Category Archives: SaaS
Back in 2004, we saw the rapid growth of SaaS providers such as Salesforce.com. However, there was typically no consistent data integration strategy to go along with the use of SaaS. In many instances, SaaS-delivered applications became the new data silos in the enterprise, silos that lacked a sound integration plan and integration technology.
10 years later, we’ve gotten to a point where we have the ability to solve problems using SaaS and data integration problems around the use of SaaS. However, we typically lack the knowledge and understanding of how to effectively use data integration technology within an enterprise to integrate SaaS problem domains.
Lawson looks at both sides of the SaaS integration argument. “Surveys certainly show that integration is less of a concern for SaaS than in the early days, when nearly 88 percent of SaaS companies said integration concerns would slow down adoption and more than 88 percent said it’s an important or extremely important factor in winning new customers.”
Again, while we’ve certainly gotten better at integration, we’re nowhere near being out of the woods. “A Dimensional Research survey of 350 IT executives showed that 67 percent cited data integration problems as a challenge with SaaS business applications. And as with traditional systems, integration can add hidden costs to your project if you ignore it.”
As I’ve stated many times in this blog, integration requires a bit of planning and the use of solid technology. While this does require some extra effort and money, the return on the value of this work is huge.
SaaS integration requires that you take a bit of a different approach than traditional enterprise integration. SaaS systems typically place your data behind well-defined APIs that can be accessed directly or through a data integration technology. While the information can be consumed by anything that can invoke an API, enterprises still have to deal with structure and content differences, and that’s typically best handled using the right data integration technology.
Other things to consider, things that are again often overlooked, is the need for both data governance and data security around your SaaS integration solution. There should be a centralized control mechanism to support the proper management and security of the data, as well as a mechanism to deal with data quality issues that often emerge when consuming data from any cloud computing services.
The reality is that SaaS is here to stay. Even enterprise software players that put off the move to SaaS-delivered systems, are not standing up SaaS offerings. The economics around the use of SaaS are just way to compelling. However, as SaaS-delivered systems become more common place, so will the emergence of new silos. This will not be an issue, if you leverage the right SaaS integration approach and technology. What will your approach be?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
- Download Salesforce Integration for Dummies
- Download a new Whitepaper on how to Maximize Integration ROI with a Hybrid Approach
- Consolidating Multiple Salesforce Orgs: A Best Practice Guide
- Sign up for a 30 Day Trial of Informatica Cloud Integration
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Happy Holidays, Happy HoliData
In case you have missed our #HappyHoliData series on Twitter and LinkedIn, I decided to provide a short summary of best practices which are unleashing information potential. Simply scroll and click on the case study which is relevant for you and your business. The series touches on different industries and use cases. But all have one thing in common: All consider information quality as key value to their business to deliver the right services or products to the right customer.
Thanks a lot to all my great teammates, who made this series happen.
Happy Holidays, Happy HoliData.
The Informatica Cloud team has been busy updating connectivity to Hadoop using the Cloud Connector SDK. Updated connectors are available now for Cloudera and Hortonworks and new connectivity has been added for MapR, Pivotal HD and Amazon EMR (Elastic Map Reduce).
Informatica Cloud’s Hadoop connectivity brings a new level of ease of use to Hadoop data loading and integration. Informatica Cloud provides a quick way to load data from popular on premise data sources and apps such as SAP and Oracle E-Business, as well as SaaS apps, such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite, and Workday, into Hadoop clusters for pilots and POCs. Less technical users are empowered to contribute to enterprise data lakes through the easy-to-use Informatica Cloud web user interface.
Informatica Cloud’s rich connectivity to a multitude of SaaS apps can now be leveraged with Hadoop. Data from SaaS apps for CRM, ERP and other lines of business are becoming increasingly important to enterprises. Bringing this data into Hadoop for analytics is now easier than ever.
Users of Amazon Web Services (AWS) can leverage Informatica Cloud to load data from SaaS apps and on premise sources into EMR directly. Combined with connectivity to Amazon Redshift, Informatica Cloud can be used to move data into EMR for processing and then onto Redshift for analytics.
Self service data loading and basic integration can be done by less technical users through Informatica Cloud’s drag and drop web-based user interface. This enables more of the team to contribute to and collaborate on data lakes without having to learn Hadoop.
Bringing the cloud and Big Data together to put the potential of data to work – that’s the power of Informatica in action.
Free trials of the Informatica Cloud Connector for Hadoop are available here: http://www.informaticacloud.com/connectivity/hadoop-connector.html
Now in its third year (2012, 2013), The State of Salesforce Annual Review continues to be the most comprehensive report on the Salesforce ecosystem. Based on the data from over 1,000 global Salesforce users, this report highlights how companies are using the Salesforce platform, where resources are being allocated, and where industry hype meets reality. Over the past three years, the report has evolved much like the technology, shifting and transforming to address recent advancements, and well as tracking longitudinal trends in the space.
We’ve found that key integration partners like Informatica Cloud continue to grow in importance within the Salesforce ecosystem. Beyond the core platform offerings from Salesforce, third-party apps and integration technologies have received considerable attention as companies look to extend the value of their initial investments and unite systems. The need to sync multiple platforms and applications is an emerging need in the Salesforce ecosystem—which will be highlighted in the 2014 report.
As Salesforce usage expands, so does our approach to survey execution. In line with this evolution, here’s what we’ve learned over the last three years from data collection:
Functions, Departments Make a Difference
Sales, Marketing, IT, and Service all have their own needs and pain points. As Salesforce moves quickly across the enterprise, we want to recognize the values, priorities, and investments by each department. Not only are the primary clouds for each function at different stages of maturity, but the ways in which each department uses their cloud are unique. We anticipate discovery of how enterprises are collaborating across functions and clouds.
Focus on Region
As our international data set continues to grow we are investing in regionalized reports for the US, UK, France, and Australia. While we saw indications of differences between each region in last year’s survey, they were not statistically significant.
Customer Engagement is a Top Priority
Everyone agrees that customer engagement is important, but what are companies actually doing about it? A section on predictive analytics and questions about engagement specific to departments has been included in this year’s survey. We suspect that the recent trend of companies empowering employees with a combination of data and mobile will be validated in the survey results.
Variation Across Industries
As an added bonus, we will build a report targeting specific insights from the Financial Services industry.
We Need Your Help
Our dataset depends on input from Salesforce users spanning all functions, roles, industries, and regions. Every response matters. Please take 15 minutes to share your Salesforce experiences, and you will receive a personalized report, comparing your responses to the aggregate survey results.
Salesforce.com is one of the most widely used cloud applications across every industry. Initially, Salesforce gained dominance from mid-market customers due to the agility and ease of deployment that the SaaS approach delivered. A cloud-based CRM system enabled SMB companies to easily automate sales processes that recorded customer interactions during the sales cycle and scale without costly infrastructure to maintain. This resulted in faster growth, thereby showing rapid ROI of a Salesforce deployment in most cases.
The Eye of the Enterprise
When larger enterprises saw the rapid growth that mid-market players had achieved, they realized that Salesforce was a unique technology enabler capable of helping their businesses to also speed time to market and scale more effectively. In most enterpises, the Salesforce deployments were driven by line-of-business units such as Sales and Customer Service, with varying degrees of coordination with central IT groups – in fact, most initial deployments of Salesforce orgs were done fairly autonomously from central IT.
With Great Growth Comes Greater Integration Challenges
When these business units needed to engage with each other to run cross functional tasks, the lack of a single customer view across the siloed Salesforce instances became a problem. Each individual Salesforce org had its own version of the truth and it was impossible to locate where in the sales cycle each customer was in respect to each business unit. As a consequence, cross-selling and upselling became very difficult. In short, the very application that was a key technology enabler for growth was now posing challenges to meet business objectives.
Scaling for Growth with Custom Apps
While many companies use the pre-packaged functionality in Salesforce, ISVs have also begun building custom apps using the Force.com platform due to its extensibility and rapid customization features. By using Salesforce to build native applications from the ground up, they could design innovative user interfaces that expose powerful functionality to end users. However, to truly add value, it was not just the user interface that was important, but also the back-end of the technology stack. This was especially evident when it came to aggregating data from several sources, and surfacing them in the custom Force.com apps.
On April 23rd at 10am PDT, you’ll hear how two CIOs from two different companies tackled the above integration challenges with Salesforce: Rising Star finalist of the 2013 Silicon Valley Business Journal CIO Awards, Eric Johnson of Informatica, and Computerworld’s 2014 Premier 100 IT Leaders, Derald Sue of InsideTrack.
SaaS companies are growing rapidly and becoming the top priority for most CIOs. With such high growth expectations, many SaaS vendors are investing in sales and marketing to acquire new customers even if it means having a negative net profit margin as a result. Moreover, with the pressure to grow rapidly, there is an increased urgency to ensure that the Average Sales Price (ASP) of every transaction increases in order to meet revenue targets.
The nature of the cloud allows these SaaS companies to release new features every few months, which sales reps can then promote to new customers. When new functionalities are not used nor understood, customers often feel that they have overpaid for a SaaS product. In such cases, customers usually downgrade to a lower-priced edition or worse, leave the vendor entirely. To make up for this loss, the sales representatives must work harder to acquire new leads, which results in less attention for existing customers. Preventing customer churn is very important. The Cost to Acquire a Customer (CAC) for upsells is 19% of the CAC to acquire new customer dollars. In comparison, the CAC to renew existing customers is only 15% of the CAC to acquire new customer dollars.
Accurate customer usage data helps determine which features customers use and which are under utilized. Gathering this data can help pinpoint high-value features that are not used, especially for customers that have recently upgraded to a higher edition. The process of collecting this data involves several touch points – from recording clicks within the app to analyzing the open rate of entire modules. This is where embedded cloud integration comes into play.
Embedding integration within a SaaS application allows vendors to gain operational insights into each aspect of how their app is being used. With this data, vendors are able to provide feedback to product management in regards to further improvements. Additionally, embedding integration can alert the customer success management team of potential churn, thereby allowing them to implement preventative measures.
To learn more about how a specialized analytics environment can be set up for SaaS apps, join Informatica and Gainsight on April 9th at 10am PDT for an informational webinar Powering Customer Analytics with Embedded Cloud Integration.
Within most organizations today, it is not a question of if SaaS applications should be deployed, but how quickly. The era of having to justify adoption of SaaS applications is long over, and the focus has shifted towards a deciding which SaaS applications to deploy, in which departments, and in what timeframes. With this view in mind, let us explore the typical journey that most companies take when deciding which SaaS applications to implement first.
Related: Learn more about customer facing processes vs. customer fulfillment processes in the March 25th webinar ‘Accelerate Business Velocity with NetSuite and Salesforce Integration’
Customer Facing Processes
The main impetus behind switching to a SaaS application is because of the agility the cloud brings. Customizations that normally take weeks to get implemented take minutes or days, and can be performed by employees that do not possess an in-depth knowledge of the technical infrastructure of the SaaS system. With that being said, it is customer-facing processes that require application customizations almost immediately because optimizing these processes results in bringing in revenue quickly into the company, thereby enabling CIOs to show rapid ROI of a SaaS application.
It is no wonder that front-office applications such as Salesforce have become one of the largest SaaS vendors out there today. The entire process of converting a lead to a closed opportunity has several steps in between, and may require multiple workflows in parallel. But the journey doesn’t stop there. To keep customers satisfied and retain them, their product needs to be fulfilled, and this is where customer fulfillment processes come into play.
Customer Fulfillment Processes
Once an opportunity has been closed, the process of getting the product to the customer begins. Traditionally, this role has been done by large-scale on-premise ERP vendors, but leading cloud ERP companies such as NetSuite are showing how the complex task of fulfilling orders and realizing revenue can be done faster. Processes such as applying category-specific price and quantity discounts, special tax regulations involving several regions and nations, and fulfillment through multiple delivery options all have several moving parts. Moreover, the task of invoicing the customer, collecting payment, and recording numerous financial transactions is an entire sub-process in of itself and the only way it can be streamlined is through cloud ERP applications.
Optimizing the Entire Lead-to-Cash Process with Cloud Integration
When looking at customer-facing and customer-fulfillment processes together, it is very clear that SaaS apps in both categories need to work hand-in-hand to ensure that an organization’s customers are satisfied, and continue to engage in repeat business. This is why organizations that are starting the rollout of front-office SaaS applications also need to be thinking about rolling out back-office ERP SaaS applications along with a cloud integration solution to tie it all together. In the March 25th webinar, ‘Accelerate Business Velocity with NetSuite and Salesforce Integration’, we’ll talk about a blueprint for integrating both these types of apps together and how the Australian Institute of Management deployed these apps as part of a multi-million dollar IT transformation project.
I’m astounded by the incredible turnout and response to MDM Day and other MDM-related events at Informatica World, and again, I see this as a sign of MDM’s importance in the business world. Attendees told their stories, swapped best-practices, and shared their visions of using MDM to improve up-sell, cross-sell, and other important business metrics. But now let’s keep the momentum going. Here I want to tell you about three free webinars that will help you to dive more deeply into MDM, and take your initiatives to the next level. The first is for any large organization, and the other two are for pharmaceutical companies. (more…)