Data analytics is here to stay – it’s the secret weapon that puts the “intelligence” into Business Intelligence (BI). However, as you might imagine, data analytics is only ever as good as the data obtained and the processes used to derive trends and insights from that data. Full data management platform integration is the best way to safeguard these insights.
As Michael Higgins, founder and CEO of Planergy wrote in Forbes Magazine, leaders are “using business intelligence to collect, organize and analyze information that can be leveraged to strengthen competitive advantage and drive both innovation and value creation.” To derive such value from the underlying data it must be:
· Sufficient in volume – covering all activities and territories you’re interested in.
· Accurate and complete – with information properly recorded and comparable.
· Available for analysis – your tools must be able to access it.
· Properly integrated – data tools must be integrated exactly in line with your needs.
While there are several popular data management platforms, they are only as good as the underlying data and the integrations which grant access to it. Unfortunately, there are several common blockers to data management platform integrations, which we’ll consider next.
Data Siloing – A Barrier to Data Management Platform Integration
A data silo is a pool of information available to one department but kept separate from others.
For instance, sales teams have a reservoir of data concerning sales performance, pricing fluctuations and market penetration. Marketing may have another source of data from focus groups and sentiment analysis of product reviews, while customer service keeps a third database of common feedback and suggestions.
Clearly, it would be helpful to correlate these different sources to gain a comprehensive insight into brand performance. It’s unlikely that there has been any deliberate decision to silo data in that way. It’s more commonly the case that each department is using a different tool or app that won’t fully integrate with the software being used by other teams.
The result is that nobody has full oversight over data traffic and patterns across the whole organization. Clearly siloing is something to avoid.
The Value of Full Data Management Platform Integration
Let’s assume that there is a way to properly integrate all data within an organization. What benefits would this convey? There are several, so let’s look at each in turn.
Full Oversight of your Sales Funnel
The customer journey doesn’t begin when a salesperson makes a call, or an email is sent to a prospect. It begins long before that point, when a potential customer first encounters your brand message and begins to form an opinion of the value of your product or service.
This top-of-the-funnel behavior can be hard to detect and leverage, without data coming in from marketing and R&D departments. On the other hand, if your sales team has up to date information about what the public is saying about your brand and product, and how well landing pages and advertising campaigns are working, they can build a better strategy to convince wavering prospects and convert them into buyers.
Better Designed Products and Services
Particularly in products that have regular iterations and updates, such as smartphones or SaaS, getting good feedback from current and prospective customers is vital. Your R&D department needs to hear from customer service and support teams, as well as from marketing executives who are finding out exactly what potential customers want.
While opinions, briefings and summaries are very useful, there’s no substitute to the raw data that can be gleaned, for instance, by performing sentiment analysis on thousands of product reviews. Crucially, this can also be undertaken for competitor products, so your R&D teams can see where your product isn’t shaping up as well as your rivals’ offering.
In fact, there’s a cycle of information to maintain, with R&D and market research data informing marketing and sales who, in turn, pass their insights back to R&D.
Better Marketing and Advertising Campaigns
When you know what aspects of your product most appeal to consumers, you can shape better advertising campaigns. Market research and customer feedback can give you these insights, but only if marketing professionals have oversight of the relevant data. They also need to know what customers are saying about rival products and services.
How do you derive and sell the USPs of your product if you don’t know whether those selling points really are unique? How can you market to an audience if you don’t have access to buyer behavior data or demographics, and you haven’t been able to create accurate buyer personas?
Building a fully rounded picture of your prospective customers requires information from a range of data sources, including competitor intelligence, sentiment analysis, customer feedback and even the FAQs derived from customer support teams. These data sources can help you fill in the blanks when focus groups and survey respondents don’t provide all the insight you need.
A Better Customer Experience
When your customer feedback is accessible by sales and marketing teams, as well as product designers and developers, your offering can be continuously improved. Customers feel heard when their feedback is actively incorporated in future product iterations, and this translates to higher uptake and improved revenue.
Mistakes are minimized when departments receive accurate and complete information from one another too, further improving the customer experience.
Data sharing between teams and departments can only serve to improve organizational cohesion. Employees learn how interdependent they are and how their decisions affect the performance of teams both upstream and downstream in the revenue generation process.
Cloud-based data platforms allow employees working from home, or from other remote locations, to share in the same resource pool as those based in physical offices. Furthermore, transparency promotes trust, and helps departments which may, in the past, have had something of a thorny relationship, build towards a unified corporate strategy.
The Problem with Native Integrations
Although there are a lot of high-performing data analytic platforms available to the modern organization, the integrations such platforms offer are far from ideal. Native integrations necessarily must adopt a “one size fits all” approach, since the software designers can’t anticipate how each client is planning to use data across departments.
This has inevitable negative consequences for the client:
- It can promote a false sense of security – while an attempt at data management platform integration has been made, it hasn’t fully been achieved.
- Dataflow can be uneven – with blockages and problems hard to diagnose.
- Data integrity can be problematic in ways which are hard to detect, since incorrectly formatted data is simply ignored and not included in the information pools.
Contrast this with bespoke API integration. Under this approach, a data analytic provider consults with each client to shape data pipelines which deliver all the information the client needs. The provider builds a unique network for data pooling for each client and makes sure that everything works as predicted.
This data pooling will ideally entail a preceding stage of integrity checking, so that any blockages in the information pipeline can be addressed. Finally, data is pooled and presented in the form of intuitive, insightful dashboards and via a range of reports tailored to each stakeholder.
Unlock the Power of your CRM
Your Customer Relationship Management platform is a huge resource you’re almost certainly not using to its full potential. While you can gain valuable insights from marketing departments, sales reps and market researchers, there’s nothing quite like tapping into your pool of existing customers for their insights, ideas, and feedback.
By running regular user surveys, you can highlight problems, opportunities, and areas for improvement. Usage data (from SaaS products) can inform R&D departments about which parts of the product offering are currently underperforming.
An often-overlooked usage for your CRM platform is to inform better sales strategy. As Harvard Business Review puts it, too many executives use their CRM system “to report on progress, improve accuracy of forecasts, provide visibility, predict project delivery dates, and provide a range of other business intelligence — rather than creating improvement in the sales process.”
By fully integrating your CRM, sales tools, research platforms, support logs and other data sources, you’ll gain full access to unfiltered customer opinions across the full spectrum from delighted reviewers on Capterra to the angriest complainer to your tech support team. This can help you retool your product offering, sales, and marketing campaign to capture a bigger slice of your potential customer base.
Going Beyond Native Integrations
So how can you locate, inspect and harness all that raw data to squeeze maximum value from it? Simply by partnering with a data management firm who will create bespoke integrations to deliver all the insights you could want.
Vertify’s RevConnect creates data management platform integrations that perfectly link your sales, marketing, CRM, ecommerce, and support portals together so that data can flow between them. Some of our most popular data management platform integrations include HubSpot, Shopify, Marketo, NetSuite, Salesforce, Bullhorn and more, but we will gladly work with whatever tech stack you have.
Author: Matt Klepac | CEO | Vertify