Top 100 Benefits of a Custom Web Database
Top 100 Benefits of a Custom Web Database
If you have decided to build a custom web database, odds are that it’s a good decision. In our 15+ years of experience, we have compiled a list of benefits our clients have received. Here are the Top 100 Benefits of a custom web database.
1. Solve Hard Problems. Custom databases crunch the numbers and make it possible for individuals and businesses to tackle their most challenging problems.
2. Make Better Decisions – Quickly. Armed with accurate information; humans can and do make better decisions.
3. Make More Money. Custom databases can increase your profits and cut down on your expenses.
4. Save Time. Build a database to do the work of many employees. No vacations or sick days required.
5. One Central Location – Accessible Anywhere. Allow your staff and customers to go to one centralized location for all their information.
6. Grow Your Business. Excel and Access do not scale. Get ahead of the curve by creating a custom web database that can propel your organization forward.
7. Look Professional. Avoid giving bad data to your customers or staff. Instead, give your users easy read / professional looking reports and tools.
8. Differentiate Your Company. By building an online database you can give your customers something your competitors aren’t giving them – access to their information when they want it.
9. Gain More Control. Track who did what and when. Know if something happened or did not happen.
10. Get Software Custom to What You Want vs. Don’t Want. The beauty of building custom database applications is that they are tailored 100% for what you want or don’t want. Off the shelf solutions can be fixed or bloated with things you won’t use. If you choose the custom route; you can make a simple application or a very complex application – it’s your choice – because it’s custom to your needs. We often get requests asking us if we have an application that is specific to their unique business process and the answer often is “Not yet, but we can build it”. If you want to build a custom application do take extra care when planning, architecting the new system, and make sure you have experienced/talented people guiding you through the process.
11. Be the Smartest Kid in the Classroom. When management or customers want answers; you can provide the information they need at a moment’s notice and without breaking a sweat.
12. Put Daily Tasks on Cruise Control. Do you have a routine process or task that has to get accomplished on a regular basis? If so, your custom web database can do the routine, complex, or mundane tasks you have without ever missing a beat.
13. Safeguard Your Company’s Information and Improve Security. Encrypting your information, establishing user permissions, and using advanced security methods protect you. Excel, Access, and other means are not secure. Keep the bad guys out – a database can encrypt your information and prevent non authorized users from ever seeing it.
14. Collaborate with Others. An online database system is the one stop solution for collaboration with your peers. By sharing and storing information in an easy to use system; people can work together to solve problems and do great things.
15. Improve Data Integrity. Unauthorized users changing data or human error can’t happen because we won’t allow them to screw things up. By utilizing input validation and security protocols; your data will remain clean and accurate.
16. Prevent Data Loss. By establishing regimented backup procedures, your information is always backed up and you won’t lose a single byte of information.
17. Improve Your Level of Organization. Being organized is a relative word. Databases by their very nature are organized. Your information can be indexed, sorted, hierarchical, regional based, global, or customized to however your business actually works.
18. Prevent Customer Defections. If you have information that your customers or users can only get from you – this makes leaving your business that much more difficult.
19. Upsell or Cross Sell. By better understanding each unique customers purchasing history, you can proactively offer them your goods or services when they are in their buying cycle.
20. Reduce Data Entry. Having your customers or users fill out online forms, importing existing data from other systems, and pre-populating data entry forms will save you and your staff a considerable amount of time.
21. Create Dashboards. After your information is accessible from one central database, we can create interactive dashboards that give users their Key Performance Indicators that they want and need to know.
22. Have Peace of Mind. If you have all of your information stored on a local PC; you are only 1 bad hard drive away from disaster. A custom web database is backed up automatically and can store historical information in a remote/secure location.
23. Prevent Mistakes or Costly Errors. To be human is to err… but what if you weren’t allowed to make mistakes. Creating unique business rules, accessing accurate information, and applying logic / calculations to your business processes will eliminate the chance of casual mistakes.
24. Answer What If Questions. If you are planning or trying to solve a problem; knowing the answers to what if scenarios (before they happen) will make you that much more prepared.
25. Combine Data from Others. There are gold mines of data freely available to you. Some examples of free data could include census information, real time weather data, job growth rates, concentration of wealthy individuals, social media chatter, and many more sources of information can be free to use.
26. Challenge Old Ways of Thinking. If you want to bring about change with your staff or management team; a custom database can give you the ammunition you need to make your case for change. Facts are a wonderful tool for enacting change.
27. Be Seen as an Industry Expert. When your custom database application contains information that would not be easy to assemble or create individually – you can use these insights to create industry reports and share the information with your customers / networks.
28. Move Faster. The raw power of a web database can make you nimble while others fail. Being able to make smart decisions and positively impact your organization in real time gives you the edge others may not have.
29. Herd Cats. Managing employees and ensuring a business is in alignment on key performance indicators is half art / half database. Planning, scheduling, assigning tasks, and measuring success is all possible with an online database. The database empowers you and your managers to get more accomplished.
30. Sell Using Facts. It’s a fact that customers like facts and figures. Do you know what your business facts are? Here are a couple of examples commonly used sales facts; knowing that your delivery times where 100% accurate for the past 2 years, your business received a 99% customer satisfaction rating from existing customers, you are able to produce products 5 days faster than your closest competitor. If you don’t know your stats then you can’t use them. A web database can organize your key sales points and allow your sales teams to use them.
31. Create New Sources of Revenue. Your information can be extremely valuable to you and others. An online database with a check out process can create a new revenue streams. Common methods of reselling data include paid monthly subscriptions, annual reports, regional reports, and licensed API’s for other web sites to use your information.
32. Stop the Excel Madness. Excel is a good tool for managing lists and performing some advanced calculations. Excel is not a database, not secure, and the data can be easily over written / corrupted. If you spend most of your day wrangling Excel spreadsheets; do yourself a huge favor and create a custom database. You will be glad you did.
33. Improve Customer Relationships. Commonly called CRM (Customer Relationship Management); the goal of these programs is to better manage existing customers and sales prospects. Oh, and they work too. There are off the shelf solutions or you can create a custom CRM database unique to your organization if required.
34. Be a Better Manager. Things that get measured get managed. A custom database program built to your organizations needs will allow your managers to be better prepared and lead their staff. Databases handle all the number crunching and provide clear views of the information to your team.
35. Work Remotely / From Your Home. This is both a blessing and a curse. Your team can get more work accomplished from any location with a web database. The curse is that it can be difficult to know when to stop working. Having tools to do your job from anywhere is great; just remember to have a life outside of work.
36. Eliminate “Garbage In – Garbage Out”. How do you prevent corrupting a database? Don’t allow it to happen in the first place. We can create custom data rules, input validations, white lists, form pre-population, import scripts, and many other safety measures to reduce any garbage from going into the system.
37. Quarantine ‘Suspect’ Information. By creating clear data rules for your information, your web database can take in the good data and set the questionable data to the side. The suspect data can be reviewed by a human and modified or deleted. This is a way to further ensure your systems accuracy.
38. Create Thresholds. A threshold is a common sense rule we apply to databases. An example would be if a customer entered an order quantity of 10,000,000 and a typical order is normally about 10 – then we can politely ask the user if they really meant 10 million. Thus preventing a potentially negative experience because of bad data. If they really did mean 10 million then Yippee! Ring the bell.
39. Get More Out of Your Existing Data. Companies and organizations produce information at an ever rapidly increasing pace. This is great news if you have a custom database to leverage this information for making better decisions and achieving your goals. This is not so good news if you are ill equipped to deal with the information over load. Prioritizing your information and setting clear database objective goals is a great starting point for making existing company information useful to the organization.
40. Streamline Your Organization. Do you have processes for your business that aren’t always followed? The honest answer we hear most often is “Yes, we do not always follow our processes”. A custom database application can better enforce your workflow or routines. The impact of this is a more consistent service experience or product and it will save you time by automating the overall process. Both are good for the bottom line.
41. Export Data for One-Off Requests. Building a database takes thought, talent, and experience. When you create a database you will realize that you did not account for every single potential scenario under the sun. Here’s the solution. Because your web database contains up to date and accurate information; simply export the data you need to respond to a one off request. If you find that the one off request is going to be an ongoing need; then create a new report or system feature to accommodate this newly recognized need.
42. Be a Better Partner. You have data and your partners have data. If you want to achieve better results; you can share the information with a centralized web database. There are many examples where vendors, distributors, think-tanks, incubators, and enthusiasts get together to share their information for the greater good. Strengthening your position with your partners does everybody good.
43. Go Global. This is a no brainer. If you are global or have plans on going global you must be able to communicate effectively across the globe. An online database allows you to store information consistently and then display the information locally in a meaningful fashion. Converting measurements, languages, and preferences are tasks best suited for a web database.
44. Create a New Business. Entrepreneurs of the world want to solve a problem that no one has ever solved before. For example, Google takes in volumes of data, applies their proprietary rules to it, and then serves it up to the public to search for “free”. Because of their people, efforts, and yes – their database; they have taken a huge slice of the search engine advertising market. Google was officially started in 1998 – that’s not very long ago. How will your custom database outperform Google’s business model?
45. Filter Your Information. Just need the data you want – not the entire database. Build custom filters to find departmental, regional, individual, or global summaries; all based on the periods of time you want.
46. Expect an Immediate Return on Investment (ROI). Knowing your database is going to reduce time, offer a new way of doing business, and attracting new customers because your company is differentiated in the market place can start earning you revenues immediately.
47. Reduce Your Stress / Workload. If you or your staff spend large amounts of time preparing reports, summaries, estimates, proposals then you should consider creating a database application. Let the web database application do the report preparation for you; you can then focus more on your customers.
48. Cut through the Crap. More information doesn’t always make for better results. If you just need your department’s info or specific regional information – then consider a well-structured database. By implementing user created queries, they can access the information they want and ignore the rest. Technology is supposed to help people; if it doesn’t then it becomes noise. Make sure you think of all the users of your web application prior to building it.
49. Get a Promotion. Be the go-to person that solves a business issue for your company and they will love you for it. A custom database application can give you the tools you need to solve business challenges.
50. Be a Statistician without Being a Statistician. Let the advanced statistical tools with your database application do all the work. Then, your team can reap the benefits by being able to answer the median, mode, average, standard deviation, and many other statistical measures. Display your information in clear and easy to understand graphs, charts, scatterplots, and maps.
51. Track User Behavior. Knowing who uses your systems, what they do, where they are coming from, why they are doing things, and how they are doing them is very useful information. Being able to make decisions in real-time is incredibly powerful.
52. Spot Opportunities. There are opportunities all around you. Can you spot them quickly? Custom web databases allow you to harness information and see trends as they happen.
53. Identify Risks. On the flip side of identifying opportunities; being able to head off or reduce risks to your business is equally helpful. Let your custom database alert you to missed orders, warranty recalls, negative survey results, or any other critical measure.
54. Display Information in Meaningful Ways. Bringing interactive reporting and graphs to your data gives you and your user’s information that is truly helpful.
55. Solve Big Data Problems. Big Data is the storage, interpretation, and display of really large data sets. Examples of big data problems are predicting a candidates chance of election based on social media, where and when you should be selling lemonade – throughout the world, the human genome project where brilliant minds all over the world collaborate and run their calculations and share results.
56. Scale Your Systems – Quickly. Big data technologies allow you to expand your data warehouse outward and crunch more information than any single server (or group of servers) could previously process.
57. Better Market Your Products or Services. Do you know the optimal Product, Price, Promotion, and Place you should be selling your wares? Tracking the data and then acting on the information can increase your sales and reduce stock piles of unwanted inventory. A custom sales database will help you answer your marketing and sales strategy questions.
58. See The Forest Through The Trees. When it comes down to it; organizations succeed or fail because they do or don’t do a few things really well. What are the important items that you should be focusing on? What is going to move your organizations needle? Staying focused on the overall goal is where your most talented individuals should spend their time. Let your database program do the work of generating the information you need so you can clearly view where you are and where you want to go.
59. Have a Disaster Recovery Plan. If there is a problem and you are storing information on local infrastructure that isn’t backed up it can be embarrassing at minimum and sink your company at worst. Ensure your database systems and the valuable information is always there and you have a plan for getting back to business. Excel and Access are not the solution; a web database is the answer.
60. Lock out any unwanted users. If you are a government agency or have very sensitive information. Then you should consider how users will connect to your data. You can lock the information down to a single location IP address, use a VPN, secure tokens, firewalls, and a host of other preventative measures to eliminate any unwanted users from ever seeing your information.
61. Get your data out and use it in other software. There are times when you will want to export data from your centralized online database and use it in other stand-alone software programs. Sharing your data with other programs is very handy to reduce duplicate data entry with financial programs such as QuickBooks and Peachtree. The beauty is that the online database can be programmed to properly format the source data so it can be imported by other programs.
62. Prepare Forecasts and Budgets. A key task for organizations is to develop plans and budgets months or years in advance. How do you do this? Gut feel, multiple spreadsheets, or just take last year’s budget and add 5%. There is another way. Take your current expenses, year over year data, current sales and/or contracts, expected sales forecasts, and then bring in external data sources. This will allow you to ask “what would happen” if the cost trends for your most critical raw materials are rising. If the labor market tightens. If your employee satisfaction surveys indicate churn or turnover. By bringing together your existing financial tools and introducing external data sources; your forecasts and budgets can be more accurate. A custom database application can allow you to do this and modify your actual performance in real time.
63. Deploy New Versions Immediately. Web based database applications can deploy updates to all your users in an instant. Not having to download patches or install additional software is optimal for your users. If there is a new feature or you want to turn off a feature, all your users are updated the next time they visit your application.
64. Communicate Better. If you construct your web database with built in communication capabilities; it will probably get used more often and will bring more value to the organization.
65. Improve Quality and Performance. Knowing your stats and more importantly sharing those stats with your front-line employees can greatly improve your end products and customer service levels.
66. Be flexible. When your business data is portable, secure, and accurate – you are now flexible to conduct business anywhere / anytime you choose to.
67. Build an API. So much data and so little structure. Be the first to standardize your industries information and then build an API that can access information – in a structured manner. API’s are useful for spawning robust applications, leveraging data sources, and streamlining processes.
68. Take a Real Vacation. When your business information is organized and stored in one central location; there’s no need for employees or managers to call you while you are away working on your tan (or insert whatever you like to do here). By being prepared and building a database system that users can access allows you to avoid multiple emails / phone calls while you are away recharging your batteries.
69. Be Compliant. Certain industries such as financial and healthcare require data to be handled in a specific way. Database applications are fantastic for achieving industry or internal compliancy. You can configure your system to save data for 7 years, encrypt social security numbers, restrict access to patient information, automatically report financial information, or many other compliancy needs.
70. Create a Cloud Application (or SAAS). Basecamp, DropBox, Gmail, and SalesForce are all popular cloud applications. Each of these started as ‘relatively’ simple database applications. People will pay you for your web database software if it solves their needs and does it better than other alternatives and the cloud infrastructure will allow you to scale your winning solution to the masses.
71. Proactively Reward Your Customers & Staff. Most people respond positively to praise (or at least that’s our opinion). Knowing who your most profitable customers are and which employees are truly making a difference allows management to say “thank you very much” or “good job” in real time. Notice the important thing here is real time. Immediately rewarding people when they do what you want can be more satisfying and memorable than to reward them 3 months from now. Your customer loyalty or employee loyalty databases can be tuned to positively reinforce their good deeds.
72. Work Seamlessly With Remote Employees. Whether your organization has multiple locations or a work from your home staff model; building a database to store and share information enables all your users to be working with the most current information, schedule tasks, share files, and measure progress.
73. Quickly Wind Up / Wind Down Web Databases. Some organizations need to quickly collect information and report information. These databases can be used for special events, one time offers, or a one off project. These types of database applications should be lightweight and straightforward. We recommend straightforward coding and limit the online features. A simple export of data to a comma delimited file may be all your need. When you are finished, simply save the application and turn off the cloud server until you need it again.
74. Tell Your Database When to Do its Job. A database application can be constructed to deliver summary reports at 7:00 AM or process information on the fly. Having the flexibility to build a database based on how you actually work can act like another staff member who never misses a day.
75. Create Unique Views of Information. Allowing your users to customize their standard settings or deliver only information that they should see gives your user and your organization control of the information. By creating user roles and individual permissions you can easily manage the information that is being presented.
76. Make Your Life Easier. Having all your information indexed, accessible, and up to date can reduce your stress levels. Knowing that your web database is accessible from anywhere, backed up, and accurate is a good feeling.
77. Store Your Collective Knowledge. A knowledge database is a system that allows your experts to share and store your information specific to your organization. Many companies have created Wiki’s to do this as well. Having a clearly organized and searchable knowledge database can prepare you for a key employee retiring or training your new hires.
78. Avoid Data Entry. Data entry blows. We don’t know anyone that likes to enter data. Import existing business data from excel, XML, CSV, EDI, and many other formats. It saves time and you can avoid a job most prefer not to do.
79. Make the complex – easy to understand. If you generate volumes of data then an easy to use custom database application is in order. Building in robust report filters can, search queries, sorting, and other business logic allows you put to use all the information you already are capturing.
80. Establish Real Benchmarks. Creating accurate benchmarks can be a time consuming process. Tracking how you are doing compared to those benchmarks requires even more time. A custom database can help you with establishing accurate benchmarks, ongoing measurement tracking, and producing actuals vs. projected outcomes. Also, you can ask your database application cause and effect questions if you want to see how a change might impact your benchmarks. Pretty handy.
81. Perform Market Research. Marketers always want to know where, who, and how to reach prospective customers. An online database can help you figure this information out and then compare what works vs. what doesn’t work. Marketing companies tend to be very advanced and cautious when creating new campaigns. After all, they usually are spending a hefty sum and they had better do their homework before and after each campaign.
82. Clarity. Your custom web database will allow you to ask and get accurate answers about your information. Databases allow you to use many built in query functions such as select, from (which table), join (connects tables), where (reduce number of records), group (usually used to eliminate duplicate records), having (aggregation), and order by (which columns used to present the result data).
83. Be Social. Do you need to create your own forum for your staff or customers? Do you want to control who can view the information? If you do then a business sponsored forum can allow you to have conversations with just the individuals you want. A web database application can automatically post public info with Facebook / Twitter accounts while your private conversations remain under your control.
84. Understand Your Social Footprint. There are many social web sites out there. Do you know what real customers are saying about your company? Without this information it can be challenging to improve your organizations image / brand within the social media world. A custom web database can sort and structure thousands of posts, likes, dislikes, feeds, and other social information. The outcome is clarity and identifying opportunities as they develop in real time.
85. Streamline the HR Process. When looking at all the factors of hiring and managing employees; a custom database application can expedite the entire process. Automate the HR funnel of receiving applications, routing them to the appropriate managers, setting interview schedules, documenting credentials, and then deliver an acceptance / rejection notice. Now that they are an employee you can automate employee review notices, store employee reviews, track employee suggestions, and capture new skill sets.
86. Concentrate Your Work Force. In most organizations there are subject matter experts that get stretched thin. By consolidating the work load in a central database you can prioritize tasks and allow your SME’s to better manage their workloads.
87. Reduce Operations Costs. How much time is your staff spending value added tasks that contribute to the organization? How much of that time is spent on non-value add tasks? Many times you can reduce the non-critical tasks that steal time from the most important things employees should be doing. Examples would include; automated communications, follow up, and report generation.
88. Provide Product/Service Configurators. Guiding prospective customers through all their options of your products or services can take a considerable amount of time and the presentation of the information can vary from one person to the next. Product configurators are fantastic for showing customers all of their options and educates/empowers them to make a decision.
89. Give Structure to All Your Files. Images, documents, videos, and text files are created every day. A document management system is a way for you to clearly organize / structure your files which makes it possible for staff to reuse information rather than having to recreate it. You can’t use information if you can’t find it.
90. Visualize Your Business. A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s the same for your data as well. When you have hundreds, thousands, or millions + records; the end user can’t simply scan the information and have it be meaningful. A custom web database is a great method for present pretty pictures that communicate how your business is performing.
91. Receive Money. These are wonderful web databases… the ones that make you money. The actual transaction is made with a 3rd party transaction tool such as Braintree Payments or PayPal. The accounting and invoicing of customers can be managed to your specific needs through your application. The nice thing is that you gain PCI compliancy (credit card / bank transactions) by integrating these tools – the application allows you to get your financials in the format they your CFO wants it.
92. Access the same data at the same time. Excel and Access can’t recognize real time data updates when multiple users are in the same record. This can lead to data corruption and frustration. Custom web databases can immediately notify multiple users that a record has changed – even when both users are working on the same record.
93. Put your Internal Data to Work for You. Many organizations have spreadsheets, word documents, personal files, public files, and a myriad of other data sources. A custom database can allow you to import your spreadsheets, organize your files, and centrally store/manage who can see this information.
94. Put Your External Data to Work for You. Unlike internal data, external data comes formatted as is. By creating mapping, import logic, and integrating API’s – you can take full advantage of the available external data – and have it automatically formatted the way you want it.
95. Now Mash Up Your Data Sources. Using your internal and external information can give you a competitive advantage. Companies make decisions based on facts (data); make sure you have the most complete / accurate database program you can and create it before your competitors do.
96. Win Friends and Influence Others. When you always have the answers, thanks to your custom database, others will flock to you for your insights. Being an expert in your industry can be straightforward when you have the magic eight ball in your hands.
97. Extend Your Brand. Creating information that can be used by people to research, plan, and make decisions is a good idea. Making sure your business branding is on the web database is an even better idea.
98. Build Trust. When you open up your web database to the public a few things can happen. We have witnessed the following; there is strength in numbers, no one person or company has all the good ideas, the public will tell you what they think of you, some people are nuts – don’t cater to the crazies, and through hard work you can ultimately become the trusted source in your industry.
99. Create Top 10 Lists (or Top 100 Lists). The “Top 100 Benefits of a Custom Web Database” list was derived from reviewing our own client outcomes, internal project notes, and project files – all stored in our own database. To create this list we simply ran unique queries and applied text filters on the information. This is how we definitively know that – the # 1 reason why our clients want to build a database is because they want to solve hard problems; the # 2 reason is they want to make better decisions, and so on. We did struggle with the ordering of the “Aspirational” reasons for building a database. To solve this we decided to take the aspirational reasons and selectively insert them in the list.
100. Change the World. A database is an incredibly powerful tool. If you are a motivated individual or business and want to make a positive impact – then we can create the database tools you need to positively affect you and others. There are many public examples of world changing database applications such as Google, the Human Genome Project, Facebook, Amazon, WorldCat, Baidu, YouTube, Wikipedia, Craigslist and many more. What will you do to change the world? That question is for you to decide. Building a custom database can enable you to achieve your dreams and aspirations and make the world a better place while you are at it.
How does your custom database benefit you? Did we miss a benefit? We would like to hear from you – please go to the Contact page… we want this to be the most comprehensive list out there.