CRM and BI – The perfect combination

Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.

Tim Berners-Lee

There is an ongoing debate on the relationship between Customer Relationship systems (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI) and which one can bring more value to businesses. Many companies consider that by owning CRM, they do not need BI since both systems share several similar functions – most notably in using historical data to identify critical trends. Although it may seem tempting to rely just on CRM, is this really the best choice?

The relationship between CRM and BI

To begin with, let’s explore more closely the connection and differences between CRM and BI solutions. CRMs are all about optimizing companies’ customer interactions. They can track each step of the customer journey with the end goal to improve the whole customer experience and build a better client-centric strategy. In this sense, CRM systems provide vital data that can help businesses acquire new customers and retain existing ones.

BI, on the other hand, can analyze large volumes of data and deliver insights, which can then serve as the basis for predictions of future trends, allowing businesses to prepare in advance for changes in their industry landscape. BI-generated reports can provide crucial information for various external factors, such as market conditions and competitor performance. Unlike CRM, which is strongly consumer-centric, BI does not focus on one specific part of the business and can be used across all business functions. Furthermore, most BI platforms come with many convenient visualization tools that can structure the data into comprehensive dashboards with various graphs and charts.

What are the limitations of using only CRM?

As one can see, there are many differences between the two systems. Nevertheless, many companies invest numerous resources in implementing a CRM solution, believing that they do not need another analytics system. After all, many CRM systems are positioned as capable of providing both CRM functions and analytic features. Although CRM is a useful tool by itself, with the right BI system working in conjunction with the CRM, organizations can really turn their data into actionable, profitable information. For instance, BI can extract the data from the CRM, as well as incorporate data from other systems, further transform it in order to turn it into insightful reports that will give a 360- degree business view to the managers.

Moreover, self-service is booming in BI, while in CRM systems, self-service is currently very limited to non-existent. Data liberation and providing access to all the information out there to users, who have non-development functions, has been trending in the BI field. People want to be able to create their own dashboards, visuals and draw conclusions from them. The old cumbersome approach of requirements gathering, developing, and delivering is less and less attractive to users. This is a big limitation of CRM, that can easily be overcome by pairing it with a BI system such as Qlik.

Additionally, CRMs often lack data collaboration abilities between teams and operations systems are often stained and/or slow when required to run reports. Furthermore, they do not provide many of the data visualization capabilities that BI solutions have. Therefore, depending only on CRM can cause companies to miss the bigger picture, new opportunities — and in some cases — bring additional risks.

CRM and BI – a winning combination

CRM and BI systems can not only work perfectly well together, but once well integrated, there are no limitations to how can they facilitate innovation. For instance, BI can help to provide a much richer profile of every customer, which will improve customer segmentation and targeting.

Complementing a CRM with real-time BI data can also be used for creating alerts and improving CRM response time and Fig.: Main differences between CRM and BI customer interaction. Besides, BI can help anticipate customer problems and act to prevent them by leveraging its predictive modeling and analysis capabilities. By choosing a BI platform that goes beyond CRM, companies will be empowered to dive deep into their data and make their business decisions swiftly.

“Bedding leader gains $10 million in new business and cuts over $1 million in reporting costs in two months of BI use.”

However, companies are often intimidated by the perceived time and resources that such integration may cost. Yet, if planned correctly, the integration can be a smooth process with an exponentially growing return of investment. Such is the case with one of the largest mattress manufacturers – Spring Air Company. After a series of mergers and acquisitions, they reached out to one of the leading providers of CRM solutions, who recommended Qlik as a complementary BI solution to achieve optimal results.

QlikView was implemented in less than two weeks and in less than a month of using, the company reported a full return of investment. By leveraging the power of QlikView across the enterprise, they acquired over $10 million in new business and reduced their estimated annual costs for business intelligence and management reporting by more than $1 million in just two months.

As the example shows, if companies plan the integration between their CRM and BI systems by setting clear goals, the impact on the overall customer experience and ultimately on financial performance can be dramatic and long-lasting.

How B EYE Can Help You

At B EYE, we empower business users by transforming the data deluge into meaningful insights. We have a proven track record in helping Fortune 500 companies discover and implement new opportunities and data-driven strategies. Relying on our long-standing experience and next-generation BI technologies, we can help you create the perfect synergy between your CRM and BI. Our team of professionals can help you structure your whole ETL process, create highly polished pixel-perfect reports and efficiently bring data to your people.