After concluding the data collection effort, it is time to merge the new data with previously existing data. This should be done with being mindful of continued research efforts conducted in the future so that your data management approach is not short sighted. Through this process, you will begin to understand and clearly explain the complete view of your customer.
In the first three phases, you took an internal inventory of existing data, created a research plan, and executed the data collection stage. If all has gone according to said research plan, you should be able to start filling gaps and holes in your existing customer database. This effort must be organized and tactful to ensure maximizing the value of newly collected data.
Access the Inventory of Customer and Product Related Information
Revisit Phase 1 (Existing Data Inventory) to ensure that you have located and organized all previously existing data sets. Once again, review the existing gaps within those data sets to ensure all relevant stakeholders understand how the new data will complement the existing data.
Coordinate With Appropriate Stakeholders
Part of the value of these research efforts is addressing the needs of your company as a whole. Here it is important to involve relevant stakeholders to ensure the data merge can accurately and directly address the various needs of all departments. Merging data is more complicated than simply saving all files together in one location. Rather, it is a calculated effort to determine where pieces fit to best answer your original research questions.
Merge Data to Conduct In-Depth Analysis with Combined Data Sources
A firm understanding of data analytics and numerical theories will greatly benefit this step in the process. In addition, access to industry standard technology and/or software will maximize the efficiency and accuracy of this stage. Some businesses, who chose to conduct research efforts in-house, will seek outside assistance for this task. The reason is that data collection and management are far different than data analytics and reporting. Without proper analysis, research questions may go unanswered or may draw inaccurate conclusions. It is wise to seek the advice or assistance of a professional when generating data analysis reports. This will provide increased confidence when relying on stats and figures for decision making moving forward.
In the next article I will finish up this series with the final phase – Phase #5: Share Results. We will discuss how best to share back-end analysis and identify trends or opportunities that arise.