The way businesses collect and use data is broken.

We understand the importance of data, particularly for go-to-market and revenue-operations teams that contend with shifting markets, competitors, and customer demands. Everyone is obsessed with being data driven, because data gives us the information we need to take the right actions and make better decisions.

At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen.

In reality, we struggle to capture the data we need, and when we are able to capture it we don’t know how to find it when we need it most. Sound familiar? If you’re struggling to get value from your data, know that you’re not alone.

We know we need data to win . . .

In fact, 76% of 1,300 global businesses that data platform Splunk surveyed in 2019 agreed that "the organization that has the most data is going to win."

Revenue operations and customer-facing teams, in particular, understand the value stored within Salesforce, Zendesk, Intercom, Hubspot, and other CRM tools. These teams have to manage a constant flow of incoming data about their prospects, customers, and ever-changing markets. They have to try to stay on top of what’s new across myriad tools and applications.

Without that data, they can’t

  • adapt to new demand or changing markets,

  • track deal progression,

  • understand what’s happening in other departments,

  • monitor rep performance and coach effectively, or

  • get a full picture of the business.

But over half of our data goes unused.

Despite the value of data, over half of it goes into a black hole.

The companies that responded to last year’s Splunk survey admitted that 63% of their data is “dark,” or unused. More than a third (36%) of U.S. respondents said they don’t tap into 75% or more of the data they collect.

But just because data goes unused doesn’t mean it’s useless. While data can go dark if it’s outdated or incomplete, valuable data too often goes dark because it’s not easy to access, its value isn’t clear, or it’s forgotten.

What happens when we let our data go dark?

 

We cripple our go-to-market agility.

When data goes dark or unused, we can’t react proactively or quickly to changing customer demands. There’s no way to realize what’s happening around us so we can shift positioning, pricing, or targets to account for emerging trends, new competitors, or other leading indicators.

We make poorer decisions.

Data provides a view of the big picture as well as the nuances of our most important deals.

When we don’t leverage all of the information available to us, we make decisions without context. We move a deal along without identifying all of the decision makers. We sign up a customer who doesn’t meet our minimum technical requirements. Or we step in to prevent a customer from churning without understanding why they chose a competitor over us.

We waste money.

Hosting data can get expensive. This is especially true if we’re not able to use it to close more deals or retain more customers.

For example, part of HubSpot’s pricing factors in the number of contacts in your database. Go beyond 10,000 marketing contacts and you’re looking at a $3,200-a-month plan.

That price point makes more sense for teams that routinely manage their contacts, culling unqualified leads from the list and removing people who don’t engage for long periods. But let that database grow untouched for too long and the cost may outweigh the benefit.

In addition, there’s the opportunity cost of having a lot of data we don’t use effectively. It’s like knowing you have a gold mine on your property without having a way to extract the value.

Why is our data so difficult to manage?

We struggle to keep up with incoming data. We silo it in different applications and systems. We rely on a handful of experts to manage it. And we use tools that often further complicate our workflows.

MKatz quote.001

Our systems are disconnected (from each other and from our people).

How do you get the full picture when your marketing data lives in HubSpot, Autopilot, and Optimizely; your sales data lives in Salesforce, Gong, and Chorus; and your customer data lives in Zendesk, Intercom, and Kissmetrics?

You don’t.

On average, small businesses (50 or fewer employees) use 40 apps, according to a 2019 SaaS trends study by Blissfully. That number only grows with the company size. Midsize enterprise companies (200-501 employees) leverage 123 apps, while large enterprise companies (1,000+ employees) rely on over 200 apps.


Number-of-Apps-per-Company
 

And those apps rarely talk to each other. There’s no central hub that pulls in all of the data related to a deal as it moves through the pipeline. So, even though a deal might require input from every team in the company — marketing, sales, customer success, product, legal, and more — those people have to make do with only some of the information they need.

Every day, people on go-to-market teams have to navigate more than a dozen apps and tools just to do their jobs. That context switching across tools and apps is time consuming and stressful. It cripples performance. And it makes collaboration near impossible.

What’s just as bad is that people can’t see all of the data because they don’t have access to all of the systems and databases. A sales rep can’t pop into Zendesk to see how many tickets have been filed for deals that are supposed to close that quarter. An SDR doesn’t have access to Looker to learn more about how people are using the product. This information can help people across the team take better action and excel at their work, but it’s frequently unavailable to them. It’s in that black hole of dark data.

We don’t have SUFFICIENT expertise.

Companies rely on dedicated professionals, like Salesforce (SFDC) administrators, to manage their data and systems of record.

This expertise can take years to develop in house. Hiring isn’t any better, with a shortage of qualified SFDC professionals driving up average salaries to around $100,000.

Relying on a few experts doesn’t give us much operational flexibility, either. What happens if they can’t keep up with the rise of incoming data? What happens if they can’t answer critical questions quickly enough? What happens if they leave for another job?

Those of us who can’t invest in experts expect our tools to help us manage and use our data. Unfortunately . . .

Our tools don’t work for humans.

We have loads of data, but we don’t have loads of free time. We don’t have sufficiently specialized skill sets. Yet our tools make us take on the burden of manicuring data sets and searching for those gold nuggets we know must be there. Somewhere.

Right now, it’s up to us to

  • gather the data,

  • find it when we need it,

  • share it with the right people,

  • analyze it and collaborate on it, and

  • make decisions with it.

This process takes up a lot of time and effort. Really, we should only be doing some of those things. We need our tools to handle more of the load for us.

It’s time for go-to-market teams to flip the script.

The status quo of data isn’t working.

Instead of using databases to simply store our data, we need to figure out how to get them to pull more of the weight. We need to find ways to equip and enable everyone with the right information at the right time. We need tools that make it easy to find and share valuable data across teams so they can use it to collaborate and make better decisions. We need to be able to share all of the data about an account with all of the people who need to know, without requiring everyone to have the ability to log in to each and every system that holds that data.

There’s a way forward. We need to put our data to work for our humans. We need to flip the script so that:

  • The data we need to do our jobs finds us, when and where we need it

  • Humans are able to execute and perform in an informed, intentional, and efficient manner

  • It’s easy to share information with everyone involved, so that collaboration is frictionless

  • Leadership can make strategic decisions at an agile pace (and actually trust the data informing them)

Only then will humans be able to reap the true value of their data and experience software that is truly at their service.

Dive into The Future of Data at Work Depends on Revenue Communications to learn how teams become more agile, effective, and productive by changing the way their data works for them.