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A lesson on marketing automation from Xero: 'A simple data approach can transform your business - and make your customers love you'

A lesson on marketing automation from Xero: 'A simple data approach can transform your business - and make your customers love you'

Guido Stark, data architect at Xero, shares the nuts and bolts of marketing automation that can help businesses achieve scale, without soaring costs.

No matter what size your business is, optimising through automation is critical to growing your operations without growing your costs.

By implementing simple data strategies you can transform your business, and make your customers love you.

Maintaining good data management is critical if you want to expand, and with the volume of data available, a lot of grunt work needs to be completed so you can easily handle your data, all the while maintaining its integrity and security.

Know what you’re talking about

When it comes to data, it’s critical you know what you’re talking about. Going back to basics and getting the taxonomy and definitions right is a good place to start. When I first joined Xero, one of my first goals was to create a ubiquitous language. To define key entities such as User, Organisation, Practice, Partner, Customer and so on.

'We found concentrating on creating a beautiful, clean data model, establishing master data, and metadata to help guide the way has helped us automate, and to grow, scale and integrate while maintaining our nimble nature.'

Guido Stark, Xero

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Unsurprisingly, different parts of our company had different definitions. It’s worth taking the time to pay attention to the details during this phase, to iron out the core of your business understanding and create consistency.

In order to establish conventions, you need to get everyone on the same page. Communicating what that page is was a significant part of our journey of moving towards clean, beautiful data and automation.

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One source of truth

If you are in a business with data in multiple systems it becomes critical to ensure you only have one source of truth for all your information. You shouldn’t have different versions of your data floating around. Everyone should understand which system holds the master - the record of truth. Systems should also be integrated so changes only happen to the master record and this flows through and updates everywhere else it’s supposed to.

Make it beautiful

At Xero we invest in making things beautiful, and that includes our data. If your data is all over the place, hard to find, poorly documented, or difficult to understand, there is a better way.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist, be into big data, or machine learning, to get this right. Good quality metrics that are easily consumed in a beautiful, clean, simple data model adds significant value to a business. Spending time on your metadata by creating and cleaning up your data dictionaries, makes it easier for the people driving your business forward to find the data they are looking for, and to build systems on top of that data in order to automate.

Xero has had a lot of new staff join over the last year. By having a streamlined data system we’re able to bring new hires up to speed faster, and adding value to the company sooner.

Next: 'Start filling in the gaps'

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Tags Data managementsasxeromarketing automationaccounting softwaredata analyticsAndy Larkdata scientistrod druryData Architecture@SUNZ2016data architectGuido Stark

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