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by Matt Manning

No matter how many articles are written about the critical importance of data to the functioning of a modern enterprise, it remains a fact that keeping critical data up-to-date is only a reality for a handful of well-heeled firms. The senior executives at these companies know that a small slip-up in understanding a prospective or existing customer’s business can make a relationship with that firm difficult to impossible and the size of these deals more than justifies the expense of constant diligence.

But what about the sea of middle managers working for the majority of firms? These are the folks traditionally served by industry-specific b-to-b media. They also frequently have a rat’s nest of data in their CRM systems, their deal sizes are smaller, and they have no budget or time to untangle the messes they inherit.

Enter the Chief Data Officer.

Never has this role been more important. Whether you prefer the metaphor of data as infrastructure or data as a raw material essential to decision-making, there’s no doubt that the person managing your data understands your pain and knows how to assuage it. It is also likely the CDO knows that a dollar spent on clean data yields several dollars in return and knows how to get at this ROI.

Since we work with so many CDOs, we have multiple examples of these ROI calculations here at IEI. Let me share a few scenarios with you.

How much is it worth to truly understand your market share? For less than $15K IEI was able to tell a major US clothing retailer the names of the vendors serving prospects who weren’t their customers, the contact info for purchasing managers at those prospects, and the names and contact information for emerging prospects. The project involved data harvesting, telephone verification, and a whole lot of data wrangling.

What is the value of knowing about new enterprises and operations in your core markets? These new entrants tend to buy everything at first, and the vendors who get in the door first can often have a long, profitable relationship with these firms. Monitoring public filings and news sources for thousands of firms costs less with each passing year, and a one-week edge on the competition may be an annuity that pays off for years to come. We’ve monitored drilling permits, professional licenses, EPA filings, IRS filings, and business news to find this data as soon as it breaks for a wide range of clients, usually for just dollars a day.

Where do my old customers go when they leave their firm? Businesses are increasingly realizing the value of following their happy customers to their new employers. Now a “cold call” is a happy reunion of partners with your old customer basking in the glow of their honeymoon period, when their budget requests are approved more often than not. The process of following and replacing customers in a CRM database or a subscription-based data service is merely a matter of some elbow grease and lean processes applied by a trusted vendor for around a dollar an update. Convert 2% of those updates and you’re probably way ahead of the game.

So when you read the latest report on “data is the next X,” please feel free to skip the hype and get back to basic question: Where are the clogs in my data supply chain that are keeping the revenue from flowing? And, who’s got the Drano?

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posted by Shyamali Ghosh on April 25, 2018

by Matt Manning

New product development for information services is a risky business. It takes deep customer insight, rigorous data analysis, management buy-in, and no small amount of gumption for a new information service to succeed.

The variables involved in success include:

  • An unmet need: The solution to one or more of a businessperson’s more vexing professional problems.
  • A barrier to entry: Unique, exclusive, or hard-to-find information.
  • A compelling user experience: The form and function of the service.
  • Anchor tenants: A guaranteed set of early-adopters eager to purchase your new service.
  • Timing: A salubrious economic climate puts wind in your sails while an untimely recession can scuttle even the best of launches.

Due diligence should allow you to ‘run the table’ on all of these variables (apart from the blind luck of timing and the dart art of pricing), but there is one guaranteed way to reduce the risk of a product launch: Keep the cost of the new product as low as possible.

Skimping on marketing outlays is a potentially fatal error that falls into the “pennywise but pound foolish” category, while keeping your product creation costs low is something that can make a huge difference. For example, if a product’s break-even cost is 250 subscribers, then getting 500 subs is a runaway success. If break-even is at 750 subs then you may be updating your LinkedIn profile earlier than you thought when only 500 seats get sold.

So how do you keep content creation costs low? Building an extremely fresh database and designing a low-cost and low-maintenance data-updating process is not something that too many publishers, let alone outsourced vendors, can do. IEI, however, was built for this challenge and we have a track record of successful product launches for our customers to prove it.

When you get wind of ‘the next big thing’ come ask us what it will take to get to a minimally viable product with a solid data supply chain in place. With a strong initial customer user experience you, too, may be able to drive early renewals and thus guarantee the longevity of your new service.

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posted by Shyamali Ghosh on February 20, 2018