Your business consumes and generates large amounts of data every day. Whether you have a defined database strategy or not, you are likely already using this information to make key business decisions. But how much better could you perform if you were able to work smarter with your data?

Data feeds business growth

Data is what helps organisations quantify things like operational performance, ROI, sales and retention rates, quality levels, customer lifetime value and much more. Yet, surprisingly many businesses don’t have a defined database strategy to capture and apply this important information in their organisation.

What do you need to know?

Before developing your database strategy, you need to have a clear view of what your overall business goals look like. From these goals, you can identify the questions you want your data to answer. Your questions will serve as a great starting point when figuring out which type of data to focus on capturing and analysing.

Examples of data-driven questions could be…

  • How many active customers do we have, and what is our capacity?
  • How much do we spend on acquiring a new customer?
  • What do we sell most of – and when do people buy it?
  • How satisfied are our customers?
  • Are there any gaps in our product or service offering?
  • Where can we improve productivity?

Databases across the business

Your business generates data in various areas and formats. Let’s take a look at some of the most common database types that the average business typically uses.

  • Sales and order management
    Whether you have an e-commerce website, an online ordering system or manual order management software, you will most likely have access to a treasure trove of valuable sales data. This is information that can help you understand customer behaviour, spot trends, and notice changing demand over time. This sales data can support you in tailoring your marketing and business development activities to get the best possible value from your customer base.
  • Accounting
    Your accounting software is built on an intricate database structure, tying all your financial information together. And while many companies use extracts and reports from their accounting software to use in their decision-making, there is often a lot of interesting data left behind unused. By connecting your accounting database to other data sources in the business you can create a highly intelligent, compound view of your overall business performance.
  • CRM
    A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is another type of database that should never be used as a standalone library of information. There is incredible strength in connecting the CRM system to other databases for sales, marketing, financials, projects, administration and more. A smart use of CRM will allow you to capture not only your customer’s contact information but their history of engagement, their behavioural profile, their buyer patterns, satisfaction levels, and much more.
  • Marketing and communications
    Your marketing automation solution is also based on a database structure. In an ideal world, this system is of course fully integrated with your CRM (or possibly even a built-in extension of it). This system is where you track any campaign-driven interactions with your customer base. It typically covers automated emails, social media activity, and website activity. It captures data that tells you how your communications are being received – such as email open rates, unsubscribes, views, likes and shares. Used well, this data can provide invaluable insight into marketing ROI.
  • Project management
    Project-specific data is another source of insight that is often not used to its full potential. If your teams are using software to log their activities over time, you will have the ability to use this data to analyse not only business productivity but also to understand how various project activities contribute to the financial value of your customers.

Consolidate and analyse

As we can see here, simply gathering these different types of data only delivers very limited value. It’s not enough to have databases in place, but you need to find ways to consolidate this data into compound, enriched information.

Detailed and customised analysis of your business data is a powerful tool for decision-making which can make your organisation smarter, more agile and – ultimately – more competitive.

Databases vs spreadsheets

You may already have invested in databases for certain functions, but if areas of your business still handle critical business data manually in Excel spreadsheets it’s important to start transitioning towards automation as soon as possible. Aim to set up a database strategy that allows you to easily capture, process, analyse and visualise your data at the touch of a button.