Databases store information in electronic records that may be searched, retrieved and organized in countless ways. Having your information in a database, instead of on paper or in spreadsheets, not only saves you time and preserves vital information, it allows you to see patterns in your operations that are visible in no other way.
Substantial Time Savings
Databases save time. Retrieving a single record, which may take several minutes of digging in a paper-based filing system, can be done with just a few clicks in a computerized database. Merging database records with documents makes producing paper reports almost instantaneous, eliminating hours of retyping. Data entry screens can be designed to let you see related records as you create a new one, so you don’t have to spend time wading through other records to check spellings, addresses, historical data, such as previous sales.
More Accessible Information
Databases give you lots of different ways to look at your data. A request for a specific answer or list from your database — called a “query” — can take just a minute or two to write, as opposed to hand-collating data records or sorting and resorting a spreadsheet. Plus, you can write standing queries to answer the questions you ask frequently, so an up-to-the-minute answer is just seconds away.
Ability to Link Data
Databases allow you to link different sources of information together so you can see important things about your business you might never have noticed before. Linking your sales records and your expense reimbursement accounts, for instance, lets you see whether an increase in client entertainment really does result in more closed deals. Connecting professional development and production data lets you see which training courses actually increase your productivity. Information sources that have traditionally been sequestered in separate departments can come together in a database to reveal surprising and profitable insights.
Ability to Drive Mail, Email and Social Networks
Mass customization — the ability to provide an individualized response to thousands or even millions of potential customers — depends on electronic databases to analyze customer information and generate tailored messaging. Data records can drive direct mail and email campaigns to your customers, and can even help you stay abreast of who is saying what about your product on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.