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Data and collaboration: The case for a central source of truth

by Jake Athey, June 30, 2016

On June 16, I had the honor of serving on a webinar panel hosted by G2 Crowd, an outstanding business software review platform. Inspired by G2 Crowd’s recent study, “Solving Common Business Problems,” my fellow panelists and I discussed some of the top challenges that affect marketing and sales, the workforce, and the entire enterprise.

In this blog post, it would be a tall order to solve all eight problems that challenged the survey’s 341 participants. Instead, I’d like to focus on two of those challenges that are interrelated: data and collaboration.

In G2 Crowd’s survey, 62.2% of respondents said that “integrating data across multiple systems” had an impact on their business strategy. 51.2% said that the challenge of “increasing interdepartmental collaboration” also affected their business strategy.

Central source of truth

Summary of common enterprise problems and their impact on current business strategy.

I would argue that data and collaboration collide unless you have a central source of truth for information.

With visual content, for instance, which files should you trust if they are stored in multiple locations? Which videos, logos, images, and graphics in cloud storage are up to date and legally safe to use? If you integrate cloud storage with your marketing automation tool, will email marketers use the right content?

In this scenario, a salesperson probably can’t find the neat video that your email marketers sent to prospects. But, she wants to add that video to her PowerPoint presentation, so she asks someone in marketing to email the file over. That marketer, a.k.a. “the finder of stuff,” could spend hours per day hunting down visual files for people instead of doing his real job.

Technically, that’s “interdepartmental collaboration,” but it’s not the kind you want. It wastes time and drives both parties insane. It illustrates how your software tools can actually undermine collaboration when there is no central source of truth.   

In the world of marketing content, a digital asset management (DAM) system should be the central source of truth. It can share data (i.e., integrate) with cloud storage, web content management, product information management, marketing automation, and other systems that rely on visual content. With its governance controls, DAM could give that salesperson access to finalized videos while shielding her from seeing the unfinished clips she might have misused.

With DAM, the salesperson knows the video she uses is the same one that the email marketers used. She doesn’t need to bother the finder of stuff. If the salesperson embeds that video in a SlideShare and someone happens to update the video in DAM, her embedded video will automatically update, too. The salesperson won’t need to re-publish the video. We call this concept “1 internet, 1 file,” otherwise known as C.O.P.E.Create Once, Publish Everywhere.

Thus, DAM can convert collaboration from a time drain and collaboration cluster-jam into a fast, automated process. That’s the power of having one central source of truth. Wherever there is an explosion of data, collaboration becomes complicated without one.

In finance, funds like to talk about the amount of money they have “under management.” As they grow that number, they encounter new opportunities and challenges in equal measure. In marketing, we need to talk about the volume of “content under management.” We, too, will run into our share of opportunities and challenges as we grow that number.

You can choose to suffer the consequences of scattered assets, siloed teams, disparate systems, slow response times, turf battles, content misuse and abuse, duplication of efforts, and many other messes. Or, you can go with a central source of truth. Your approach to data and the systems that manage it will determine the nature of interdepartmental collaboration at your company.

Get in touch with a Widen advisor today to talk about your central source of truth or check out the Spring 2016 DAM report by G2 Crowd to see how popular DAM solutions stack up.

Topics: Marketing

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