, we saw a large jump in the amount of devices created to monitor data in our personal lives.  Sales of everything from Fitbits, to monitor your health, to Nests, a home thermostat that adapts to your behaviors and the seasons, have boomed.  We expect to see more of this in 2016.

While this data will save electricity, ideally make us rethink our fitness goals, and improve home security, both companies and consumers are looking ahead to ensure this data is better protected than the troves that came before it.  Because while the concept of data has been around for a while, 90 percent of the world’s data was collected within the last two years.  Companies are learning how important it is to keep this information safe, and that is good news for everyone in 2016.
As all of this data is being collected, the feat of managing it looms before us like perfecting a true hover-board (which can actually just about hover over water).  A company can only hope to gain the competitive edge from data analysis if it possesses secure, accurate, and searchable contact data.  helpIT systems has been a partner to companies in this goal for the past 24 years and we will continue to grow and be there for 24 more.

Happy Holiday and a Prosperous New Year to all!

12 Days of Data Quality sign

12 Days of Data Quality

The holidays are finally here.  They always seem so far away and then, as the days grow short and temperatures fall, they tend to jump out at us in a surprise attack like a kid in a spooky costume on Halloween.  And once they are here, if you blink, they are over.  The anticipated smells of gingerbread baking in the oven, the joy of seeing a loved one open a carefully selected present, the glow of thousands of twinkling Christmas lights… all over before we were able to slow down and truly appreciate the holiday season.

So before December disappears under a pile of wrapping paper, we are inviting you to take the time to be merry, revel in the holidays, and perhaps still get a bit of work done.

Welcome to helpIT system’s 12 Days of Data Quality:

On the first Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

A Single Customer View (In a Pear Tree)

The first gift in this classic holiday carol is a Partridge in a Pear Tree.  The partridge sits alone high above the rest of the world.  Regally.  Eating pears (I imagine it eating pears) while looking down on all the lesser beings that have to see the world from ground level.

Your organization can be that partridge, sitting high above the rest.  Except in the world of database management, we are seeking a truly accurate Single Customer View, rather than a belly full of pears.  We all want the ability to look down on one contact record and obtain accurate, up-to-date information, each and every time.  Having one complete record for each customer ensures that they will receive the correct marketing materials at the correct address.  Salespeople will know a customer’s complete purchase history to analyze likely future purchases.  Customer service reps will be aware of address changes, name changes, as well as any other personal details in order to make the customer feel like they matter.  Which they do.  A lot.

Each customer in your contact database makes up a limb of your “pear tree”.  In the song, no matter how many gifts of drummers or pipers or ladies milking cows are given, it always comes back to the pear tree.  The tree is the center of everything, holding up even the partridge.  Just as your customers hold up your organization.  Make your customers feel this importance by respecting them as individuals, and as the base of your success, rather than lumping them in with the rest in your database.  The first step in doing this is by having a strong data quality solution and system in place.

On the second Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

2 Matched Records

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two turtle doves.  Which was great, in medieval times, when the doves symbolized true love’s endurance, mainly because they mated for life.  Everyone from the Bible to Shakespeare has made mention of them.

This December, give yourself another sort of true match.  Matching contact records in your database is the first step to cleaning up dirty data and obtaining a Single Customer View.  And there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

The important thing to consider when matching and deduping your database is the methodology used in the process.  Some software only matches exact records, so ‘John Smith’ and ‘John Smith’ would show up as a duplicate.  However, ‘John Smith’ and ‘Jon Smith’ would not.  So if you want a truly accurate database, you have to employ a more sophisticated method.

helpIT system’s matching software compares all the datasets in one contact record against the rest of your database.  John Smith’s address, birthday, phone number, email, or whatever other datapoints you use are all taken into consideration when pinpointing matches.  This process often picks up 20-80 percent more matches than other software.  When you multiply that by 200 million records, that’s a lot of matches.

The biggest mistake organizations make when matching records is to view it as a “one and done” solution.  Data matching, like any long-term relationship, is something that must be constantly tweaked, adapted, and carried out on a regular basis.  Although as the turtle doves can attest, this type of devotion does come with big rewards.

On the third Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

3 Frenchmen

 

Rather than the French Hens in the traditional song, let us meet a Frenchman whose name is Dr. Mathieu Arment. He loves to purchase designer scarfs from your company, Parisian Scarves. During his first online purchase, he entered his information as follows:

Matheiu Arment
27 Rue Pasteur
14390 Cabourg
FRANCE

The Parisian Scarves marketing department then sends him a catalogue for the Spring Collection. He flips through it while sitting at a local café sipping a latte and finds a handsome purple plaid scarf that he absolutely must have, but he has forgotten his laptop. So he calls in the order. The Parisian Scarves customer service rep does not see an account under the name she types in, Mattheiu Armond, so she creates a new account record and places his order.

Later, a second customer service rep is handling an issue with his order and decides to send a coupon as a gift for all of his trouble. The coupon is sent to Mathis Amiot. And the rep slightly misspelled his address on Rue Pasteur. Upon receiving the misguided coupon as well as two of the same catalogue addressed to slight variations of his name, Dr. Arment realizes that he is not just one Frenchman, but rather 3 separate Frenchmen in the eyes of Parisian Scarves. Feeling annoyed and undervalued that his favorite scarf company cannot even spell his name correctly, not to mention they also forgot his birthday, Dr. Arment takes his scarf shopping to another business who appreciates him as an individual.

Not all data matching software is created equal. While some compares only exact matches, helpIT system’s unique phonetics matching system will pull out similar sounding pieces of data as well as similar spellings. This will create a higher match rate, allowing for less duplicates to slip through into your database.

In this instance, the Parisian Scarves customer service rep would have typed in Mattheiu Armond, only to have the record Matheiu Arment show up as a possible match. She would have noted the similar addresses and concurred, correctly, that these were the same customer.

Accurate data matching creates a data quality firewall, preventing bad data from entering the system at point-of-entry, as well as filtering it out on a regularly scheduled check-up. So Dr. Arment can stay one Frenchman, and more importantly, he will stay a customer of Parisian Scarves.

On the fourth Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

4 Calling Salespeople

 

Sales is a unique industry in which every minute can translate into profits, if that minute is spent efficiently and effectively. Salespeople are constantly seeking better ways of doing things in order to increase your company’s profits, as well as their commissions. Which means every minute wasted clicking through the CRM, either in search of leads or trying to obtain accurate client data, is valuable time lost. Every phone call they make is either costing you money or making you money. What decides whether a sales team is a drain or an asset? The quality of the leads they are contacting.

A CRM that has effective data quality measures in place is filled with accurate contact records. These records can be analyzed to obtain valuable information by all arms of your organization, especially the sales department.

A good salesperson can use CRM data to offer the right products to the right potential buyers, as well as dedicate more time to leads that are statistically more likely to turn into sales. They will be able to quickly obtain the correct point-of-contact and contact information without fishing through multiple records for the same lead. A salesperson will also look more knowledgeable as they are able to talk easily with a client about their business needs.

Give your salespeople the resources they need to be a profitable addition to your company by having an accurate, up-to-date CRM.

On the fifth Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

5 Golden Reasons to Trial matchIT SQL

 

helpIT’s ‘12 Days of Data Quality’ continues with 5 Golden Reasons to Trial matchIT SQL. Perhaps not the golden rings the lady received in the song, but really, who needs five golden rings? Sounds like a pickpocket’s dream come true. So instead, we here at helpIT are presenting you with five reasons to try our matching system.

We hope by now that you are starting to understand how important a strong data quality management system is to the success of your organization. It can increase profits and productivity in all arms of your organization. Yet sometimes it is hard to get the ball rolling, especially if you have a lot of chiefs who are part of this decision. So consider these five reasons why a helpIT systems trial is a good place to start:

1. Quick Installation. Be processing data in less than an hour!
2. Run data cleansing processes on your own data in your own environment (even address validation).
3. Customize the matching process and fine-tune your results with dedicated Trial Customer Support.
4. Run large volumes of data to see real performance results.
5. Get the real-world examples you need to justify your business case for SQL data.

This holiday season, try matchIT SQL for 30 days for absolutely nothing! We know you will love it, but if you don’t, we will give you 5 golden rings. Or maybe just one. Or a thank-you email. Yes, if you don’t love it, we will send you an email thanking you for your time. Happy trialing!

On the sixth Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

6 Companies a-Laying

 

Our countdown to Christmas and better data quality measures continues! In the song, his sweetheart received 6 geese laying eggs. Which might get some odd looks around the office. Instead, consider the importance of laying a strong foundation when beginning your quest for clean data.

All geese lay eggs. But the goose that laid the golden egg got a lot more attention than the rest. Like that golden-egg laying goose, the company that lays the strongest foundation in regards to data quality will garner the most attention and achieve the best results.

Most organizations think of clearing out dirty data as something to be dealt with when absolutely necessary. When in reality, database maintenance is a process that should be consistently tweaked, monitored, and exercised. Contact data is constantly entering your system. Contacts are frequently relocating, changing names, or passing away. Which means a good database administrator is diligent in tracking these changes.

Laying the foundation for strong data quality measures is often labeled too time consuming to be dealt with. But the time invested originally will pay off in piles of golden eggs in the future.

On the seventh Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

7 Sales a-Swimming

 

Or rather, floundering. Whether you want to admit it or not, the odds are you are floundering in bad data, working hard just to stay afloat of the changes that occur in your contact database on a daily basis. Each sale relies on every member of your team being able to swim seamlessly through the CRM to obtain the information they need to make a client feel valued and understood.

Companies today report data analysis as one of the most effective tools for developing marketing campaigns and targeting sales leads. Many organizations use data analysis on a daily basis. However, if they are analyzing inaccurate or out-of-date data, the analysis is all but pointless. A database that does not have systems in place for catching bad data at point-of-entry, as well as a regular cleansing schedule, is a hindrance rather than a help in regards to data analysis.

This holiday season, give your data analysis the gift of a life raft. Make sure your team is swimming, rather than floundering, in the sea of contact data. Accurate data analysis will increase marketing effectiveness, reduce marketing spend, and increase productivity in all aspects of your business that work in the CRM.

On the eighth Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

8 Maids E-Mailing

 

While your business is probably not made up of maids, it does most likely contain many people that rely on email communications on a day-to-day basis. Email is an important means to reach prospects, current customers, and vendors. How these messages are delivered, as well as the content in them, is a strong reflection on the quality of your business model.

Do the emails look polished and professional? Or lazy and sloppy? Most organizations unintentionally accomplish the latter. A lack of data quality management systems has caused incorrect contact information to reside in their database. So Joe Smith gets an email addressed to Jo Smith. Or Jo Smith becomes a Mrs. instead of a Mr. And that’s all assuming that the email is even delivered.

Email deliverability is a key concern to many businesses, especially in regards to marketing. A great marketing campaign is irrelevant if the message is not received by the intended recipient. New email addresses are often mistyped. Another possibility is that a wrong address was given intentionally. Either way, the organization has lost a sales lead because the incorrect address is not reachable.

Email validation is a valuable and effective piece of the data quality puzzle. It will greatly increase the number of leads passed onwards to your sales team as well as ensure that marketing communications arrive to the person they were intended for. It is easy to implement, and the rewards far outweigh the costs.

On the ninth Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

9 Ladies Dating

 

One of the biggest challenges in your database can come from name changes. Sometimes it is from 9 ladies dating and then deciding to tie the knot. And while marriage is normally considered a wonderfully celebrated occasion, to the database administrator it means the possibility of error. Because it is almost a certainty that Ms. Smith is not calling her 17 magazine subscriptions from her honeymoon to let them know she married Mr. Clark and moved into his duplex in the Heights.

The new Mrs. Clark is a valued customer. So treat her as such by recognizing these changes as quickly as possible. Name changes and new addresses are easily dealt with when you have a proper data quality system in place. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog for some tips on keeping up with Mrs. Clark.

On the tenth Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

10 Lords a-Moving

 

The original Lords from the song might be a-leaping, but most of your customers getting around via UHaul trucks and airplanes. They are leaping across town, across the state, and sometimes, across the world. In an average year over 40 million people move. Keeping up with them can seem even harder than remembering the words to the 12 Days of Christmas.

Keep your contact database accurate and up-to-date with National Change of Address (NCOA). In one easy process your current contact address data is compared to USPS CASS and DPV certified data, correcting any typing errors and appending additional information.

On the eleventh Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

11 Pipers Piping

 

The Pied Piper was a character in German folklore who tried to sway a town to pay him to rid their village of rats. His pipe music would lure the rats out of hiding and they would follow him out of town. When the villagers refused to pay for this service, he piped away their children instead. Not the noblest use of his talents, but the ability to lead others is a powerful trait nonetheless.

Be the pied piper at your organization, only use your powers for good instead of evil. Make 2016 the year your organization makes data quality solutions a priority and others will be glad they followed you. Often the only thing holding a company back from reducing the costs of bad data is the knowledge and the leadership to move forwards. helpIT systems offers a full range of customer support solutions so that you and your company can feel confident about your next move.

On the twelfth Day of Data Quality, helpIT gave to me:

 

12 DBAs Drumming

 

More often than not, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The loudest drummers in your office this season should be those making noise about the importance of data deduplication. Having an improperly deduped database can create upwards of 60 percent of dirty data in your contact database.

Those incorrect contacts are receiving marketing materials (which cost money), taking up manpower to organize and sift through in the CRM (which costs time), and getting calls from your sales people (which cost money and time).

This month alone I have received mail for 4 different past residents of my current apartment. You know what I do with it? I throw it away. So Horace will never get that credit card offer. Zachary will not be donating to the Salesian Missions. And Monique will not be showing up in court for her fifth and final notice to appear. (Feeling a little guilty about that last one.)

We hope you enjoyed our unique spin on the traditional “12 Days of Christmas”. While the holidays are nearing an end, helpIT systems is here to answer your data quality questions 365 days a year. We hope to make 2016 your best data quality year ever. Give us a call or visit our website at www.helpit.com to find out more information.