TECHNOLOGYSome CRM programs have their own data-cleansing tools, but that may not be enough.
A number of cleansing-software vendors have appeared within the last five years, and their offerings are largely similar. Some focus specifically on CRM applications, while others also offer tools for the supply chain and inventory management. Regardless of which you pick, analysts say data-cleansing software should include several important tools: data profiling, which helps analyze data and find inconsistencies; parsing, which identifies different types of data and puts them in specific fields; standardization, which ensures consistency throughout the data; verification, comparing customer data against a universal master such as the U.S. Postal Service; matching, which links files that are related; and consolidation, which eliminates duplicate entries. Meanwhile, realizing that the failure of so many CRM rollouts can be attributed to bad data, many CRM vendors are getting into the data-cleansing game themselves. Their offerings are limited to customer data, however, and are tightly woven into the softwarewhich wont help if youre looking to clean financial files and product records.
In fact, you may find yourself partnering with more than one vendor, depending on the tools they provide. Gregory, of Hogan & Hartson, says his company uses a combination of cleansing tools from DataFlux Corp. and CRM provider Interface Software Inc. "I think they can and should co-exist," he says, "although ultimately there needs to be a central data-management function that is aware of and coordinates use of these types of products."
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