Over the last two years, organisations have had to think very carefully about optimising their businesses. When they're working with reduced headcounts and budgets, when business is highly competitive, they need to understand not just how to grow, but also how to optimise the resources they have, and that's a complex and difficult task.

The primary contribution of information and communication technologies (ICT) since their rapid adoption in businesses has been about efficiency and enablement: to improve processes, make people more productive, reduce time to market, or enable things that couldn't be done previously.
The focus has been on costs and payoffs, and nowhere is this more evident than the core of every ICT operation: data. Businesses are getting smarter about how to streamline, and that requires understanding all of the data their operations need.
According to the latest IDC Digital Universe study, in 2011 alone, 1,8 zettabytes (or 1,8-trillion gigabytes) of data will be created, the equivalent to every US citizen writing three Tweets per minute for 26 976 years.
And over the next decade, the number of servers managing the world's data stores will grow 10 times. And while businesses appreciate the need to effectively analyse the data relevant to them, many battle to gain access to that vital information.
“Any direct response marketer who is worth their weight will know that the most crucial part of their programme will be the mailing list. If that list does not reach their target market, than their likelihood of success will be small. Some marketers do not subscribe to this school of thought,” explains Louise Robison, sales director at CG Consulting, a company specialising in database solutions.
"They think that the package design is the most salient part. However, it has been proven that while your design may affect your response rate, your database will determine the outcome. Basically, if you mail to people that do not care about your product, you will not sell any product.
“And this applies to all areas of a business, not just marketing – any sales function requires that the sales pitch is being directed at the right person; at the decision-maker who is able to say yea or nay – whether that pitch is a new server farm, or a new supplier of stationery.”
The fastest, simplest, and most cost-effective way to achieve a comprehensive understanding of a target market, and the details of the individuals responsible for making purchasing decisions within that audience, is purchasing a clean, well-managed and well-maintained database from a third-party database provider.
“Getting leads for your business with lead generation may not always yield the leads you want. Businesses need leads if they want to make sales and be more profitable. However, they don't need just plain sales leads; they need sales leads that fit their specifications, such as target industry or job description,” says Robinson.
“Aside from that, the freshness of the leads must always be ensured. Lead generation may not always bring in these kinds of leads, which is why many clever companies choose to buy a business database.”
By buying a database, companies come into possession of all the leads they'll need in making their marketing and sales campaigns a success.
“Making a sale comes down to how good a lead is. After all, the fresher and higher-quality the lead is, the better the chances are,” says Robinson.
“You'll have a lot of fresh leads at your disposal the moment you purchase your database. Not only that, you'll have plenty of them to use.
"A database can hold millions of contacts for your firm, and this could be a source of those leads you need so much. Aside from that, your database can be made out to any criteria you may provide, thus giving you a more effective database to handle your needs. I believe that people still buy from people, and that having a contact’s correct details can help build the trust that is essential to making a sale.”
If targeted leads are what is needed, a good database can provide business leads from a particular industry. Also, all leads are filled with the relevant data needed in making a sale, thus the chances of succeeding in the sale are higher. All the data within these types of databases are accurate and updated on a regular basis, so all the leads are kept fresh.
This is especially true in Africa and the Middle East, where the emerging economies are growing rapidly, but where obtaining corporate data remains difficult due to the fact that businesses in these countries operate differently to those in established economies.
Robinson points out that international organisations looking to do business in Africa are finding a confusion of information, and many have been burned by buying databases with incorrect or incomplete information.
“If you're considering getting a business database, then find yourself a good business database provider with a good reputation. A little research goes a long way when it comes to a purchase like this, and doing so can save you from an unwanted purchase of a fake database. When looking for a provider, always choose the one that can guarantee that the database they provide is accurate and fresh.
"In Africa, for example, our clients are relying on the quality of the information we provide them – something very few database companies can do.
"When you finally found yourself a good provider, you can assure yourself that your purchase is well-worth the cost, and that the service they provide you will be satisfactory to your needs. You'll start seeing just how effective having a business database is when you start bringing in those sales,” Robinson concludes.