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How to strengthen the foundations of your data-driven business

customer experience
(Image credit: Image Credit: Georgejmclittle / Shutterstock)

Technology continues to transform and enhance how society lives, works, plays, shops, and so much more. Particularly during this pandemic, we’ve seen new and innovative products and services being launched in the market, from Amazon Fresh stores to Rappi delivery robots. In light of this, CIOs are playing a vital part in the success of new products and services – their role today is often less focused on applications and infrastructure and increasingly more focused on service delivery.

Many rely on the power of their data to solve problems in service delivery, improve their response to customer needs, and maintain a competitive advantage. Yet, the role of databases is often overlooked, receiving very little attention at the strategic level in many organizations’ data strategies and service delivery performance. Neglecting its importance can lead to several common but incredibly impactful issues, including poor customer and employee experiences. However, with a lack of understanding about its importance, many will continue to struggle to effectively diagnose problems early and meet the goals of a truly data-driven enterprise.

The move towards a personalized customer experience 

Today’s customer experience revolves around personalization. Customers crave easy-to-use platforms catered to their individualized needs and a variety of different software, from websites to mobile apps. In fact, a recent study by Gartner found that brands risk losing 38 percent of their existing customer base due to poor personalization efforts. 

Now, these experiences rely on data, which is constantly collected and analyzed in order to refine and improve service, better-targeted marketing, and address users’ needs. Databases are foundational to this process. Not only do they dictate the speed of transactions and track product inventory – they enable the personalization that drives the experience. 

With this in mind, let’s explore what can go wrong when databases are neglected and how to overcome this.

Database challenges impact customer experience 

Database monitoring is crucial for effective continuous service delivery. It is the process of collecting and using performance metrics so a company’s database can fully support its applications by avoiding slowdowns and responding immediately to queries.

Every organization has dealt with customers complaining about their application performance or having requests go unfulfilled. When situations like this arise, a CIO would hope that the relevant team will get to the source of the problem quickly and effectively. It’s not always easy to find the root problem because there are so many moving parts between users and databases, including the application itself, the operating system, virtualization, storage, hardware and the network. Trying to navigate these multiple factors could lead to further delays and depletion in customer trust and loyalty. 

Customers want to be able to trust that the companies they are purchasing from, from retail to healthcare, will be able to perform even during times of uncertainty. During the current climate, if a healthcare booking platform went down, for example, patients would expect the system to be fixed as soon as possible in light of the importance of public health programs such as COVID vaccinations. It’s therefore vital that any disruptions caused by database management issues can be rapidly identified and resolved.

Unfortunately, database challenges also frequently lead to cost overruns as database performance issues are sometimes misidentified as storage or infrastructure problems. All too often, organizations are spending in areas that fail to resolve the issue.

Employee experience matters  

Enhancing database performance is also vital for the employee experience, as it has a direct impact on their workload, costs, and strategy. 

There was once a time when data experts had a slightly easier ride; however, due to the exponential growth in data, they are expected to work with any number of database environments. This extreme growth in the volume, variety, and velocity of data requires these experts to develop a plan for storage capacity before it is anticipated. This added pressure has many teams concerned about IT skills and resources shortages to handle this ever-growing demand for more data and the management required for it. 

In addition to this, hybrid and multi-cloud environments are now the norm. Over eighty percent of organizations have reported that they are using multi-cloud or hybrid environments, according to a recent report from Flexera. However, without a proper strategy, having databases scattered across different platforms can often lead to silos developing. These silos can frustrate efforts to properly utilise and analyze an organization’s data in its entirety. Whenever an organization creates a new cloud or on-premise environment, a new barrier is potentially formed between that data and the rest of the organization’s data.

Overcoming the challenges  

With so much pressure on organizations to enhance customer and employee experiences, having access to the right technology and tools has become more important to simplifying and ensuring the peak performance of databases.

Gaining full and complete visibility across every database platform should be one of the key focuses when it comes to investing in database tools. However, if organizations end up switching back and forth between different tools, this can often slow database problem identification and troubleshooting to a crawl. Also, teams learning how to use a different tool for every platform is expensive and time-consuming and can increase the risk of errors. standardizing database performance monitoring is most beneficial for customer-facing applications and platforms. 

Investment in smart technology that alerts about deviations in normal activity and diagnoses the root cause of performance issues is incredibly useful for easing the pressure and workload on data teams, so they can focus more on how to utilize data insights to enhance service delivery.

And finally, breaking down the aforementioned database and data management siloes is fundamental – users and teams across the business need to feel empowered to utilize the data they have to its maximum potential. Opening up access to data and tools in a secure fashion and facilitating collaboration on data-related activities across the business can help it become a truly data-driven organization.

Solidifying the power of data  

CIOs sit at the intersection of technology and business, so their attention and influence are required to equip their teams with the right tools to maximize visibility and improve planning to help their organization to meet client demand and overcome current challenges.

Providing relevant teams with the ability to monitor databases and other infrastructure components proactively will help deliver the desired results on time and on budget. Although often overlooked, the power of paying attention to databases cannot be understated for its potential benefits in maximizing return on your data-related investments.

Tim Fritz, Information Management Technologist, Quest (opens in new tab)

Tim Fritz is an Information Management Technologist at Quest, and has over 20 years of experience focusing on database technologies, applications, and customer success strategy.