11 Mar The true cost of Salesforce integration in high-tech: #3 The cost of leveraging your data
by Ryan Christensen
Many high-tech businesses house data of various sorts in multiple cloud technologies, on-premise servers, databases and spreadsheets. This often presents a major challenge in effectively mining the data to dictate marketing plans or sales goals. Knowing this, many businesses are centering their system of record around a CRM platform, where that data can be used more efficiently.
In parts one and two of this series, we talked about the cost of implementing Salesforce, including a scalable and strong quote to cash software such as CPQ. Data integration, however, is a whole other ball game compared to implementation. So, what are the core differences? Why should your business integrate all of its data? How should your business prepare for that integration? What could your company do tomorrow vs. today with access to all pertinent data? And finally, how much would a project of this magnitude cost your organization to complete this effectively?
Implementing vs. integrating
Implementing is the process of adopting a new software platform for your business and adapting your business practices to the new platform through change management—Simplus’ Advisory Services is full of experienced consultants ready to take your organization through changes with ease. When a business’s IT team or a consulting company’s team, such as Simplus, stand up a new technology within the company network, that is implementing.
Integrating, on the other hand, is the process of marrying data from legacy systems to the new platform for them to “talk” effectively. Often a business wants to retain historical data and the system housing that data, but have the new investment pull information from it for customer-facing communications and campaigns, including sales strategies and forecasting. The company may very well want this to be bilateral or allow the legacy systems to draw data from the new technology, such as a CRM. According to Christian Tooley, Data Practice Director at Simplus, a proper integration strategy yields the following benefits:
- Detailed and relevant reports can be produced to guide accurate decision-making.
- Users can remain logged into one system to complete all of their tasks.
- Workflows are automated with simple points-and-clicks.
- Customer interactions can be tracked from the initial lead to opportunity, quote, order, possible shipment, and service.
- Systems have automatic checks and balances to ensure the same information is available. This eliminates duplicate and bad data.
- The end result of these benefits? Employees get more done and can respond to clients and all of their business functions much more quickly and efficiently.
Dejunking your legacy data
Now that you know how integration will be helpful to your organization, considerations leading up to this transformation to help you prepare are crucial. Data preparation is like spring cleaning: you clear out what you don’t require any longer so that you can start with a clean slate. Here are some tips for preparing your data sources for that ‘organizational spring cleaning’:
- Have a certified, highly rated consulting partner assess your company data before migration and integration. Looking at the complete data landscape and potential inconsistencies you may have overlooked will be critical to the long-term success of this undertaking.
- Outline your current business processes and map them to a desired and realistic future-state. A solid architecture map yields good data.
- Evaluate the current state of the data. This likely will require modification and cleansing to fit within the new technology’s business requirements.
Tips for leveraging data
Once you have developed a fully integrated data set within your organization, what possibilities have opened up to you that didn’t exist prior? There are numerous articles on this subject available, so allow me to share a few considerations:
- Create targeted marketing and sales campaigns—by demographic and behavioral information about your customers. This will help identify the supply needs of prospective customers.
- Track marketing activities of specific clients—including visits to the company website(s), premium content downloads, and email correspondence. These data points help complete the picture of how your existing or future client interacts with you and likely will in the future.
- Personalize messaging—customize all of your messaging and branding to the exact type of persona and audience (CTO’s speak a different language than the VP of Sales).
- Search for prospects—Mine your CRM data for your next top prospects and build a similar audience that matches this profile.
- Keep your data clean—It is estimated that an average of 2% requires clean-up. Actively monitor and maintain what you’ve worked hard to accomplish through both implementation and integration. If this is laborious beyond the current tasks of your staff, consider a Managed Services offering to assist with your backlog and accelerate the time to market for your upcoming projects.
- On a final note, use your data to assist with organizing inventory, quantifying market influences, monitoring competitors as well as determining the optimal timing for a new product launch.
Cost of integration
Your business requirements likely vary greatly from another company, even within the same industry. Partner with a consultancy to review the entire set of goals, including the total quantity of systems and data sizes that are being considered. There are many middleware technologies to assist in the process. An example of Salesforce’s offering can be found here.
A crucial investment that is often delayed or thought about last is the most important of all – the investment into your employees. This is imperative to the new process adoption and long-term success within your organization. Salesforce offers several training modules for free via their Trailhead site, which are namely product focused. The cultural requirement shifts are equally important and those process improvements and the communication to the organization are the keystones to the overall success.
Ryan Christensen is the Director of Vertical Sales at Simplus. He has over 12 years of technology sales experience and a diverse background ranging from start-ups to industry-leading enterprise organizations, specializing in SaaS and its services. Ryan recently participated in the CEO keynote at Dreamforce 2017, focusing on the success Adidas is having using Salesforce globally. He is travel-obsessed, fearless on the dance floor, and bilingual in English and Italian.