So here we are, halfway through 2013. You, along with everyone, are still trying to find that magic formula to find the perfect 360-degree view of your clients. You have diligently sought out every feed of data you can get your hands on, analyzed it all every which way you can imagine, and have come up with a complete list of historical views, tracked trends and have formulated a plan for future growth. You create a killer slide deck for the executive presentation, practice every poignant detail and rehearse every quip with just the right pause for reaction included. The morning of the presentation comes and you are all set. None of the poppy seeds from the morning bagel are stuck in your teeth, your pitcher of water is set, all the tech gadgets and lighting are functioning perfectly, and off you go. Everything is going smoothly through the first segment, where all the facts and figures from all your research line up just as they should. All eyes on the screen, no one peeking or poking at their phones … and then … it happens. Innocently enough at first, out of the corner of your eye, you see someone lean back in the chair and raise their hand with a question.
Halfway through that question, as the floor is dropping out from under you, you discover that a whole segment of the business never made it into your analysis. How could that happen? You tracked down and incorporated every source, every feed and every kind of data that was known. Except now, you find out about the secret sauce. The double top secret source of key results and revenue that somehow makes it into the corporate financials, but there is no paper trail or general knowledge of the details around it.
Ahh, yes. You’ve been introduced to the mystical world of Data Hoarding.
It was back in the mid 1980s when I was first thrust into its grasp, back in the days of room-sized mainframes, R2D2-sized hard disk drives with storage capacity topping out at 200mb, and the all-important reel-to-reel tape storage system that was the affordable option for most data centers. So important and prevalent were those reel-to-reel tapes that they required a dedicated library room, complete with a complicated filing system and dedicated Tape Librarians to keep track of it all.
The chief librarian is pacing the hall outside my office when I arrive—never a good sign to start the day—with the news that, while selecting the tapes and disks required for that day’s production schedule, he discovered that the year-to-date transaction tape for one of our clients is missing. And the search begins. Row by row, we search the library, the computer room, anywhere that it could have been misfiled. But no such luck. I have the offsite storage facility search their inventory, as well. But it isn’t there. Next, I head over to see the account team for suggestions, only to find that the production manager for that client is on vacation. This being in the days before cell phones, he is unreachable, camping in one of the great National Parks. Escalating next, we head over to the office of the vice president for guidance and then up the chain of command until we are sitting in the CEO’s office, trying to decide if we call the client, or if there’s another possible solution. Picking up his phone, the CEO calls an old classmate in Washington D.C. and, within minutes, we are conferenced in with the main Ranger office at the Park where our colleague is camping. To this day, I still don’t know how they did it, but within a couple of hours the Rangers have located him in the wilderness, drove him back to the office, where he calls to let us know that that the missing tape is in the lower left drawer of his desk … “So that it would not accidently get erased.”
The justifications for current day Data Hoarding are really just as inane and counterproductive as hiding an important file outside of the system. The salesman who hoards his leads and prospects is hurting both himself and the company. He is not keeping his “hot leads” away from competitors or even in-house sharks looking for any crumbs. Instead, by thinking proactively and having his prospect info bounce up against existing client contacts and transactions, it permits him to see RFM data that he can use for upsell, cross-sell and offer packaging opportunities as a value-add. The brand director, by not sharing her latest product offerings and upgrades across the enterprise, handcuffs her client services and sales teams who have contacts clamoring for the most cutting-edge tools to improve ROI. Harvest that low-hanging fruit that provides quick, easy, effortless, revenue straight to the bottom line. And, following the theme of the opening scenario, having all these pockets of information going to waste as it stagnates in a desk drawer limits the ability of Analysts, Finance, Marketing, even HR to measure and forecast corporation-wide goals and initiatives.
The data you are sitting on is the single most valuable resource that your organization owns. Francis Bacon was right. Knowledge is Power. Gather it religiously, nurture it endlessly, enhance it vigorously. Most importantly, marry it to every other data touchpoint available with the ultimate goal of monetizing every insight it provides.
—Savoir, c’est pouvoir