Today’s businesses have access to more data — and because of it, more opportunities for data integration — than ever before.
Case in point: Facebook is currently arguing in court over its controversial location tracking features, which continue to track user locations even when location tracking has been turned “off.”
In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, it is estimated that globally, 463 exabytes of data will be created every day by the year 2025.
While much of this information comes from social media, Google searches, and smart devices, quite a bit is also captured and produced by companies as they engage with customers and attempt to boost their SEO rankings.
But while there is a lot of data available, not all companies are making use of this information. In fact, a study from the Harvard Business Review reveals that 53 percent of c-suite executives don’t treat data as a business asset. 69 percent admit they haven’t created a “data-driven organization.” This represents a major lost opportunity.
To that end, I recently sat down with Henning Lund, CEO of RapidiOnline to discuss why data integration needs to become a key priority for businesses. Working in data integration since the 1990s, Lund was a Global Microsoft Excellence award winner in 2011, and served in leadership roles in several other data companies prior to founding RapidiOnline in 2016.
Greater Understanding of Customer Relationships
According to research from InsideSales, 50 percent of buyers choose a vendor based on who responds first. Without quality data to keep track of qualified leads, however, many vendors miss out on these opportunities altogether.
“One of the biggest areas where we’ve seen data make a difference is in managing customer relationships in sales,” Lund explains.
“Sales teams can have seemingly overwhelming numbers of leads and customers that they are working with, and without quality data systems to organize everything, it becomes all too easy for some of these to fall through the cracks. Data allows you to track everything from the last time you reached out and the last time they placed an order to changes within their organization.”
With clearly organized information, sales teams can operate more efficiently as they identify and pursue qualified leads. This can dramatically increase profitability.
These thoughts are echoed by Jason Kulpa of the Forbes Agency Council, who writes, “CRM helps businesses learn about their customers, including who they are and why they purchase your products, as well as trends in customers’ purchasing histories. This allows businesses to better anticipate their customers’ needs and, as a result, fulfill them.”
Being able to deliver a quality experience that helps fulfill customer needs can make all the difference for your company’s long-term viability. In American Express’s 2017 Customer Service Barometer survey, approximately 70 percent of U.S. customers said they were willing to spend “more money to do business with a company that delivers great service.”
Eliminate Errors For Greater Efficiency
When companies have disconnected systems, a wide range of issues can occur. Separate silos of data can prevent departments from easily sharing key insights or information. Not to mention that it often leads to manual, double-data entry that is time-consuming and error-prone. Such issues can ultimately hurt your team’s productivity and profitability.
Data integration tools circumvent these issues by automatically sharing information, ensuring that employees don’t have to manually enter data into multiple systems.
“You’d be surprised at how often errors and duplicates occur when a business relies on manual data entry,” Lund notes. “When employees are stuck in a mundane task for so long, they tend to lose focus and become more likely to make a mistake.”
Even a single mistake can have significant consequences when attempting to make a statistical analysis, skewing results and leading to erroneous decisions.
The value of software-driven data entry and analysis was highlighted as far back as 2009 in a study by UNLV. In the study, 215 students were provided with 30 data sheets (each containing multiple types of data) for visual checking and input.
In the group where students processed the data by themselves, each volunteer averaged 10.23 errors. When a software system was used to automatically check the data, the mistake rate fell to 0.38 errors per set.
With today’s data programs being even more advanced, the disparity would likely be even greater in a modern version of this experiment. Eliminating data errors can help cut unnecessary spending and reduce downtime, giving your team more time to focus on other more customer-oriented tasks. Data integration is the missing link to better results.
Real-time Information Leads to Better Decision-Making
One key advantage of today’s data integration solutions is the availability of real-time information.
“Today’s data integration tools can draw from all your sources of information — sales platforms, warehouse inventory and so on — and they can be updated in real time,” Lund says.
“When this data is all brought together under a single platform, it becomes much easier to gain a full picture of what is happening in your company.”
Real-time data makes it easier to gain actionable insights regarding the state of the company. This actually minimizes risk by ensuring that you are making decisions based on accurate and up to date information.
For example, in a recent interview discussing Bryan Brandenburg’s new initiative Zenerchi, Brandenburg noted how one goal of the brand was to “create an interface between the modules so that not only are they much more accessible than they were before and produce much more meaningful visual results, but now they are going to start to talk to each other.”
In this case, integrated data leads to more powerful and insightful medical simulations to ensure greater training possibilities for medical professionals.
CRM platforms such as Salesforce deliver great value to companies by facilitating team collaboration and improving time management. With all data kept in one convenient location, employees become empowered to resolve client issues on their own. Live data gives sales teams the insights they need to close sales more effectively.
But these platforms unleash their full value when integrated with other data storage systems, such as a company’s ERP. Tools that integrate with pre-existing platforms like Salesforce are even easier for companies to adopt and utilize as they attempt to make better use of their data, as illustrated in this infographic from Rapidi:
This is part of the same impetus behind efforts at making artificial intelligence more accessible to small businesses. Machine learning tools may soon be able to draw from the data collected by the company to automate routine decisions or even suggest a course of action for major business activities.
Because this information can be shared across departments, it can also improve the efficiency of your team as a whole. “Synchronizing data from multiple platforms allows in-house and remote teams to more easily share information with each other,” Lund explains.
“Cross-departmental sharing of data can improve efficiency when working on a major project, simply by eliminating the need to log in to a separate platform or ask another department for access to their data.”
Ready for More Reliable Growth?
While the sheer amount of available data can seem overwhelming, it is clear that taking advantage of the information that is readily available can have a significant impact for your company’s results.
By leveraging tools that allow you to more easily interpret and act upon your data, you will be better equipped for future market opportunities.