Big data has been a clear focus and business case for some time now, with organizations making major strides in how they put data to use. Whether it is to better understand customers or business processes, data is a driving force in most digital transformations.
Data is especially important when it comes to implementation of ecommerce platforms and new selling strategies, as data collection and how to use it should be the driving forces in what tools and vendors you choose to align with.
While enduring a new website initiative it’s important to understand the data needs early on and plans to feed data from internal systems for processing and storage. Internal systems need to be prepared for data transfers from catalog content, SKUs, category mapping and attributes. It’s vital to start talking about data issues in the beginning of any ecommerce project.
Data is everything. It is your website’s asset, operations and method of understanding the trends on your website. Bad data planning can lead to code errors, site crashes (yes! you can crash a system with garbage characters) and poor user experience. All companies can have messy data, but B2B companies especially can have a hard time with data management and governance. Many B2B businesses are just moving to digital, some still haven’t made the leap yet. B2C companies usually have better data practices because their business model depends on it.
There are B2B companies that can be called data dinosaurs because they are just not ready to go online. They may need to build a whole new infrastructure that can work with current and future digital initiatives since that future will be defined by data. Better data means better opportunities. Machine learning and personalization opportunities are all based on data. B2B businesses that want to succeed and grow in a digital domain must begin to make data a priority.
How do I get started?
Tackle data on day one. Meet with your IT and system data miners to talk over your data needs, issues, concerns and discuss potential data problems. Confirm who will be responsible for the management, delivery and support of the data for the website which will help you determine if you need additional resources to help get the data in the format your website platform and developers can work with.
Ask questions and get clear answers to data topics like:
- Is the data in different silos?
- Will the data have to be manually entered or can it be automated?
- Is the data junk? Will additional steps need to be performed before the data can be used?
- What format can I get the data in?
- Do I need additional applications to read data and send data?
- What are the data security issues I need to be aware of?
Having to deal with product exclusions or customers’ complex pricing are data issues and while building a website is one thing, having a system that can adequately handle data is another. How well your website platform manages data will determine how robust your site will be. If your website project requires a lot of data heavy lifting, you may have to consider additional applications, such as a PIM for product catalogs or a webservice for data EDI management.
Making a Case for Data Integrity, Governance and Compliance
It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that many B2B companies are struggling with data compliance and data integrity issues. More and more data laws and regulations are coming into effect, making it more important than ever for an organization to make data integrity and governance a priority.
Key takeaways when it comes to data:
- Consumer data privacy laws, cookie policies, data tracking as well as state, federal and corporate compliance regulations will need to be addressed on your website.
- PCI compliance and other serious regulations have legal ramifications that could be levied if data processes and awareness are not handled properly online.
- Consider creating a data committee to help work through data policies and compliance adherence.
- Have a serious conversation with your boss, leadership team and your corporate legal counsel. There may be a lot of details and tasks to work out both on and offline in order for your company and the website to be in compliance.