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Data is the New Oil

By Evan Natelson - October 2, 2020


Use Salesforce to get the most out of this precious resource

Petroleum, which is refined oil, is one of the most heavily consumed products in the world. Also known as “Black Gold,” it is a key component in hundreds of products – gasoline, energy generation, tires, nail polish, plastics, perfumes, petroleum jelly, antiseptics, food preservatives, yarn, paint, refrigerant, balloons, toothpaste, and soap. With this much dependence on oil, it’s understandable that the industry is one of the most profitable in the world. In fact, John D. Rockefeller amassed one of the largest fortunes in American history thanks to this crude liquid.

But the world of oil is changing. This is partly due to its role in the climate crisis, but it’s also because society is transitioning to the digital realm. Email and texting are now more popular than the telephone, commuting is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, ecommerce has overtaken physical retail stores, and services ranging from banking to education have abundant online offerings. As activity shifts to this new format, consumers will be less reliant on outdated products like oil.

Data is the new oil. In 2017, the Economist wrote, “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data,” and the global enterprises of today are thriving because of it. Data powers all websites, directs all marketing activities, enables upselling and cross-selling, facilitates international workforce management, enables search, fosters communication, and much more. To leverage these vast resources, a data infrastructure must be in place, and it must be capable of collecting, processing, organizing, analyzing, and disseminating the information.

Salesforce helps you analyze and refine your data by providing the tools needed to securely store, manipulate, automate, and share it. Salesforce allows an ecommerce website to recommend products based on a history of similarly purchased items. It allows businesses to reach out to prospects with customizable advertisements on a set schedule. It also helps companies forecast supply and demand peaks and valleys. Now, instead of guessing, organizations can make strategic, data-based decisions quickly and confidently. Customer service becomes less burdensome to the customer, and agents become more productive. The list of benefits goes on and on.

Many companies are already harnessing their data and using it to supercharge various aspects of their business. Amazon Fresh leverages data analytics to decide which markets to move into and when the time is right. Amazon’s Whole Foods uses data to better understand which customers buy what groceries, and then they use that information to keep specific stores fully stocked. Netflix tailors its offerings based on massive amounts of user behavior data. Coca-Cola has said that customer feedback and demographic data has immeasurably advanced their brand. And the benefits are not limited to large enterprises: with Salesforce, small and mid-sized companies can profit from these same advantages.

In order to properly leverage data, several things should be considered:

  • Data governance and training are necessary to assure that usable, trusted data is being added to the database. If data is not consistent, or if the people responsible for entering it are not trained properly, the analytics generated will be difficult to understand and unreliable.
  • Automation is critical, as it allows business to save money and do more with fewer resources. Examples of processes that can be automated include:
  1. Data enhancement
  2. Increased communication
  3. Process innovation
  4. Data source upgrades

Each of these expands the reach and accuracy of the information that is collected by:

  1. Processing raw data with sophisticated formulas to enhance real-time opportunities
  2. Communicating information to key stakeholders
  3. Initiating processes to get more accurate data
  4. Transferring data to other sites on the internet to update those data sources or retrieve new data based on the modifications
  • Integrating your database with in-house or external data sources is a must. Many companies use multiple databases to store different kinds of data. Additionally, third-party data sources can be used to provide data from leads, marketing efforts, businesses, government, etc. Tightly integrating this data with Salesforce better informs your analyses and can help you uncover important correlations.
  • Establishing a user-friendly, accessible database is important for getting buy-in, and it ultimately paves the way for successful data initiatives. Salesforce is a read/write database, and if it’s not easy to use, people will not want to use it. Also, if teams are reluctant to use it, the data in the database will be less reliable and out of date.
  • Determine KPIs from the outset (Key Performance Indicators), and then build reports and dashboards to help you visualize this data in real-time. Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Whatever is measured can be managed,” and it is important to keep your KPIs and desired reports in mind as you architect your database.

The trend toward increasing dependence on data will not be short-lived. To keep up, customers, managers, and strategists need access to timely, reliable information. Properly configuring and customizing Salesforce will make all parties happy and allow them to reach their business goals. The most successful businesses right now will be the ones that can address rapidly changing needs and quickly refine their stockpile of data.

If you need help with this, please reach out to Customertimes. We will be happy to share the solutions that can help you get more from your data.

This post was originally posted on LinkedIn.

Evan Natelson

Evan Natelson is a Salesforce Consultant at Customertimes. He has more than 14 years of Salesforce experience in Administrator, Business Analyst, Project Manager, and Consultant roles and has been awarded 5 Salesforce certifications.