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Blog: DATAFirst: Expanding Project Horizons

By Bridget McCrea

Since September, Frost Supply of Maryland Heights, Mo., has been working with DATAgility, developer of data quality scorecarding program DATAFirst, to clean up its catalogue data and upgrade its corporate website. In this series of tED magazine articles we’re following Frost Supply through the process of improving its data quality and its e-commerce presence. Here’s an update on where the project stands, accomplishments so far, and where things are headed over the next month.

Expanded Benefits
When Frost Supply kicked off the DATAgility initiative last year, the project was focused on gathering accurate data for the distributor’s new website. As it delves deeper in the initiative, Frost Supply has come to realize that the effort will produce a wider range of benefits than originally intended. “We’re beginning to understand our data requirements and how they evolve,” says Nick Arb, Frost’s marketing manager. “We also know now that the data that’s being cleaned and catalogued will serve multiple purposes.”

For example, Arb says the data will not only populate the distributor’s website, but it will also serve as a resource for the firm’s inside and outside sales teams. “We’ll have a flexible database that can supply multiple sources,” says Arb, “including our print catalogue and various other targets.”

Additionally, Arb says the initiative will improve Frost Supply’s internal reporting capabilities. “We’re already able to run sales reports according to a specific manufacturer or product,” he explains, “but now we’ll also be able to obtain category-specific sales reports. That’s something that we weren’t able to do previously.”

On Target
Over the last couple of months, Frost Supply’s marketing team has been consolidating data from multiple sources, including the industry data warehouse, manufacturers, and other independent targets. The task has been both onerous and ongoing. “Consolidating all of that information and then standardizing it has been a struggle,” says Arb, “but it’s necessary if we want to be able to serve up accurate data to our own customer base.”

In December, Frost Supply submitted data to supplier Cooper Bussmann to determine how well the distributor’s data matches up with the manufacturer’s own information. Arb says the results, which the distributor will receive in mid-January, will help Frost Supply evaluate the discrepancies between the supplier’s data and the information that was shared with that supplier. The exercise – which is supported by the DATAFirst solution – will also help the distributor complete a similar process with other vendors.

“We’re working with limited resources and we want to make sure we leverage the tools available to us, including DATAFirst,” says Arb, who expects Frost Supply to release its new website in beta format in early-2014. “We’re on track to hit that target, and from there we expect to put a lot of time into tweaking it and making it as user-friendly as possible.”

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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