When embarking on the digital transformation journey, we are sometimes faced with making decisions regarding the many paths we should take to get to our destination. These paths will manifest themselves as different vendors, with different platform offerings, all with their own vision of what digital transformation is. Normally, before we embark on any trip, we always make sure that all the basic preparations to make the trip a success are planned. That’s why we should discuss the first bit of preparation in any digital journey, and that is data.

The assumption I am making is that you are managing a business which is considering digital transformation. Like any other business your finance team works hard to maintain your transactional data in order, but what if I was to say that there is another set of data that is sometimes ignored and not maintained as diligently as financial data. What I am referring to is customer data.

Customer data comes in many different forms, a typical small to medium business would have a plethora of data repositories, some governed by the business and others not so. Email systems, cloud files, excel spreadsheets, stand-alone databases, mobile devices, and computers are just some examples of where customer data lives and is managed by your company representatives.

I know that some of you have heard of CRM or customer relationship management software, now briefly if you haven’t heard of this software has been around for a long time, but what it allows you to do is to contain all your customer data in one place. This is different to your finance software because it doesn’t just store transactional data and all the regulatory information that revolves around sales, but the peripheral data of your customer.

Why is this additional set of data so important you may ask, well this data is at the core of the digital transformation journey. Collecting and curating your customer data will eventually provide your business with key insights into who your customers are, and therefore allowing you to build future integrated marketing communications. These insights will allow your sales and marketing teams to build impactful campaigns that will seem more personalised and be delivered at the right moment, no matter where in the adoption ladder your customer is.

The first step in any digital transformation project is to make sure that the fundamentals are in place, and this includes accurate, timely and organised data. There are other data sets and other fundamentals, that when overlayed on top of one another can provide valuable predictive information regarding your customers. We will discuss some of these strategies and tools in later conversations.

In the meantime, if your current activities include looking to profile your target market or maybe you want to build better customer relationships, data can help you achieve this.

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