Five reasons data matters

November 22, 2013By Behind the Shelf Blog, Data Analysis and Management

Posted by Dave Wendland

Imagine the accuracy of item look-up and the ease of consistent reporting if the source data was in better condition. If information is indeed the “new” currency, then drug wholesalers need to take measures to ensure their item files are comprehensive and current.

As more and more organizations have migrated toward SAP or other enterprise software within their operations, the requirement to structure data formats consistently and review past practices is in the crosshairs.

Here are five reasons that this should be considered a top priority.structure data

1) Item descriptions matter.
Simply deciding which descriptions to use in a particular data field can be a major struggle. Convincing people to give up their local preferences in favor of a single, centralized philosophy is fraught with peril. And understanding and addressing the needs of all the different departments—or convincing them their requirements are outdated—is time-consuming and often acrimonious.

2) Inventory management becomes easier.
Effectively examining items through a consistent lens makes the arduous task of monitoring inventory activities and managing various business units more manageable. What's worse, product attributes and descriptions can vary from department to department within a company. In a business environment that is more and more database-driven, even small differences can make data fields incompatible.

3) Flexibility is paramount.
In today’s digital world, information needs to be accessible everywhere; from print catalogs and websites, ERP and accounting systems, all the way to supporting sales channels and internal systems. And, in order for product data to serve its many purposes, it has to be comprehensive, accurate, and valid.

4) Today’s marketplace demands it.
The reason most companies haven't already undertaken data normalization and refinement is that it is a painful process involving multiple departments, legacy systems, trading relationships, and budgetary considerations. However, the risk of limping along with outdated data far outweighs the pain of getting it right.

5) Enriched data drives results.
When undertaking data transformation, it is an ideal time to consider additional value-add fields. Some wholesalers have enriched their data with product images and details to enhance the ordering process, created keyword searches to help retailers more easily find and order items from their inventory, and companion sale recommendation tables to increase the value of each order.

Data is at the heart of good, productive communication. Simply put, today’s business requires maintenance of one set of master product data to ensure accuracy and consistency. This is no longer an option. Standardizing product codes, categorizations, and descriptions will return real benefits. But it won't be without a certain amount of pain and bloodshed. As painful as the prospect may be, it's not a question of whether organizations need to refine their product databases to enhance data exchange with trading partners and regulatory agencies but which method best delivers a solution that works.

Leave a Reply