How to execute a database centralization project

March 12, 2014 by Erin Callahan

Marketers are constantly looking to better understand the consumer and create a consistent customer experience. While this is an amiable goal, many marketers are unable to make strategic decisions due to poor data management practices.

Marketers are often only looking at a small segment of the information available to them for decision making. Maintaining separate databases for a variety of departments is common practice. In fact, according a recent Experian Data Quality study, the average company maintains eight different databases.

That means that marketers may only be reviewing data within their immediate database rather than information collected from customer interactions, purchase history and preferences from around the company. That lack of a single customer view makes it difficult to compete in the digital age. All information collected, regardless of the channel, needs to be utilized in decision making and interactions across all mediums.

One of the first steps in better communicating with customers is to consolidate all existing data sources into one central repository. While this is not a marketing-only task, it is a business objective that can be driven by marketing and is imperative to successful consumer interaction.

To combine records into a central source, organizations need to:

  1. Identify and analyze existing records — To get started, organizations should identify the various sources of information within the business and analyze the contents of those databases to understand how information is shared. This will serve as a foundation for consolidating information later on.
  2. Standardize information — Standardizing and verifying information for accuracy is essential, especially for contact data. Data accuracy will not only ensure better information for analysis and interaction, but will also help to identify duplicate entries.
  3. Merge files into a central record — Utilize duplicate identification software to identify duplicates and remove the possibility of human error. Once potential duplicates are found, a golden record can be identified and all information can fall within the record.

By consolidating records into a central source across the organization, marketers and other key business departments will have a more complete picture of the customer. This will enable better customer interactions that are built upon past experiences rather than just the current moment.

Get more information, read our white paper on the state of data quality.