Category Archives: Cloud Data Management

Cloud Data Management

What’s Next for the Cloud, Coming to a City Near You (If you’re in NYC or San Francisco)

Training Seminars for Cloud Application Owners and Salesforce Practitioners

Free Training Seminars for Cloud Application Owners and Salesforce Practitioners

March 20th 2015 was the official start of spring and to be honest, it couldn’t have come soon enough for us folks in the North East.  After a long, cold and snowy winter we’re looking forward to the spring thaw and the first green shoots of burgeoning life. Spring is also the time that we like to tackle new projects and start afresh after our winter hibernation.

For those of us in technology new spring projects often reflect the things we do in everyday life.  Naturally our mind turns at this time to spring cleaning and spring training.  To be honest, we’d have to admit that we haven’t scrubbed our data in three months so data cleansing is a must, but so too is training.  We probably haven’t picked up a book or attended a seminar since last November.  But what training should we do?  And “what should we do next?”

Luckily, Informatica is providing the answer.  We’ve put together two free, half day training seminars for cloud application owners and Salesforce practitioners.  That’s two dates, two fantastic locations and dozens of brilliant speakers lined up to give you some new pointers for what’s coming next in the world of cloud and SaaS.

The goals of the event are to give you the tools and knowledge to strengthen your Salesforce implementation and help you delight your customers.  The sessions will include presentations by experts from Salesforce and our partner Bluewolf.  There will also be some best practices presentations and demonstrations from Informatica’s team of very talented engineers.

Just glance at the seminar summary and you’ll see what we mean:

Session 1: Understand the Opportunity of Every Customer Interaction

In this session Eric Berridge, Co-founder and CEO of Bluewolf Inc. will discuss how you can develop a customer obsessed culture and get the most value from every customer interaction.

Session 2: Delight Your Customers by Taking Your Salesforce Implementation to the Next Level

Ajay Gandhi, Informatica’s VP Product Marketing is next up and he’s going to provide a fabulous session on what you look out for, and where should you invest as your Salesforce footprint grows.

Session 3: Anticipate Your Business Needs With a Fresh Approach to Customer Analytics

The seminar wraps up with Benjamin Pruden, Sr. Manager Product Marketing, at Salesforce. Ben’s exciting session touches on one of the hottest topics in the industry today.  He’s going to explain how you can obtain a comprehensive understanding of your most valuable customers with cloud-analytics and data-driven dashboards.

I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a pretty impressive seminar and well worth a couple of hours of your time.

The New York event is happening at Convene (810 Seventh Ave, 52nd and 53rd ) on April 7thClick here for more details and to reserve your seat.

The San Francisco event is a week later on April 14th at Hotel Nikko (222 Mason Street). Make sure you click here and register today.

Come join us on the 7th or the 14th to learn how to take your cloud business to the next level. Oh, and don’t forget that you’ll also be treating yourself to some well-deserved spring training!

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Posted in B2B, B2B Data Exchange, Business Impact / Benefits, Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Informatica joins new ServiceMax Marketplace – offers rapid, cost effective integration with ERP and Cloud apps for Field Service Automation

ERP

Informatica Partners with ServiceMax

To deliver flawless field service, companies often require integration across multiple applications for various work processes.  A good example is automatically ordering and shipping parts through an ERP system to arrive ahead of a timely field service visit.  Informatica has partnered with ServiceMax, the leading field service automation solution, and subsequently joined the new ServiceMax Marketplace to offer customers integration solutions for many ERP and Cloud applications frequently involved in ServiceMax deployments.  Comprised of Cloud Integration Templates built on Informatica Cloud for frequent customer integration “patterns”, these solutions will speed and cost contain the ServiceMax implementation cycle and help customers realize the full potential of their field service initiatives.

Existing members of the ServiceMax Community can see a demo or take advantage of a free 30-day trial that provides full capabilities of Informatica Cloud Integration for ServiceMax with prebuilt connectors to hundreds of 3rd party systems including SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, Netsuite and Workday, powered by the Informatica Vibe virtual data machine for near-universal access to cloud and on-premise data.  The Informatica Cloud Integration for Servicemax solution:

  • Accelerates ERP integration through prebuilt Cloud templates focused on key work processes and the objects on common between systems as much as 85%
  • Synchronizes key master data such as Customer Master, Material Master, Sales Orders, Plant information, Stock history and others
  • Enables simplified implementation and customization through easy to use user interfaces
  • Eliminates the need for IT intervention during configuration and deployment of ServiceMax integrations.

We look forward to working with ServiceMax through the ServiceMax Marketplace to help joint customers deliver Flawless Service!

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Posted in 5 Sales Plays, Business Impact / Benefits, Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management, Data Integration, Data Integration Platform, Data Migration, Data Synchronization, Operational Efficiency, Professional Services, SaaS | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Informatica Supports New Custom ODBC/JDBC Drivers for Amazon Redshift

Informatica’s Redshift connector is a state-of-the-art Bulk-Load type connector which allows users to perform all CRUD operations on Amazon Redshift. It makes use of AWS best practices to load data at high throughput in a safe and secure manner and is available on Informatica Cloud and PowerCenter.

Today we are excited to announce the support of Amazon’s newly launched custom JDBC and ODBC drivers for Redshift. Both the drivers are certified for Linux and Windows environments.

Informatica’s Redshift connector will package the JDBC 4.1 driver which further enhances our meta-data fetch capabilities for tables and views in Redshift. That improves our overall design-time responsiveness by over 25%. It also allows us to query multiple tables/views and retrieve the result-set using primary and foreign key relationships.

Amazon’s ODBC driver enhances our FULL Push Down Optimization capabilities on Redshift. Some of the key differentiating factors are support for the SYSDATE variable, functions such as ADD_TO_DATE(), ASCII(), CONCAT(), LENGTH(), TO_DATE(), VARIANCE() etc. which weren’t possible before.

Amazon’s ODBC driver is not pre-packaged but can be directly downloaded from Amazon’s S3 store.

Once installed, the user can change the default ODBC System DSN in ODBC Data Source Administrator.

Redshift

To learn more, sign up for the free trial of Informatica’s Redshift connector for Informatica Cloud or PowerCenter.

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What’s All the Mania Around SaaS Data?

SaaSIt’s no secret that the explosion of software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps has revolutionized the way businesses operate. From humble beginnings, the titans of SaaS today include companies such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Marketo, and Workday that have gone public and attained multi-billion dollar valuations.  The success of these SaaS leaders has had a domino effect in adjacent areas of the cloud – infrastructure, databases, and analytics.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), which originally had only six services in 2006 with the launch of Amazon EC2, now has over 30 ranging from storage, relational databases, data warehousing, Big Data, and more. Salesforce.com’s Wave platform, Tableau Software, and Qlik have made great advances in the cloud analytics arena, to give better visibility to line-of-business users. And as SaaS applications embrace new software design paradigms that extend their functionality, application performance monitoring (APM) analytics has emerged as a specialized field from vendors such as New Relic and AppDynamics.

So, how exactly did the growth of SaaS contribute to these adjacent sectors taking off?

The growth of SaaS coincided with the growth of powerful smartphones and tablets. Seeing this form factor as important to the end user, SaaS companies rushed to produce mobile apps that offered core functionality on their mobile device. Measuring adoption of these mobile apps was necessary to ensure that future releases met all the needs of the end user. Mobile apps contain a ton of information such as app responsiveness, features utilized, and data consumed. As always, there were several types of users, with some preferring a laptop form factor over a smartphone or tablet. With the ever increasing number of data points to measure within a SaaS app, the area of application performance monitoring analytics really took off.

Simultaneously, the growth of the SaaS titans cemented their reputation as not just applications for a certain line-of-business, but into full-fledged platforms. This growth emboldened a number of SaaS startups to develop apps that solved specialized or even vertical business problems in healthcare, warranty-and-repair, quote-to-cash, and banking. To get started quickly and scale rapidly, these startups leveraged AWS and its plethora of services.

The final sector that has taken off thanks to the growth of SaaS is the area of cloud analytics. SaaS grew by leaps and bounds because of its ease of use, and rapid deployment that could be achieved by business users. Cloud analytics aims to provide the same ease of use for business users when providing deep insights into data in an interactive manner.

In all these different sectors, what’s common is the fact that SaaS growth has created an uptick in the volume of data and the technologies that serve to make it easier to understand. During Informatica’s Data Mania event (March 4th, San Francisco) you’ll find several esteemed executives from Salesforce, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, Dun & Bradstreet, Qlik, Marketo, and AppDynamics talk about the importance of data in the world of SaaS.

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management, SaaS | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Data Streams, Data Lakes, Data Reservoirs, and Other Large Data Bodies

data lake

Data Lake is a catchment area for data entering the organization

A Data Lake is a simple concept. They are a catchment area for data entering the organization. In the past, most businesses didn’t need to organize such a data store because almost all data was internal. It traveled via traditional ETL mechanisms from transactional systems to a data warehouse and then was sprayed around the business, as required.

When a good deal of data comes from external sources, or even from internal sources like log files, which never previously made it into the data warehouse, there is a need for an “operational data store.” This has definitely become the premier application for Hadoop and it makes perfect sense to me that such technology be used for a data catchment area. The neat thing about Hadoop for this application is that:

  1. It scales out “as far as the eye can see,” so there’s no likelihood of it being unable to manage the data volumes even when they grow beyond the petabyte level.
  2. It is a key-value store, which means that you don’t need to expend much effort in modeling data when you decide to accommodate a new data source. You just define a key and define the metadata at leisure.
  3. The cost of the software and the storage is very low.

So let’s imagine that we have a need for a data catchment area, because we have decided to collect data from log-files, mobile devices, social networks, from public data sources, or whatever. So let us also imagine that we have implemented Hadoop and some of its useful components and we have begun to collect data.

Is it reasonable to describe this as a data lake?

A Hadoop implementation should not be a set of servers randomly placed at the confluence of various data flows. The placement needs to be carefully considered and if the implementation is to resemble a “data lake” in any way, then it must be a well-engineered man-made lake. Since the data doesn’t just sit there until it evaporates but eventually flows to various applications, we should think of this as a “data reservoir” rather than a “data lake.”

There is no point in arranging all that data neatly along the aisles because when we get it, we may not know what we want to do with it at the time we get it. We should organize the data when we know that.

Another reason we should think of this as more like a reservoir than a lake is that we might like to purify the data a little before sending it down the pipes to applications or users that want to use it.

Twitter @bigdatabeat

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Posted in Architects, Big Data, CIO, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management, DaaS, Hadoop, IaaS | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ready for Internet of Things?

internet_of_thingsData has always played a key role in informing decisions – machine generated and intuitive.  In the past, much of this data came from transactional databases as well as unstructured sources, such as emails and flat files.  Mobile devices appeared next on the map.  We have found applications of such devices not just to make calls but also to send messages, take a picture, and update status on social media sites.  As a result, new sets of data got created from user engagements and interactions.  Such data started to tell a story by connecting dots at different location points and stages of user connection.  “Internet of Things” or IoT is the latest technology to enter the scene that could transform how we view and use data on a massive scale.

Another buzzword? 

Does IoT present a significant opportunity for companies to transform their business processes?  Internet of Things probably add an important awareness veneer when it comes to data.  It could bring data early in focus by connecting every step of data creation stages in any business process.  It could de-couple the lagging factor in consuming data and making decisions based on it.  Data generated at every stage in a business process could show an interesting trend or pattern and better yet, tell a connected story.  Result could be predictive maintenance of equipment involved in any process that would further reduce cost.  New product innovations would happen by leveraging the connectedness in data as generated by each step in a business process.  We would soon begin to understand not only where the data is being used and how, but also what’s the intent and context behind this usage.  Organizations could then connect with their customers in a one-on-one fashion like never before, whether to promote a product or offer a promotion that could be both time and place sensitive.  New opportunities to tailor product and services offering for customers on an individual basis would create new growth areas for businesses.  Internet of Things could make it a possibility by bringing together previously isolated sets of data.

Proof-points

Recent Economist report, “The Virtuous Circle of Data: Engaging Employees in Data and Transforming Your Business” suggests that 68% of data-driven businesses outperform their competitors when it comes to profitability.  78% of those businesses foster a better culture of creativity and innovation.  Report goes on to suggest that 3 areas are critical for an organization to build a data-driven business, including data supported by devices: 1) Technology & Tools, 2) Talent & Expertise, and 3) Culture & Leadership.  By 2020, it’s projected that there’ll be 50B connected devices, 7x more than human beings on the planet.  It is imperative for an organization to have a support structure in place for device generated data and a strategy to connect with broader enterprise-wide data initiatives.

A comprehensive Internet of Things strategy would leverage speed and context of data to the advantage of business process owners.  Timely access to device generated data can open up the channels of communication to end-customers in a personalized at the moment of their readiness.  It’s not enough anymore to know what customers may want or what they asked for in the past; rather anticipating what they might want by connecting dots across different stages.  IoT generated data can help bridge this gap.

How to Manage IoT Generated Data

More data places more pressure on both quality and security factors – key building blocks for trust in one’s data.  Trust is ideally truth over time.  Consistency in data quality and availability is going to be key requirement for all organizations to introduce new products or service differentiated areas in a speedy fashion.  Informatica’s Intelligent Data Platform or IDP brings together industry’s most comprehensive data management capabilities to help organizations manage all data, including device generated, both in the cloud and on premise.  Informatica’s IDP enables an automated sensitive data discovery, such that data discovers users in the context where it’s needed.

Cool IoT Applications

There are a number of companies around the world that are working on interesting applications of Internet of Things related technology.  Smappee from Belgium has launched an energy monitor that can itemize electricity usage and control a household full of devices by clamping a sensor around the main power cable. This single device can recognize individual signatures produced by each of the household devices and can let consumers switch off any device, such as an oven remotely via smartphone.  JIBO is a IoT device that’s touted as the world’s first family robot.  It automatically uploads data in the cloud of all interactions.  Start-ups such as Roost and Range OI can retrofit older devices with Internet of Things capabilities.  One of the really useful IoT applications could be found in Jins Meme glasses and sunglasses from Japan.  They embed wearable sensors that are shaped much like Bluetooth headsets to detect drowsiness in its wearer.  It observes the movement of eyes and blinking frequency to identify tiredness or bad posture and communicate via iOS and android smartphone app.  Finally, Mellow is a new kind of kitchen robot that makes it easier by cooking ingredients to perfection while someone is away from home. Mellow is a sous-vide machine that takes orders through your smartphone and keeps food cold until it’s the exact time to start cooking.

Closing Comments

Each of the application mentioned above deals with data, volumes of data, in real-time and in stored fashion.  Such data needs to be properly validated, cleansed, and made available at the moment of user engagement.  In addition to Informatica’s Intelligent Data Platform, newly introduced Informatica’s Rev product can truly connect data coming from all sources, including IoT devices and make it available for everyone.  What opportunity does IoT present to your organization?  Where are the biggest opportunities to disrupt the status quo?

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Posted in 5 Sales Plays, Big Data, Cloud, Cloud Data Management, Customer Services, Customers, Data Integration Platform, Enterprise Data Management, Intelligent Data Platform, Wearable Devices | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Real-time Data Puts CEO in Charge of Customer Relationships

real-time_data

Real Time Data good for better Customer Relationships

In 2014, Informatica Cloud focused a great deal of attention on the needs and challenges of the citizen integrator. These are the critical business users at the core of every company: The customer-facing sales rep at the front, as well as the tireless admin at the back. We all know and rely on these men and women. And up until very recently, they’ve been almost entirely reliant on IT for the integration tasks and processes needed to be successful at their jobs.

A lot of that has changed over the last year or so. In a succession of releases, we provided these business users with the tools to take matters into their hands. And with the assistance of key ecosystem partners, such as Salesforce, SAP, Amazon, Workday, NetSuite and the hundreds of application developers that orbit them, we’ve made great progress toward giving business users the self-sufficiency they need, and demand. But, beyond giving these users the tools to integrate and connect with their apps and information at will, what we’ve really done is give them the ability to focus their attention and efforts on their most valuable customers. By doing so, we have got to core of the real purpose and importance of the whole cloud project or enterprise: The customer relationship.

In a recent Fortune interview, Salesforce CEO and cloud evangelist Marc Benioff echoed that idea when he stated that “The CEO is now in charge of the customer relationship.” What he meant by that is companies now have the ability to tie all aspects of their marketing – website, customer service, email marketing, social, sales, etc. – into “one canonical file” with all the respective customer information. By organizing the enterprise around the customer this way, the company can then pivot all of their efforts toward the customer relationship, which is what is required if a business is going to have and sustain success as we move through the 2010s and beyond.

We are in complete agreement with Marc and think it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to declare 2015 as the year of the customer relationship. In fact, helping companies and business users focus their attention toward the customer has been a core focus of ours for some time. For an example, you don’t have to look much further than the latest iteration of our real-time application integration capability.

In a short video demo that I recommend to everyone, my colleague Eric does a fantastic job of walking users through the real-time features available through the Informatica Cloud platform.

As the demo demonstrates, the real-time features let you build a workflow process application that interacts with data from cloud and on-premise sources right from the Salesforce user interface (UI). It’s quick and easy, thus allowing you to devote more time to your customers and less time on “plumbing.”

The workflows themselves are created with the help of a drag-and-drop process designer that enables the user to quickly create a new process and configure the parameters, inputs and outputs, and decision steps with the click of a few buttons.

Once the process guide is created, it displays as a window embedded right in the Salesforce UI. So if, for example, you’ve created an opportunity-to-order guide, you can follow a wizard-driven process that walks your users from new opportunity creation through to the order confirmation, and everything in between.

As users move through the process, they can interact in real time with data from any on-premise or cloud-based source they choose. In the example from the video, the user, Eric, chooses a likely prospect from a list of company contacts, and with a few keystrokes creates a new opportunity in Salesforce.  In a further demonstration of the real-time capability, Eric performs a NetSuite query, logs a client call, escalates a case to customer service, pulls the latest price book information from an Oracle database, builds out the opportunity items, creates the order in SAP, and syncs it all back to Salesforce, all without leaving the wizard interface.

The capabilities available via Informatica Cloud’s application integration are a gigantic leap forward for business users and an evolutionary step toward pivoting the enterprise toward the customer. As 2015 takes hold we will see this become increasingly important as companies continue to invest in the cloud. This is especially true for those cloud applications, like the Salesforce Analytics, Marketing and Sales Clouds, that need immediate access to the latest and most reliable customer data to make them all work — and truly establish you as the CEO in charge of customer relationships.

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How Great Data in the Cloud Can Make for Greater Business Outcomes

Great Cloud Data Improves Business Outcomes

Great Cloud Data Improves Business Outcomes

The technology you use in your business can either help or hinder your business objectives.

In the past, slow and manual processes had an inhibiting effect on customer services and sales interactions, thus dragging down the bottom line.

Now, with cloud technology and customers interacting at record speeds, companies expect greater returns from each business outcome. What do I mean when I say business outcome?

Well according to Bluewolf’s State of Salesforce Report, you can split these into four categories: acquisition, expansion, retention and cost reduction.

With the right technology and planning, a business can speedily acquire more customers, expand to new markets, increase customer retention and ensure they are doing all of this efficiently and cost effectively. But what happens when the data or the way you’re interacting with these technologies grow unchecked, and/or becomes corrupted and unreliable.

With data being the new fuel for decision-making, you need to make sure it’s clean, safe and reliable.

With clean data, Salesforce customers, in the above-referenced Bluewolf survey, reported efficiency and productivity gains (66%), improved customer experience (34%), revenue growth (32%) and cost reduction (21%) in 2014.

It’s been said that it costs a business 10X more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones. But, despite the additional cost, real continued growth requires the acquisition of new customers.

Gaining new customers, however, requires a great sales team who knows what and to whom they’re selling. With Salesforce, you have that information at your fingertips, and the chance to let your sales team be as good as they can possibly be.

And this is where having good data fits in and becomes critically important. Because, well, you can have great technology, but it’s only going to be as good as the data you’re feeding it.

The same “garbage in, garbage out” maxim holds true for practically any data-driven or –reliant business process or outcome, whether it’s attracting new customers or building a brand. And with the Salesforce Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud you have the technology to both attract new customers and build great brands, but if you’re feeding your Clouds with inconsistent and fragmented data, you can’t trust that you’ve made the right investments or decisions in the right places.

The combination of good data and technology can help to answer so many of your critical business questions. How do I target my audience without knowledge of previous successes? What does my ideal customer look like? What did they buy? Why did they buy it?

For better or worse, but mainly better, answering those questions with just your intuition and/or experience is pretty much out of the question. Without the tool to look at, for example, past campaigns and sales, and combining this view to see who your real market is, you’ll never be fully effective.

The same is true for sales. Without the right Leads, and the ability to interact with these Leads effectively, i.e., having the right contact details, company, knowing there’s only one version of that record, can make the discovery process a long and painful one.

But customer acquisition isn’t the only place where data plays a vital role.

When expanding to new markets or upselling and cross selling to existing customers, it’s the data you collect and report on that will help inform where you should focus your efforts.

Knowing what existing relationships you can leverage can make the difference between proactively offering solutions to your customers and losing them to a competitor. With Salesforce’s Analytics Cloud, this visibility that used to take weeks and months to view can now be put together in a matter of minutes. But how do you make strategic decisions on what market to tap into or what relationships to leverage, if you can only see one or two regions? What if you could truly visualize how you interact with your customers?  Or see beyond the hairball of interconnected business hierarchies and interactions to know definitively what subsidiary, household or distributor has what? Seeing the connections you have with your customers can help uncover the white space that you could tap into.

Naturally this entire process means nothing if you’re not actually retaining these customers. Again, this is another area that is fuelled by data. Knowing who your customers are, what issues they’re having and what they could want next could help ensure you are always providing your customer with the ultimate experience.

Last, but by no means least, there is cost reduction. Only by ensuring that all of this data is clean — and continuously cleansed — and your Cloud technologies are being fully utilized, can you then help ensure the maximum return on your Cloud investment.

Learn more about how Informatica Cloud can help you maximize your business outcomes through ensuring your data is trusted in the Cloud.

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Posted in Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management, Data First | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Does Your Sales Team Have What They Need to Succeed in 2015?

Like me, you probably just returned from an inspiring Sales Kick Off 2015 event. You’ve invested in talented people. You’ve trained them with the skills and knowledge they need to identify, qualify, validate, negotiate and close deals. You’ve invested in world-class applications, like Salesforce Sales Cloud, to empower your sales team to sell more effectively. But does your sales team have what they need to succeed in 2015?

Gartner predicts that as early as next year, companies will compete primarily on the customer experiences they deliver. So, every customer interaction counts. Knowing your customers is key to delivering great sales experiences.

If you’re not fueling Salesforce Sales Cloud with clean, consistent and connected customer information, your sales team may be at a disadvantage against the competition.
If you’re not fueling Salesforce Sales Cloud with clean, consistent and connected customer information, your sales team may be at a disadvantage against the competition.

But, inaccurate, inconsistent and disconnected customer information may be holding your sales team back from delivering great sales experiences. If you’re not fueling Salesforce Sales Cloud (or another Sales Force Automation (SFA) application) with clean, consistent and connected customer information, your sales team may be at a disadvantage against the competition.

To successfully compete and deliver great sales experiences more efficiently, your sales team needs a complete picture of their customers. They don’t want to pull information from multiple applications and then reconcile it in spreadsheets. They want direct access to the Total Customer Relationship across channels, touch points and products within their Salesforce Sales Cloud.

Watch this short video comparing a day-in-the-life of two sales reps competing for the same business. One has access to the Total Customer Relationship in Salesforce Sales Cloud, the other does not. Watch now: Salesforce.com with Clean, Consistent and Connected Customer Information.

Salesforce and Informatica Video

Is your sales team spending time creating spreadsheets by pulling together customer information from multiple applications and then reconciling it to understand the Total Customer Relationship across channels, touch points and products? If so, how much is it costing your business? Or is your sales team engaging with customers without understanding the Total Customer Relationship? How much is that costing your business?

Many innovative sales leaders are gaining a competitive edge by better leveraging their customer data to empower their sales teams to deliver great sales experiences. They are fueling business and analytical applications, like Salesforce Sales Cloud, with clean, consistent and connected customer information.  They are arming their sales teams with direct access to richer customer profiles, which includes the Total Customer Relationship across channels, touch points and products.

What measurable results have these sales leaders acheived? Merrill Lynch boosted sales productivity by 15%, resulting in $50M in annual impact. A $60B manufacturing company improved cross-sell and up-sell success by 5%. Logitech increased across channels: online, in their retail partner’s stores and through distribution partners.

This year, I believe more sales leaders will focus on leveraging their customer information for competitive advantage. This will help them shift from sales automation to sales optimization. What do you think?

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Posted in 5 Sales Plays, Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management, Customer Acquisition & Retention, Data Integration, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Intelligent Data Platform, Master Data Management, Operational Efficiency, SaaS, Total Customer Relationship | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Your Data Ready to Maximize Value from Your CRM Investments?

Is Your Data Ready to Maximize Value from Your CRM Investments?

Is Your Data Ready to Maximize Value from Your CRM Investments?

A friend of mine recently reached out to me about some advice on CRM solutions in the market.  Though I have not worked for a CRM vendor, I’ve had both direct experience working for companies that implemented such solutions to my current role interacting with large and small organizations regarding their data requirements to support ongoing application investments across industries. As we spoke, memories started to surface when he and I had worked on implementing Salesforce.com (SFDC) many years ago. Memories that we wanted to forget but important to call out given his new situation.

We worked together for a large mortgage lending software vendor selling loan origination solutions to brokers and small lenders mainly through email and snail mail based marketing.  He was responsible for Marketing Operations, and I ran Product Marketing. The company looked at Salesforce.com to help streamline our sales operations  and improve how we marketed and serviced our customers.  The existing CRM system was from the early 90’s and though it did what the company needed it to do, it was heavily customized, costly to operate, and served its life. It was time to upgrade, to help grow the business, improve business productivity, and enhance customer relationships.

After 90 days of rolling out SFDC, we ran into some old familiar problems across the business.  Sales reps continued to struggle in knowing who was a current customer using our software, marketing managers could not create quality mailing lists for prospecting purposes, and call center reps were not able to tell if the person on the other end was a customer or prospect. Everyone wondered why this was happening given we adopted the best CRM solution in the market.  You can imagine the heartburn and ulcers we all had after making such a huge investment in our new CRM solution.  C-Level executives were questioning our decisions and blaming the applications. The truth was, the issues were not related to SFDC but the data that we had migrated into the system and the lack proper governance and a capable information architecture to support the required data management integration between systems that caused these significant headaches.

During the implementation phase, IT imported our entire customer database of 200K+ unique customer entities from the old system to SFDC. Unfortunately, the mortgage industry was very transient and on average there were roughly 55K licenses mortgage brokers and lenders in the market and because no one ever validated the accuracy of who was really a customer vs. someone who had ever bought out product, we had a serious data quality issues including:

  • Trial users  who purchased evaluation copies of our products that expired were tagged as current customers
  • Duplicate records caused by manual data entry errors consisting of companies with similar but entered slightly differently with the same business address were tagged as unique customers
  • Subsidiaries of parent companies in different parts of the country that were tagged again as a unique customer.
  • Lastly, we imported the marketing contact database of prospects which were incorrectly accounted for as a customer in the new system

We also failed to integrate real-time purchasing data and information from our procurement systems for sales and support to handle customer requests. Instead of integrating that data in real-time with proper technology, IT had manually loaded these records at the end of the week via FTP resulting in incorrect billing information, statement processing, and a ton of complaints from customers through our call center. The price we paid for not paying attention to our data quality and integration requirements before we rolled out Salesforce.com was significant for a company of our size. For example:

  • Marketing got hit pretty hard. Each quarter we mailed evaluation copies of new products to our customer database of 200K, each costing the company $12 per to produce and mail. Total cost = $2.4M annually.  Because we had such bad data,  we would get 60% of our mailings returned because of invalid addresses or wrong contact information. The cost of bad data to marketing = $1.44M annually.
  • Next, Sales struggled miserably when trying to upgrade a customer by running cold call campaigns using the names in the database. As a result, sales productivity dropped by 40% and experienced over 35% sales turnover that year. Within a year of using SFDC, our head of sales got let go. Not good!
  • Customer support used SFDC to service customers, our average all times were 40 min per service ticket. We had believed that was “business as usual” until we surveyed what reps were spending their time each day and over 50% said it was dealing with billing issues caused by bad contact information in the CRM system.

At the end of our conversation, this was my advice to my friend:

  • Conduct a data quality audit of the systems that would interact with the CRM system. Audit how complete your critical master and reference data is including names, addresses, customer ID, etc.
  • Do this before you invest in a new CRM system. You may find that much of the challenges faced with your existing applications may be caused by the data gaps vs. the legacy application.
  • If they had a data governance program, involve them in the CRM initiative to ensure they understand what your requirements are and see how they can help.
  • However, if you do decide to modernize, collaborate and involve your IT teams, especially between your Application Development teams and your Enterprise Architects to ensure all of the best options are considered to handle your data sharing and migration needs.
  • Lastly, consult with your technology partners including your new CRM vendor, they may be working with solution providers to help address these data issues as you are probably not the only one in this situation.

Looking Ahead!

CRM systems have come a long way in today’s Big Data and Cloud Era. Many firms are adopting more flexible solutions offered through the Cloud like Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, and others. Regardless of how old or new, on premise or in the cloud, companies invest in CRM not to just serve their sales teams or increase marketing conversion rates, but to improve your business relationship with your customers. Period! It’s about ensuring you have data in these systems that is trustworthy, complete, up to date, and actionable to improve customer service and help drive sales of new products and services to increase wallet share. So how to do you maximize your business potential from these critical business applications?

Whether you are adopting your first CRM solution or upgrading an existing one, keep in mind that Customer Relationship Management is a business strategy, not just a software purchase. It’s also about having a sound and capable data management and governance strategy supported by people, processes, and technology to ensure you can:

  • Access and migrate data from old to new avoiding develop cost overruns and project delays.
  • Identify, detect, and distribute transactional and reference data from existing systems into your front line business application in real-time!
  • Manage data quality errors including duplicate records, invalid names and contact information due to proper data governance and proactive data quality monitoring and measurement during and after deployment
  • Govern and share authoritative master records of customer, contact, product, and other master data between systems in a trusted manner.

Will your data be ready for your new CRM investments?  To learn more:

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