Why do we hear companies talking about a “single version of the truth”? It is because of the frustration they have experienced when multiple people argue about which numbers are correct rather than focusing on what the metrics mean. Finding out what the metrics really mean would allow them to improve operational performance and business results. They want data consistency so they can understand trends, variances, causes and effects. They want to be able to have easy and quick access to information that they can trust. They do not want to wait for days to get hold of data they need but may not even be able to rely on from IT or an overworked analyst.
In many companies existing data warehouses and reporting systems are so fragmented and widely dispersed that it’s impossible to determine the most accurate version of information across an enterprise. A proper information strategy with a solid MDM and infrastructure often takes years to develop and requires substantial upfront investment. In the meantime, companies’ departments are left to develop their own short-term solutions resulting in too many data sources reporting different information. This information is incomplete, lacks structure and is sometimes even misleading.
Imagine a mid-sized and fast growing international business with a strong portfolio of brands. They know very well how to manufacture a good quality product and effectively pitch it to a consumer. However, they struggle with large amounts of data sitting in multiple Excel spreadsheets and legacy systems without having access to analytics and consistent reporting. Central management does not often have much of an in depth view of what is happening in local markets. It takes a long time and some frustration to get a simple market-share data point. Not to mention the time and frustration to gain insight into competitor and product performance on a regular basis.
Would it not be great to have a central single source of reliable & consistent information enabling quick and easy access and reporting, reducing manual work and delivering performance results quicker? It is possible. You don’t have to ‘boil the ocean’ and to try to incorporate all existing data at once. Start with market or sales data to get a consistent and accurate view of the critical KPIs, to improve segmentation and to get an insight into key areas before adding-on more…
With new technology, methodology for data unification and the emergence of data visualisation tools that are revolutionising decision making, that panacea of the “single-version” isn’t just a dream. Whether it’s your legacy vendors or open-source options, this new wave of technology enables delivery of the right information and analysis to the right person, at the right time and on a regular basis. It can help to overcome the need for large infrastructure investment while developing your metrics; stakeholder strategy and reporting requirements.
It’s not an impossible dream and although the wave of options, methodologies and technologies might feel like an overwhelming wave, you can ride the swell towards an optimal solution.
Author: Nadya Chernusheva