Adopting Salesforce CRM: The Importance Of Data Integration

Here is part two of my interview with Informatica’s Scott Geffre. Scott has led the CRM rollout at Informatica, helping the company migrate from Pivotal to salesforce.com. In the first half of our discussion, he spoke about evaluating TCO and some of the benefits of software as a service (SaaS) applications. In this post, Scott talks about the importance of cloud integration, the challenges of hand coding,  and master data management (MDM).

What role does integration play when it comes to adopting a SaaS/Cloud solution?
As we evaluated the cost/benefits of migrating to a new CRM platform, my team worked closely with Sales Operations to build the business case. Our primary objective was to help our sales team spend more time engaging with customers and prospective customers, and less time trying to find information. To be effective, they needed better data visibility and ease of integration with other applications so they always have the right information at their fingertips.  A key differentiator for us was the AppExchange. The fact that there is an ecosystem of surrounding applications that can help us deliver immediate ROI was huge. Now, if new functionality is needed, we can go out to the AppExchange and try it before we buy it. We can test it in our sandbox and see how it goes before plugging it into the production environment.  The ability to quickly deploy tools to our sales team that increase productivity has a direct connection to revenue, and it gives us the flexibility to not have to make big investments before we know they will work.

How does your team think about data integration?
We talked a lot internally about how this project was like open-heart surgery due to the amount of systems hooked into the environment. We needed to ensure that all previous integrations to the CRM application were pulled out and integrated into the new platform to ensure business process continuity. Many organizations will tackle this challenge by simply doing some API coding and making database calls manually. Inevitably they get buried under hand-coded interfaces, which leads to maintenance and complexity challenges over time. It also means you have a bunch of code that can’t be leveraged in other areas. One area where we benefit from Informatica’s Data Integration Platform is re-use. We built an order-status integration with our ERP system and now we can leverage and tweak those mappings for our renewals and quoting integrations without having to write them from scratch. With hand-coding there’s no reusability.

How do you think about Master Data Management (MDM)?
Data quality is incredibly important for all aspects of our business and CRM is often the first place where things can go wrong. MDM was an integral part of our salesforce.com implementation, and by leveraging our Customer and Contact MDM solution, we were able to provide a lot of value for the field in a few different ways. First off, we’re using MDM to clean and standardize lead data which gives the Direct Response team better data to work with when following up with potential customers. Secondly, we’ve based a lot of our territory definitions such as named accounts and verticals on the data coming from MDM, which eliminates the need to manually maintain them in salesforce.com. Finally, we’re pulling company hierarchy data from MDM into salesforce.com, which provides a “total view of the customer” in what we call a 360 report. By having MDM-maintained hierarchy data in salesforce.com, a sales rep can see related opportunities and leads, what activity is going on in subsidiaries and what opportunities there might be to expand a customer’s usage of the Informatica suite.

Thanks Scott!

In my next post we’ll dig a little deeper into some of the data warehousing and analytics aspects of the implementation.
This entry was posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Cloud Computing, Data Migration, Data Synchronization, Integration Competency Centers, Operational Efficiency, PaaS, SaaS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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