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As data becomes an indispensable part of modern business decision-making, having the right data governance processes in place has become a must. Through data stewardship, organizations are successfully defining and maintaining guidelines of both content and metadata, to ensure data quality and compliance. However, for B2B companies, ensuring data stewardship is not quite as straightforward. Let’s understand why!

Why B2B companies are different

As digitization becomes the norm and B2B digital commerce strategies grow at an unprecedented pace, these organizations are facing a slew of modern-day challenges: mounting operational costs, the challenge of procuring (and retaining) personnel, increasing business risk, and rising customer expectations. Of these, providing an enriched customer experience is a pressing immediate concern in a time of growing competition. Much of the focus, in this context, is on product information and on how to make the right information “findable”. Intuitive, powerful, and flexible browse and search have become key enablers of the buyer journey for customers and distributor partners alike.

The only way B2B companies can overcome these challenges is by having a deeper understanding of the data they have about their business, operations, market, and customers. That apart, the millions of variants of the thousands of complex products they carry present a formidable product data challenge that must be overcome too.

The business problems that B2B data management is intended to solve are many and complex:

  • Product and customer data are loosely dispersed across disparate systems, applications, and parties.
  • Suppliers, vendors, and partners follow different processes for MDM that are not harmonized.
  • Redundant or incorrect master data between different locations paints a distorted picture of inventory that leads to incorrect supply chain decisions.
  • Multiple versions of master data entry often result in inconsistency and duplication across systems.
  • Poorly managed master data leads to insufficient analytics and unreliable reports.
  • Understanding the relationship between customers and partners/vendors is challenging that makes it difficult to provide a relevant level of service.

The challenge of data stewardship

Although B2B companies have made significant investments in creating large data sets, most of these assets are stored in silos that cannot be readily exploited. Furthermore, since product and customer data are not presented consistently in a structured, hierarchical form, many MDM tools struggle to deliver the value that B2B companies need. The lack of adequate quality checks means companies are forced to work with duplicate, inconsistent, and inaccurate data. Such incorrect, out-of-date, and out-of-sync data can contaminate the entire MDM strategy which makes it difficult for data stewards to:

  • Fix the ownership of data elements and enforce data governance policies specific to initial data capture and ongoing data maintenance.
  • Review potential issues before they impact existing data processes and track whether high priority issues are being resolved within required time frames.
  • Manage organizational relationships in the data, create and compare hierarchical views and viewing past representations.

The right approach

B2B companies looking to become data-driven need to embrace technology in an integrated fashion, so they can promote data integrity, collaboration, and accountability. An integrated and interoperable data management solution can help enrich and transform data, cleanse it, and send it for further processing for reporting and analysis.

A data stewardship program specifically built for MDM B2B use cases would be ideal to overcome the challenges that typically concern the B2B industry. Even with out-of-the-box data governance workflows, such a program can enable business-oriented users to collaborate and implement active data governance policies and ensure data quality at all times.

A collaboration-based approach can enable merchandising teams, sales teams, reporting teams, and customer service representatives to proactively identify and fix data problems upfront, capitalize on opportunities and reduce the chances and impact of risk. Such collaboration can empower multiple stakeholders to efficiently implement data governance policies and work together to improve data quality. It can eliminate duplicate entries, reduce operational costs, and increase revenue through up-selling and cross-selling. It can also ensure consistent use of data management resources

When building a data stewardship strategy, make sure to choose one that is easy-to-implement and get going. Also, ensure applications are intuitive and provide data stewards with the ability to enforce data governance policies while allowing them to gather a 360-degree view of relevant data. The data stewardship solution should also allow data stewards to manage multiple complex relationship types and customize and configure them based on individual preferences and settings.

Improve customer satisfaction rate

As B2B companies seek to derive value from their MDM initiative, investing in the right data stewardship solution can help improve effectiveness by making it easy to maintain the quality of data. With the right data stewardship approach, B2B companies will be in a better position to validate data in real-time while constantly standardizing it across platforms. Such standardization can help maintain the level of consistency and accuracy of data while reducing operational costs and improving customer satisfaction and retention rate.