Data silos are still a common issue among companies that approach TAS. Often, they are created organically as companies grow and add data, tools, teams, and components.
Some examples include sales (POS) data in a financial system, leasing (expirations dates, rent, CAM charges, etc.). You find silos between accounting systems, customer data (including loyalty programs and delivery). Companies might hold marketing data in one platform and campaigns in another. We’ve seen real estate and pipeline management in a CRM or even just Excel, integrated with no platforms that can inform the decision making, and many more.
Whether silos occur simply because teams expand and need more robust tools, or because of acquisitions, data silos create inherent risks. Primarily in data; it’s hard to get to those who need it, when and where they need it – but also with vintage and updates.
How confident can you be that the data you are using is the most up to date? Is it the same data other teams are using to make critical decisions? Silos can also put pressure on a small group of people to locate, pull, and distribute the needed data. This creates bottlenecks to accessing data within reasonable time frames. As an additional challenge, pulling and distributing data can lead to even further silos as those using the data may update and append their copies, which are not shared with others.
When companies become TAS clients, the first step we take is data centralization. We create a data warehouse for their most important data, either in our private data center or behind their firewall. Doing so allows those people given the responsibility of making important, and costly, decisions to execute efficiently, with most up-to-date data available. It also allows for teams to work from that same updated data, creating “one version of the truth”. Think about it - if real estate is opening locations using different data than marketing has, how will they be able to effectively campaign for the new store opening? Similarly, if you’re asking real estate or research to determine a viable market or network optimization strategy, how effective can they be if using outdated or incomplete data about the competition or desired co-tenants?
We work with many companies that had depended upon sales forecasting models to determine site viability. While we agree good models are important, they can only be as good as the data that feeds them. The old adage – Garbage In = Garbage Out holds true. We’ve seen, even before the pandemic, countless retailers announce massive store closings, bankruptcy filings and even liquidations. How many of those made real estate decisions based on analytics with outdated or incomplete data? Sure, sometimes macro and micro economics change the outlook of a concept or brand, but store networks built using faulty data won’t succeed over the long term.
This brings us back to the realization that data is the key. Not just lots of it, but highly trusted and shared data that is updating in near-real time. Extremely important in this is data updated from the field. No third-party dataset can be or stay accurate over time, especially in today’s retail environment. Enabling your field teams, including real estate, broker partners, and operators, to add, verify and enhance your data is critical. Even more so if you rely on models. How many times has a model indicated the viability of a site, without knowing or calculating for the most recent competitor that has entered or announced entry into that market? I can go on and on about the need for better, updated data but I’m guessing you all get my point by now.
TAS and centralization
At its core, TAS is a data gathering, validation and enablement platform. We begin with data centralization and then provide tools to continuously enhance and improve the data you rely on to make critical decisions. I talk to many people who, when making a real estate decisions worth millions of dollars, cannot pay thousands for tools and/or a data set to protect those investments. For those that do make the investment, they quickly recognize TAS isn’t just a tool to improve outcomes, but also a significant risk management solution. That’s when many clients see how important the conversion from data silos to data centralization really is.
We help organizations make this transition in several ways. For starters, we help clients create data feeds internally to centralize those silos without having to change or reinvest in any existing systems. We then create forms in the tools for users to add, verify, update, and enhance the data they rely on. TAS tools also include a Tasks and Notifications feature, which lets clients assign data needs and updates, especially competition casing and analysis, to individual users or teams, and track their progress in real time.
From your online offering, competition, store format, pricing, marketing, and optimization, to your lease renewals, relocations, and store consolidations, silos can slow down even the nimblest organization. In today’s retail environment, that’s not a situation you want to be in.
To learn more about how TAS can help you centralize your data, avoid costly silos, and make better decisions, get in touch today.
Alternatively, join our webinar on 24 March to find out what makes a good real estate plan in 2021.