From my interactions with associations, it seems that large amounts of data are now available from web trends, member and customer purchases, and email statistics. But moving the data to information and then into actionable knowledge continues to be out of reach for many.
That’s why I found an article Wes Trochlil’s just wrote and shared with me of interest. The article is “What's Plaguing Associations 2008” and is based on interviews with over 100 association executives on the biggest data management challenges that they face. He highlighted three top challenges in his article:
- “System integration: integrating third-party systems and/or data to the primary database.
- Data integrity: Ensuring that the data in the database is up to date and accurate.
- System selection and implementation: selecting and implementing new association management systems.”
I encounter the first two problems regularly. As far as data integration, some organizations would benefit by appending third party data to their members and prospects, but have trouble adding this information to their CRM system. Some also end up maintaining multiple specialized databases in the organizations, but the knowledge is not linked from one to the other.
Data integrity is also a common challenge. Issues like entering marketing codes, keeping contact information up to date -- especially for former members, and consistent data standards are ongoing problems.
How have we dealt with this challenge? For the most part, we have found it necessary to extract data from clients’ databases in order to do clean up and analysis. The longer term solution may be to build data marts with the focus of gathering member and prospect behavior and slicing and dicing this into real marketing intelligence.
What do you think is the solution?