As organizations move applications to the Cloud where it makes sense to do so, they should recognize that this is an ideal opportunity to improve the value of the underlying data assets that feed these applications. After all, any system, Cloud or otherwise, is only as good as the data within it.
A "move to the Cloud" provides a unique opportunity to both ensure existing data is of the highest possible quality and to also install mechanisms to govern that all future data that enters the system is accurate, current, and complete
. This is especially ideal if data is also being moved from an existing internal database to a Database-as-a-service (DBAAS) product like SQL Azure or Amazon RDS, or a to a database that will be running on top of a Cloud service such as MySQL or SQL Server on Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, or any other Cloud platform.
As data is moving from its source database, where it currently exists, into its target Cloud database, you can take advantage of this ideal time to:
- Ensure all physical addresses are valid, accurate, current and complete
- Ensure all email addresses are live, working email addresses that have not been disabled or changed (otherwise, you could find yourself on spam lists simply by trying to contact your customers)
- Ensure all telephone numbers are valid, accurate, and current
- Ensure all data fields are consistent in content and individual data elements are non-ambiguous, making data analysis and the emerging field of data science much more effective
- Fill in all missing data where possible
- Eliminate duplicate contact and customer records
- Incorporate any other data-specific business rules and requirements that make sense for your organization
Also, the wise organization puts real-time data quality and data enhancement mechanisms in place at the points of data collection, such as a data entry form or within a Web-to-lead process, to ensure that all new data coming into a system is of the highest possible quality. This also prevents degradation of data over time, so the same set of issues do not occur again a short time later. Otherwise, this will lead to more cleansing efforts and cost downstream.
A significant part of the success of any Cloud initiative revolves around cleansing existing data during migration, getting real-time data quality mechanisms in place, and establishing an ongoing data management plan with metrics and goals for going forward. Don't let rare application migration opportunities such as this go to waste.
At the very heart of any CRM system is the data within it. To communicate effectively with customers and prospects requires a high level of current, accurate data about each and every contact record in the system. The same is true in order to have the best possible business intelligence as the foundation of decision making.
There are traditional software methods for achieving high quality data, but they typically can be expensive and time-consuming to implement, and even more costly to maintain. Using a "Data-as-a-Service" (Daas) approach provides an effective model for incorporating real-time data validation checks into a CRM system, including verifying the accuracy of email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses. A solution in the "Cloud" like DaaS allows an easy implementation because the integration is completed in advance by the vendor, hence the "turnkey" notion.
This Web-based approach also eliminates the need to update the data reference sources that serve as the basis of these data validation checks. This is because the frequent updates occur at a master data center that is pre-wired into the solution via the Cloud. The reference data utilizes the Internet and is accessed as needed, rather than stored as a separate, full copy and maintained at each and every site where the software is in use. Since data reference updates are automatic in the world of DaaS, there is no risk that the reference data becomes aged and gradually loses its usefulness as is what often happens with on-premise software solutions.
Finally, the Web/Cloud-based solutions have the advantage of usage-based business models rather than large, upfront software investments that come with a high degree of risk and typically include implementation costs. Rather, the DaaS business example enables a grow-as-you-succeed model which is generally best for an organization.
In the case of Oracle CRM On Demand, StrikeIron has collaborated with our partner ActivePrime to help deliver this type of turnkey, pre-integrated solution, improving the quality and usability of data within Oracle CRM On Demand. Within this solution, available now, a single click validates the critical points of contact data via the Web, with all reference data updated automatically. This enables a much better foundation of high quality data on which to operate a sales force or marketing organization, ultimately resulting in a much better CRM ROI. You can see the screen shots below for email address validation, phone number validation and mailing address validation.
It has been five years since Oracle CRM On Demand was released and now finally there is an integrated real-time data quality solution that is easy to turn on and put to use.
There is often a need within an organization to move data from point A to point B. One example is when user-submitted data, collected from a Web site, is moved into a CRM system. This typically results in a "lead" being created. Contact data from the user is collected in response to a form being filled out requesting more information about a certain offering, a question needing answering or another action indicating some level of interest in a company's products. All of these types of inquiries are fundamental interests of sales professionals.
The moving of the actual data to a CRM system could be in the form of a nightly batch load or as each single lead is collected. Either way, it is more important to ensure that only valid, complete information is loaded into the CRM system in order to optimize the time and increase the likelihood of success for the sales professional on the other end of the system.
A lot of time can be wasted by a sales organization by following up on phantom leads or leads with incorrect information. Ongoing communication and lead nurturing can also be severely affected if contact information is not valid or current. And finally, expensive, time-consuming "data cleansing" activities might have to be initiated downstream if an organization waits until volumes of incomplete or inaccurate data collects and builds within a CRM system over a long period of time.
One way to prevent this from happening is by using Informatica's Cloud product in conjunction with StrikeIron's Contact Record Verification Suite. StrikeIron has developed a plug-in for Informatica to manage this data migration process. The Cloud product uses Informatica's classic data integration technology in a SAAS scenario, enabling data to be loaded from many various systems, including Web-to-lead data into Salesforce.com. StrikeIron's Contact Record Verification Suite plug-in performs the actual phone number, address and email validation checks along the way. The joint offering is very easy to get up and running – no software to install, no hardware to prepare and no reference data to acquire.
This Cloud-based load-and-validate approach ensures that more accurate, complete and validated data actually gets into the CRM system with minimal effort, optimizing the time of sales executives. This process provides better communication and access with customers and prospective customers while preventing costly data cleansing activities to be performed down the road.
- Here is a video demonstration showing the joint solution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4-s6kRam6c
- Here is more information on the joint solution: http://www.strikeiron.com/Partners/PremierPartners/Informatica.aspx
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Acquiring "qualified" leads from a third party source can be of considerable value and a great time saver. High quality, well-targeted leads can drive and grow a business substantially in just about any vertical, especially in the era of global commerce and short sales cycles.
However, there are countless companies offering these targeted leads, and unfortunately these leads and the supporting data for each lead are of greatly varying quality. Poor quality leads can include invalid or missing contact information, contact data (including email addresses) that is no longer current, or other types of data inaccuracies.
Purchased leads with less than perfect contact information can render many of these individuals or organizations unreachable, and therefore a waste of important resources, including the cost of acquiring these leads. This can substanitally hurt the ROI of what might otherwise be a good campaign. In addition, knowing the quality level of leads can also help better score a particular campaign so it can be tweaked, improved, or even discontinued. However, if there is no handle on the level of lead quality for a given campaign, then there can be a great deal of frustration during analysis, especially when it comes time to report on campaign success metrics.
One thing that can be done to minimize the impact of poor lead quality is to validate the quality of leads received from any vendor, especially early on in the vendor relationship, but also on an ongoing basis. This type of quality testing is important as you employ multiple lead vendors, compare results across similar campaigns, and build lasting relationships with the vendors that provide the best lead data to drive your campaigns.
Fortunately, validating address data, ensuring correct telephone data, and verifying that email addresses are still enabled and actively receiving email can easily be achieved by solutions that leverage and apply the benefits of the "Cloud". Solutions such as StrikeIron's Contact Record Verification Suite and its lead validation APIs employ multiple, constantly updated reference data and algorithms to ensure the hightest possible lead quality, and can quickly and easily be integrated into any business process, Web site, or application that utilizes lead data. No software or management of reference data is required as all lead verification occurs in real-time via the Web. This easy, cost-effective process can go a long way in optimizing campaigns, comparing vendors, and achieving a successful, efficient marketing department that drives great value for the rest of the organization.
Amazon's new SES (Simple Email Service) product is a scalable, transaction-based offering for programmatically sending large amounts of email. This is accomplished using Amazon's Web-scale architecture, most especially for applications that already use EC2 (server rental) and S3 (storage rental). By utilizing SES you are essentially leveraging the "Cloud" to send emails from applications and Web sites rather than investing in your own software and hardware infrastructure to do so. This process substantially reduces cost and complexity as do most Cloud services and in this case requires only a simple API call. There is no network configuration or email server setup required in this process.
However, there are some significant restrictions to consider that Amazon has imposed on the user. The SES service will only let you start out with a limited quota until you build a "good reputation" within their system. The initial limit is 200 emails per day. This will increase substantially once you build your reputation within Amazon’s service.
One criteria used to "build your reputation" within Amazon is based on number of bouncebacks or emails that could not be delivered because the email address is invalid or has been disabled. Having a clean, verified email list prior to and during your ongoing use of the service is extremely important to minimize the number of bouncebacks you receive. If your use of SES returns a large number of bouncebacks from non-working email addresses, your quota will not be raised and you may be disqualified from using the system. Multiple bouncebacks can really hurt your reputation and will prevent you from being able to fully maximize Amazon's SES product.
Fortunately, you can use another Cloud-based service (available from StrikeIron) for verifying the validity of an email address before using Amazon's SES service (or any other email service). It is another simple API check that will indicate if a given email address is not valid (an actual non-intrusive, real-time check across the Web without ever sending an actual email). This is exactly one of the primary uses of StrikeIron's Email Verification Service- building email service provider reputation by significantly reducing bouncebacks and staying off of spam lists which can kill your ability to communicate with customers and prospective customers electronically.
As email technology becomes more sophisticated, so should those of us who make use of these technologies especially when it is so easy. The business upside can be dramatic and provide great results for companies.
StrikeIron offers an Email Verification Web Service
(can be easily integrated into applications, business processes and Web sites via SOAP and REST) that for the most part identifies whether or not an email address is a valid one (it exists and can receive email) without actually sending an email.
We use a series of "secret sauce" algorithms running in parallel across the Web, including some things like domain name existence checking, MX record analysis, SMTP conversations, and several other series of redundant checks to make this work.
Email verification/validation is important not only to filter out bogus email addresses, but also to stop sending email (such as newsletters) to email addresses that no longer exist (typically because someone no longer works at a company).
There are a broad range of benefits for this kind of capability, such as keeping off spam lists from mass emailing to non-working addresses, optimizing the time of a sales team by filtering out phantom leads, identity verification, and also triggering reach outs to contact lists when an invalid email address indicates that a current contact is no longer with a company. This last one can be important for several departments, including accounting/collections, sales, and marketing.
We have also done an integration of the capability into Salesforce.com
to make the email validation process within Salesforce seamless and very simple to turn on.
A simple concept, with a complex behind-the-scenes process, can be a big help on the path to success.