Data exchange

Top 6 data file import challenges that companies face

Eric Crane

Posted 1/24/2024

The ability to import, manage, and analyze data files efficiently is essential in today's data-driven world. Data import plays an incredibly important role in making sure that businesses can harness the power of their data for making informed decisions, optimizing operations, and driving growth. But even data file import tasks that seem straightforward have challenges that can trip up the most seasoned data professionals.

Description of data import and what makes data imports unique.

It may not always be easy, but if you're trying to make sense of your data, understanding and overcoming these challenges is necessary.

What are the six most common data file import challenges that businesses face today?

1. Implementation projects

If you have customers using your software applications, loading those apps with data is a necessary first step before the customer will get any value from using your software or service. Any delay or complication in getting their data into your app will affect your user's ROI, decrease customer satisfaction and, in some cases, can be the cause of customer churn.

Implementation projects like onboarding customers and their data are an important task for businesses everywhere, and successfully navigating the implementation process is key to ensuring a great first impression. 

2. File import features 

If you have applications where customers, prospects, employees, partners, or vendors can upload data files via self-service, you’ve probably encountered time delays, errors, and complaints from end users. Unfortunately, users who can't complete the simple task of importing their data files will almost certainly leave and won't return.

3. Orchestrating complex data workflows across diverse stakeholders

Businesses often need to be able to orchestrate complicated data workflows and deliver seamless implementation projects. Orchestrating these workflows can be incredibly challenging with the involvement of multiple teams, systems, and processes. 

If you need to coordinate, for example, 122 exhibitors, 17 external vendors, and 11 different teams that are working on 37 separate Excel files, that will require an intricate workflow for importing, validating, editing and approving data with complex transformations to split, combine and merge data easily. Making sure that the right people with the right access control manage the right data at the right time is critical.

4. Preparing data for large IT migration projects 

Preparing data for large IT migration projects can be a complicated task. Data onboarding projects that support data migration from legacy systems to a new business system require extensive data review between business stakeholders and experts. Data from old systems needs to be prepared for import into a new system, which often involves emailing Excel files back and forth over long periods for review and data cleanup. This process nearly always introduces data errors, versioning issues, time delays and frustration.

5. File feeds

Most businesses need to collect data from partners, agents, or remote employees or aggregate data from remote departments or divisions. These files might be emailed, dropped into a shared folder in Dropbox or Sharepoint, or sent via FTP. Some of them might be ready for a seamless import into a system or database, but more often, they require resources to be dedicated to a mapping, formatting, cleaning and review process before they can be combined with other data. The volume and complexity of available data constantly grow, turning data collection, import and processing into clunky and error-prone tasks. 

6. Human-in-the-loop

One unique characteristic of data imports is that they frequently require manual review with exception handling and approvals on both the sending and receiving ends. On the sending end, a user who submits a file needs to review what they're submitting. Users can't be expected to have technical skills or read lengthy instructions. They need to be able to upload a file, look through it, fill in any blanks, make simple mapping decisions, and move on. The receiving side may need to review exceptions, review data in a consolidated form or even send back requests to users to fix or update certain parts of data.

The human-in-the-loop component in the data integration process can pose significant challenges, and it requires an entirely new approach to managing data exchange. 

This infographic explains the top six data file import challenges that companies face.

The solution: Data file exchange designed from the ground up

If you keep running into these common data file import issues, your organization is most likely using cumbersome workarounds and incomplete solutions. As a result, you are incurring significant costs, missed opportunities and compliance issues, and these issues are distracting you and your team from focusing on what matters. You can address these challenges with a dedicated data file exchange solution designed from the ground up to safely and efficiently manage the data collection, import, onboarding and exchange of all such diverse data files. Data file exchange can work as a stand-alone solution, and it's also an ideal partner for traditional integration systems such as ETL tools. By leveraging the right solution, you can avoid the costs of missed opportunities, delayed revenue and the time and resources involved in creating and maintaining workarounds and homegrown tools.

Data imports are about more than just moving information from one place to another. They're about unlocking the potential of your data. Safe, simple and efficient data import processes are the foundation for having timely and accurate data across your entire organization. By conquering these common data import challenges, you'll have data your business can run on and trust, be able to make informed, data-driven decisions and seize the opportunities you might otherwise miss.

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