By George Gallegos, CEO of Jitterbit (www.jitterbit.com)
CRM applications such as Salesforce are critical to the success of any enterprise organization. Using Salesforce, organizations can quickly and easily store, aggregate, and retrieve customer data critical to the success of the business. With better organization, greater accessibility, and improved communication across your marketing, sales and support departments, Salesforce can empower your organization to track and manage the entire lifecycle of your customers.
However, simply collecting and storing your customer data does not mean you will realize the true value of your investment in Salesforce. Without integrating Salesforce with your other cloud and on-premise applications and business processes, your customer data will live in a silo, gated off from the rest of your critical business data. Without integration, you only have one view of your customer because you are limited to data within a single system, rather than the data that lives across your organization.
In the past, CRM systems lived on-premise and were owned and managed by the IT department. Line of business users depended on IT to not only manage and run their CRM applications but also handle the integration of these applications with their back office systems.
Software as a Service (SaaS), and Salesforce, has changed this dynamic. Businesses that look to adopt Salesforce do so because they see the opportunity to solve their business challenges without any of the familiar IT bottlenecks of on-premise software deployments. Salesforce is incredibly simple to adopt; enter some credentials and you’re off to the races. This user-friendly try-and-buy process has enabled Sales and Marketing to setup, implement, operate, and administer their own CRM applications with minimal dependence on IT.
Organizations that have adopted Salesforce have realized a number of immediate benefits. They have saved money by avoiding upfront implementation costs, reduced time to deployment, and increased their business agility. And they have often done all of this using a business resource.
Unfortunately, these benefits can be short-lived without integrating Salesforce with the rest of your enterprise. Because it is the line of business adopting Salesforce, integration is usually a second thought, or worse, not considered until after Salesforce has become the CRM of choice. Salesforce gives the line of business the ability to be its own Salesforce administrator, but doesn’t provide the same easy path to integration.
When you make Salesforce your CRM solution, it is critical that it play a strategic role within the context of your business processes. Running Salesforce in a silo should be viewed as an unacceptable hindrance to an efficient, process-driven organization. While your sales staff may enjoy the immediate benefits of Salesforce, without integration the rest of your organization will lack key visibility about these sales activities. For example, when an opportunity in Salesforce moves to “Closed-Won”, a number of business processes need to be triggered. Accounting, support, implementation, and even marketing teams all need to understand the information about this new customer. Without integration, the account and contact data, order status, products, support, and other information won’t be synchronized or up to date. Instead, this information ends up being shared manually via data re-entry and email. At best this process requires more resources; at worst it creates data quality issues that hamper your business and put you at a significant competitive disadvantage.
Integrating Salesforce with your other cloud and on-premise applications will ensure that you not only realize a true return on your investment, but also that you boost the value of every system you connect to it. You will eliminate manual data entry, decreasing errors and inaccuracies. More importantly, integration enables seamless business processes that share a “single version of the truth”, while allowing your employees to continue using their applications of choice. All of these benefits have a direct impact on quality of service and the operational costs associated with acquiring and managing your customers.
Efficient customer data management utilizes more than just the information in Salesforce; it includes production information, order fulfillment information, service history, contractual information, competitive information, and much more. Your customer data is your most important asset, treat it as such — make Salesforce integration a priority!
George Gallegos brings more than 20 years of software leadership experience and was most recently a founding member of C3, a Tom Siebel venture focused on energy and carbon management. Previously, Gallegos was vice president of worldwide sales at Cast Iron Systems. Prior to Cast Iron, Gallegos was a regional vice president at Oracle Corp., focusing on CRM applications for Oracle’s top 250 accounts, and where he received the coveted Vice President of The Year Award.