Taking an Evidence-based Approach to Data Storage

How much do you know about your organization’s current data storage solutions? The ultimate goal is that data is kept safe, secure, organized and accessible.

In our last blog post, we explored our recent research study findings, including how respondents collect data, what they collect, and why it’s so essential for everyone to house their own first-party data. In today’s post, we’ll dive into the study’s data storage results.

Data Storage Matters

A 2021 survey by Validity asked organizations to reflect on their customer retention management (CRM) perceptions, a standard data management solution. 44 percent say they lose 10 percent of their annual revenue due to low-quality CRM data. Additionally, 64 percent would consider leaving their jobs if their organizations failed to allot additional resources to a CRM data quality plan.

In partnership with Forrester, Salesforce found that 51 percent of professionals who work with data evaluated CRM quality on trust and security. We found that most respondents give their organizations very good ratings regarding privacy protections, systems used to store and access data, data accuracy, and data quality. The more robust a data security system is that customers trust, the more data can be collected. On the other hand, research suggests that poor data storage can become a challenge for organizations, for example:

1. An inferior data storage solution can cost your organization money (10 percent of annual             revenue according to 44 percent of respondents in Validity’s 2021 survey).
2. It can impact employee retention.
3. Data “silos,” or storing data in multiple locations, can reduce the insights you’ll get.
4. Data storage without safety and security comes with risks, including waning positive customer perceptions about your organization and a liability for the company.
5. Without organized, well-managed data, identifying, learning about and connecting with your     customers can be harder than it needs to be.

The key takeaway here: A data storage solution that does not meet your organization’s needs can impact your employees, customers and bottom line.

Without data storage can a company even exist in today’s business world? Whether you’re running a multi-million dollar company or a brand new startup, you need somewhere to house your customers’ information.

Data storage means the data is accessible—those who need to access the data can. It moves away from individual salespeople keeping their own private notes on leads. If that employee leaves, all that data goes with them unless it’s been stored properly. An efficient data storage solution links departments and removes data silos.

Data storage should also mean that the data is secure and customers’ privacy is being protected. People who shouldn’t have access to the data don’t. Customers should be reassured that you are protecting their data and that it won’t be used for anything they haven’t agreed to.

To make sure you have the features you need, spend time talking with all your organization’s stakeholders to develop a detailed use case. Think about what your data should be able to do for you. Who needs access to which pieces of information? Are you only using data for the purposes you have told your customers about? It’s important to have a clear goal for the data you collect, not just amass data because it’s “nice to have.”

The quality of your data is everything. Even in a fast-paced world, don’t cut corners because it will hinder your data. Getting a number wrong in someone’s contact information will render it useless. Work with your team and the appropriate departments at your company to develop a system for how things are entered and what the formatting is. This will make auditing or moving your data a much easier and more efficient process. Additionally, you won’t miss out on valuable insights that could make or break that big deal.

Methods for Data Storage

It’s easy to get confused between database software and CRM because they both deal with data. Database software stores organized data so it’s easy to access, search and use. On the other hand, CRM uses that data to aid the customer relationship, which also includes reporting and analysis.

Almost all of the respondents from our survey say their organizations store data in either database software, CRM or a spreadsheet like Excel. About one-third of respondents say they use all three of these methods. Out of the people who use database software, 46 percent say it’s off-the-shelf with the ability to add custom coding and functionality. 72 percent of respondents say they use their CRM often to do their jobs. For more information related to the pros and cons of various data storage solutions, check out our blog on the subject.

There is no clear winner in terms of which type of CRM respondents use for data storage. One-third of respondents say it’s custom-built; one-third say it’s custom-built with custom coding/functionality options; and one-third say it’s off-the-shelf. Additionally, 84 percent of respondents say their CRM is a single system used to store and manage data across departments. Regardless of segment, respondents rate their CRM system highly on it being professional, helpful, up-to-date or easy.

Though very few respondents are dissatisfied with their CRM, when they are, they say it’s because their CRM is time-consuming, labor-intensive and requires training for proper use.

There weren’t any differences between attitudinal segments when it comes to these data points, which suggests that these are common realities on data storage insights for anyone who is working with data regularly as part of their day-to-day job.

A key takeaway from these data insights is that everyone should have some sort of CRM. That could be a simple spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets or a bigger investment from Salesforce. Either option is fine, but having a CRM is the important thing.

From our experience, the best CRMs are the ones that your team will actually use. Ask the team members that will be utilizing it the most what their wants and needs are before you choose one. Additionally, make sure to build in time to train your team on how to use the CRM so that you are able to take advantage of its features. Training can also help your team use the CRM consistently. Also, having policies in place—like how you want data formatted and entered and how often—will help your team use the CRM more often and more efficiently.

In our next blog, we’ll share our research findings about the challenges organizations face around data.

To learn more about the research study, check out our entire executive summary here. And to explore the data yourself, check it out here