Can Business Automation Solve Your Data Quality Problems?

October 7, 2015
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  1. Business Process

Can Business Automation Solve Your Data Quality Problems?

All businesses are at the mercy of data quality challenges. From the moment you capture your first lead, you’ll be fighting a battle against data decay. The bigger the database gets, the more problems the business can encounter, and it isn’t easy to single out a particular cause.

  1. Business Process

Can Business Automation Solve Your Data Quality Problems?

All businesses are at the mercy of data quality challenges. From the moment you capture your first lead, you’ll be fighting a battle against data decay. The bigger the database gets, the more problems the business can encounter, and it isn’t easy to single out a particular cause.

Often, data simply goes out of date over time – a natural ageing process that affects all business data. But there are other reasons for poor accuracy: spelling mistakes, accidental duplicates, or incorrect entries in fields, to name but three. The less accurate the data is, the less successful marketing campaigns are. Poor accuracy also interferes with reporting, sales and support and ultimately the bottom line.

For businesses trying to integrate their systems and software, a new data quality problem emerges. Linking two systems together can result in data mismatches, invalid entries, and duplicated fields. When employees add data manually, there’s the simple possibility that they’ll spell something wrong. As soon as you integrate systems together, the mistakes spread like a virus.

In an ideal world, businesses would rely heavily on business process automation. It lets employees replace manual work with a pre-defined, repeatable process that fires automatically. But why is this so important, and how can businesses contain data quality risks?

Why Automate?

Admin, paperwork and process can cause huge amounts of drag on productivity. SMEs are particularly vulnerable to this, since there are fewer employees covering everything that needs to be done. The longer processes take, the less profit-earning tasks can be carried out; the more manual input, the more chance there is of human error. Data is one of a business’ biggest assets, and the business must protect its data against quality degradation.

This is especially true when a business uses a CRM as the central hub for its data. Employees need to know that the CRM is timely, reliable and accurate. If they lose trust in the CRM, or experience problems due to its poor data quality, they are less likely to trust automation.

But automation presents numerous benefits. When the business translates a process into a pre-defined set of rules, linking different parts of the process together, it starts bringing data in from different sources. Cumbersome, slow admin tasks can be replaced with lightning-fast, efficient automated processes. Employees get the information they need more quickly, and are freed from the constraints of repetitive work. Data can also be enhanced automatically using third party sources.

Business process automation can pay dividends in any department, but is particularly well suited to areas where a workflow is in use. This may include order fulfilment, recruitment or accounting, but can extend to sales and support as well.

Because each process runs automatically, there are fewer chances for faults to creep in. This results in cost and efficiency savings, and a better experience for your customer. Rules ensure that data is cohesive and compatible from one part of the process to the next, and businesses can access it readily using APIs, making reporting and analysis quicker than ever.

The Challenges of Business Automation

One of the biggest issues in business is data quality, and automation must be adopted with a focus on maintaining accuracy. If there are duplicates, invalid records or missing data, the whole automation process may be undermined.

In a survey from Demand Gen Report, nearly 85 per cent of respondents said they knowingly run CRM automation with 10-40 per cent bad data. With such a staggeringly high chance of failure, you might wonder why they don’t do something about it. In truth, automating processes is not easy without software that is capable of bringing disparate systems together.

The key is to ensure each part of the automated process is capable of speaking to the others in a language that both understand, and ‘translating’ data into certain formats before it is allowed to flow through the process. Standardisation of data is essential. From the character encoding down to the format of a date, every part of the process needs to be compliant.

Business Automation Payoffs

Business process automation can be the key driver to better integration between systems. Once you automate processes, you can start to build a better picture. Third party services can tap into your data, while existing systems can talk to each other much more quickly.

In turn, this results in a more accurate single customer view. Data that flows through the system can be checked for accuracy constantly, improving its accuracy without the need to bring in any other systems.

With the right software, the business can achieve better efficiency without the need for extensive programming. Modern business automation software offers ‘drag and drop’ rule building, making it instantly accessible without the need to hard code rules or formulae.