Data management is a problem for every business, but big businesses have more solutions for their problems because of the range of tools aimed at them and their larger checkbooks. Here are five data management issues small businesses have to deal with, as well as explaining the impact these problems have.
Big Data is a problem, not a solution. That’s why we pay people who can wade through the data and find exactly the information we need. You can try to collect less information, stop backing up information that isn’t important, and avoid backups of backups except where redundancy is essential to keeping your business alive.
Dispersal refers to having data stored in many different locations. This leads to reduced efficiency as employees try to find information in several locations. Then there’s the fact that maintaining multiple systems costs more than maintaining a single data repository and document management system. When information is dispersed across multiple systems, ownership and responsibility for data verification, clean-up, and maintenance is fragmented and may not be done consistently.
Small businesses tend to struggle to keep up with a minimum number of people. IT staff may support hardware, software and the website. Engineers may supervise product design, maintenance, and support. Marketing may have to support sales and outreach efforts. And in the middle of all of this, no one worries about the data until a problem is found, and then they react, rushing to try to figure out what to do and how to do it. Few small businesses proactively set up a data strategy, but planning what information they need and how to handle it saves time, money and effort over the long term.
Data formatting problems can be caused by purchased mailing lists not using the same format as your system or having minor corruption problems. Batch address verification tools compare addresses entered against other databases to determine the real address, such as 123 Main Street Sec Fl to mean 123 Main Street 2nd Floor. An address validation batch tool takes over this tedious chore and automates it, comparing records against other sources like the postal service’s address lists. Not only does it save time, but you’ll avoid having marketing material returned because of errors in the address.
Automation can be a solution, such as automatically processing orders that people input on your website and sending it to the fulfillment center, or sending marketing emails to various customer segments based on the article lists selected by marketing weeks ago. Automation can even take over social media outreach by posting selected content marketing URLs and status updates, though you have to be careful not to post the wrong type of content to the wrong platform or accidentally schedule everything to post back to back.
Volume is as much a major problem for small businesses as well as large ones since they tend to collect all the information they can because they haven’t proactively developed a strategy of what info they need, how to collect it, and how to handle it. Small businesses often have data stored in many locations. Responsibility for maintaining the data or cleaning it up is equally fragmented, divided among people already stretched thin. Automation can reduce this workload, but can also create new problems if implemented wrong.