“I am involved in my business every day and I have to be able to use these tools without training. That was the case with DataGroomr. It’s truly intuitive.”
How Valeo Strategy Makes Market Intelligence Accessible for the Global 2000
Lisa Hicks, Chief Strategy Officer
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For over a decade, many of the Global 2000 have turned to Valeo for critical insights that drive breakthrough strategies and increased market share. The company helps to de-risk the strategic planning process so that the best results are achieved, with the least possible cost, and in the shortest amount of time. For more information, visit: www.valeo-strategy.com.
The competitive intelligence industry is highly specialized. Its work is a source of major decision-criteria when the Global 2000 needs to make its most critical moves, such as acquiring new firms, growing into new geographies, bringing new products and services to the market, and outmaneuvering its main competitors.
Valeo Strategy, which has become a first-choice resource for many in the Global 2000, uses its database to tailor the communications of critical research capabilities to the senior leaders, at the largest organizations, across a range of industries, around the world.
Coupled with the expertise of its principal executives, Ed Payne, Chief Research Officer, and Lisa Hicks, Chief Strategy Officer, Valeo Strategy customizes its research and analysis services to meet the specific needs of its clients. And those clients are seeking intelligence across multiple industries, including insurance & financial services, healthcare, industrial & manufacturing, technology, and education. That’s a big job across disparate verticals. Valeo, which is Latin meaning ‘to win,’ is focused on helping its clients to win.
Cultivating Customer Relationships
Valeo Strategy’s experts plumb data to both introduce capabilities to its prospect universe and maintain meaningful relationships with its clients. Something as simple as ensuring that they are communicating with the correct contact among many at a particular company helps to ensure they are best serving their clients around the world to establish and retain Valeo’s competitive edge. In all of its communications, Valeo’s goal is to deliver on its mission to develop and drive strategy that helps companies to grow. And that goal relies on the accuracy and clarity of its data. For that reason, Valeo Strategy turned to DataGroomr for easy and instant deduplication of the records in its database.
Lisa Hicks, Chief Strategy Officer at Valeo Strategy, explained, “We need a clean database. And cleaning data is not something you can do once. Valeo’s database is in the tens of thousands. We started using Salesforce years ago, and it’s a great system. However, as time went on, duplicates became a real issue. Duplicates are often introduced even in newly acquired lists and contacts. The legacy contacts of any company will naturally introduce discrepancies. And with more than 20 years of experience in client interaction, Valeo needed to ensure a holistic process of data cleaning.
Valeo’s driving value proposition is that it helps to take the guesswork out of strategic planning so that the best results are achieved, with the least possible cost, and in the shortest amount of time.
Clients of Valeo expect tailored information about their competitors, but they also expect guidance from Valeo on how to proceed. This expectation makes it all the more critical that Valeo is working with relevant data. According to Salesforce’s State of Marketing Report 2020, 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
”84% of customers say the experience a companySalesforce State of Marketing Report 2020
provides is as important as its products and services.
Data Cleansing as a Part of a Marketing Strategy
Salesforce unites marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT teams into one integrated CRM platform. This was especially important because even as the Valeo team was facilitating the growth of client companies, Valeo’s own business was growing and it recognized the need to implement technology to help achieve Valeo’s goals. Lisa was aware of something that research was already indicating, and that was that marketers were reporting a 186% adoption in AI since 2018.
In order to create successful marketing strategies for Valeo, Lisa requires dynamic lists that contain timely and accurate information about Valeo’s industry contacts. But constantly monitoring those lists and manually reviewing the data take time away from the team’s core expertise of creating in-depth intelligence reports. This became painfully apparent when a list compiled from various data sources introduced 6,000 duplicates into Valeo’s system.
While Salesforce Duplicate Management is one of the core components that’s available in all editions of Salesforce, the Salesforce deduplication feature is only able to merge three records at a time. And if your company relies solely on Salesforce for duplicate detection, you will have to keep creating new rules to identify each type of duplicate.
“The way I was confronting dupes was from buying data and importing to Access,” said Lisa. “But when you’re importing data from purchased sources, there was no way to make sure that I was not bringing in duplicate data.” So, the Valeo team needed to use four different software products and processes to accomplish cleaning the data before adding it to SalesForce. But then they hit a challenge when they discovered an error had occurred and those 6,000 duplicates were inadvertently inputted into their database. The big challenge came when they discovered that SalesForce has no way to easily merge them into one. It only allows you to merge three at a time. And it is a tedious process.
The Valeo team immediately recognized that staying connected to its customer base with real-time data required implementing an additional capability to her Salesforce database. This step would involve identifying a third-party app that could address data cleansing. They turned to the Salesforce platform for data cleansing recommendations, where DataGroomr, promoted as the “easiest way to deduplicate Salesforce,” was favorably reviewed by other users in the AppExchange.
Machine Learning to the Rescue
“I’ve worked on many research studies about machine learning, but I’ve never actually used a software product that gave me direct access to its value ─ where I could see it in action,” commented Lisa, when describing her first experience using DataGroomr. “The first thing was the free trial, and I knew right away. It was incredibly easy to use. I just dove in. I was frustrated with the process I currently had, which allowed me to only merge three records at a time. We have too much to do.” Acknowledging the increasing pace of business in her industry, Lisa added, “Business will fail if you have to do this type of task manually.”
Valeo Strategy has always been very focused on developing efficiencies that support and benefit its customers. With a focus on implementing innovative back-office processes, Valeo maintains a lean business model and, therefore, is able to pass savings on to its clients. The technology that DataGroomr provided was in keeping with that philosophy.
What Valeo discovered was that DataGroomr uses machine learning algorithms that are more accurate and effective in identifying duplicates than what was available with Salesforce. Particularly reliant on CSV imports, Valeo Strategy’s data strategy was to access DataGroomr’s algorithms to scan import files for duplicates prior to uploading data into Salesforce. And this was possible without setting up any complex rules.
Deduplication tools have existed for decades, relying largely on the use of user-created data matching rules combined with the availability of ever-more powerful computing equipment to perform these tasks. The difference in the DataGroomr algorithm is that it can be tailored to the needs of the organization and will self-learn, customizing itself without any human involvement. Essentially, getting smarter over time.
Another feature that was appealing for Valeo Strategy was that machine learning is scalable since it does not compare all the records at once. It uses blocking to compare datasets that have something in common. For example, this could be the first three characters of a name field. In that case, a block of records that share these characters would be created and compared. Comparing every pair of records in the dataset without the assistance of a constantly monitoring algorithm would be extremely difficult.
With 1,000 records, the task is possible but tedious. But with tens of thousands of records, deduplication without assistance becomes untenable.
“I am involved in my business every day and I have to be able to use these tools without training,” commented Lisa. “That was the case with DataGroomr. It’s truly intuitive.”
”I am involved in my business every day and I have to be able to use these tools without training. That was the case with DataGroomr. It’s truly intuitive.Lisa Hicks
Building Value through Personal Connections
Valeo Strategy’s team of industry analysts go directly to the source of information to gather qualitative insights to strategically inform critical decision-making for its clients. To do that successfully, Valeo understands the value of making direct connections and pursuing the most relevant sources. Once Valeo started using the DataGroomr app, Lisa said they were impressed with its functionality, but wanted to gain even more intelligence about its full capabilities.
“I could tell it was very well done, but I had a few questions,” said Lisa. “I reached out to Steve Pogrebivsky (the co-founder of DataGroomr) and we started talking.” Lisa explained that Steve was able to walk her through the questions she had and clarify how best to apply the algorithms for her particular purposes. “These are people who you know are very skilled and easy to work with,” commented Lisa.
Lisa was especially impressed by DataGroomr’s overriding mission to deliver clean data. Steve Pogrebivsky and Co-Founder Ben Novoselsky started DataGroomr to simplify the approach to deduping Salesforce and apply machine learning to allow companies to take advantage of everything Salesforce has to offer without the pain. “Clean data delivers a message to customers and prospects that a company knows what it’s talking about,” said Steve. “Any business that is reaching out with inaccurate data will naturally be seen as incompetent.”
“I know how important Customer Service is,” said Lisa. “DataGroomr’s Customer Service showed a willingness to ensure that, as a customer, I was really satisfied.
“The beauty of what they’ve done is in the machine learning,” Lisa elaborated. “The way you make those choices is remembered. Every time I make choices within the DataGroomr app, it gets smarter.”
”Clean data delivers a message to customers and prospects that a company knows what it’s talking about.Steve Pogrebivsky
Moving Forward with Clean Data
Valeo Strategy is successful because they are able to identify the right people in various industries, cross-check their title, company, and history that helps to build a solid foundation for the development of market intelligence for their clients. “With the level of data that we get, we can slice and dice,” said Lisa.
She shares the example of a list merge that initially created 757 duplicates. After leaving the DataGroomr app running – informed by the choices that Valeo had already input – she remembers that “the next morning, every one was a match.” She explains that “DataGroomr has programmed the algorithm to make the choices for you, and then you decide what to delete. Next time, it rounds up dupes for you, gets smarter with time.”
After years of working with databases, Lisa knows that to maintain a clean database means to have better results. “I have had years of experience to know which choices to make in my data, but there’s just not enough time to do this manually, and to pay someone to do such a time-consuming task would be too costly.”
By taking a page out of Valeo Strategy’s book of business relationships, companies would learn to keep a finger on the pulse of what and who drive the business that matters to them.
To understand the success that Valeo Strategy has achieved with its database, start your free trial of DataGroomr today.