Ted Dimbero is cofounder and chief customer officer of Zyme.
In this exclusive interview, Dimbero sheds light on the intricacies of channel data management.
CRM Buyer: What is channel data management, and why is it important?
Ted Dimbero: Channel data management is about providing high-tech companies with all the data and information they need to effectively manage their distribution channels, sales, and marketing.
Traditionally, companies have relied on managing the channel fairly blindly. They may get monthly data, but a lot of the data is incomplete or too late to make important decisions, like what promotions they want to run.
Can you explain a little more how this works in the real world?
Dimbero: It starts at the root with the collection of data from distribution and reseller partners around the world. They’re getting data from two or three thousand partners around the world — data on inventory, what they have sold, and who they have sold it to.
As you might imagine, when you collect information from so many different sources and systems, there’s lots of difficulty matching it back. If you have products defined in your CRM system, someone in China might report back that they’ve made a sale, but how to do you connect it in your CRM system to a particular customer?
The product numbers might also be wrong, and how do you connect them back? It’s a messy problem since you’re dealing with so many different systems, and every day they’re changing. Every day different data comes in that can’t correctly or easily be interpreted or matched back to the manufacturer’s data.
It’s all about collecting the data, validating it, and connecting it back to known entities. Once you’ve gotten the data, cleaned it up, validated it, and pushed it downstream into the CRM system, you can develop a clearer view of the end customer.
There are lots of different use cases for data, but if you take it in its raw form without cleaning it, validating it, and enriching it, it won’t make any sense. It’s a matter of making sense out of lots of disparate information and using it to drive the channel.
What’s the key to making data useful?
Dimbero: It’s about connecting it to things that they know in their enterprise. You might want to know which transaction happened in which territory, and you might run a report.
People may be getting the data, and maybe it’s coming in quarterly, monthly, or weekly, but it’s difficult to make sense of what you know about your organization and what you need in your system.
If you can’t interpret the data, it’s a mound of information that, while interesting, is not helping you. It’s all about making sure you’re getting the right information to drive the downstream business processes.
What is the relationship between channel data management, CRM, and marketing?
Dimbero: One of the most important is a feedback loop when you’re running a campaign of some sort. You want to know if that campaign really had an impact on a sale.
What some of the leading companies are doing is designing smart or dynamic campaigns that are more focused. They’re able to say, “I have this pocket of inventory in this one location, and I can run a more intelligent campaign in this place and get rid of the inventory and do more of a pointed campaign.”
With channel data management, you can have an intelligent partner profile, so you can know which partners are good at selling which products.
More intelligent lead routing is another area. When a lead comes in, instead of routing it to a territory, you can route it to someone who has a track record of selling that particular product.
What we’ve also seen is people have open opportunities in Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce, and yet since fulfillment is not done by them but by a distributor, these opportunities are just sitting out there.
How is channel data management evolving? What’s in the future in this space?
Dimbero: Where CDM started was really in helping organizations with quarterly financial data and sales value. As you start using the data for more things, though, that’s where it’s evolving.
Now people are using data to replenish store shelves or look for upsell opportunities. It’s all about helping businesses make the right decisions. We see the velocity going up. I see companies wanting to get deeper into the channel, particularly in emerging markets.
Often there’s a company distributor that sells to other distributors and resellers. People are trying to get to the edge, and they’re asking, “Who’s finally buying my product?” As you get clearer visibility to the end, you can target your marketing more effectively.