Data integration provides businesses with high-quality data that helps them run better and grow faster. Powerful stuff? Yes, but powerful doesn’t have to mean complicated. The power of data integration lies in its simplicity.
Why data integration matters
Businesses rely on technology to make everything work. CRM systems like Salesforce help manage customer relationships, ERPs like Microsoft Dynamics help manage processes. These systems are fantastic, and powerful, in their own right and are an essential part of any growing business.
But it’s impossible to realise the full power of the data individual systems provide if they’re not integrated with each other. Businesses gather data in lots of different ways, every single day. In fact, every time a business interacts with a customer, data is generated. Sales, lead generation, ordering, invoicing, complaints handling…all these processes lead to the gathering of data.
With separate systems that haven’t been integrated, a business will have multiple pieces of data on each customer stored in different places. This usually means that different teams or staff members have access to different segments of data.
Often, a business will realise that they need more integration and try to provide it by manually copying data between systems. The problem with this approach is that mistakes are made in the copying and one problem becomes two. Not only is the data not integrated, it’s unreliable too.
This is particularly common in businesses that have grown fast from small beginnings. An ad-hoc approach might work for a very small business, but with expansion comes a need for a consistent approach. And that means integration.
Simple data integration
Data integration has the power to make doing business simpler. Data integration means the automated sharing of data between systems so that all the information you could possibly want about a particular customer is there, in one place, whenever you need it. You stop wasting time transferring data between systems and dealing with errors. You stop having to search around for the data you need.
Perhaps you’re thinking – sounds great, but surely it can’t be simple? It can.
The technical mechanics of data integration can be complex, for sure. But with the right people on your side, you won’t need to worry about them. There are data integration services out there that can provide you with an easy-to-use integration that will work for your business without you having to do any programming or gain any special knowledge.
They’ll usually provide a range of options so you can figure out the best one for your business. An out-of-the-box integration is often all you’ll need, but there are custom and hybrid options too. Take a look at the options provided by Rapidi, for example.
What data integration looks like
It can be difficult to visualise what difference data integration will make to your business in practical terms. So, let’s look at how data integration can help your business in three areas: relationships, resources and innovation.
Can you imagine running your business now without a CRM of any kind? It would be challenging. A CRM means you have quality information about each customer, the ability to follow-up and meet individual needs. All this could be possible without a CRM, but it certainly wouldn’t be easy or consistent.
Data integration simply extends the benefits of the CRM and makes them even more powerful. It means that you can find out everything you could possibly want to know about each customer in a few seconds, including the things your CRM can’t tell you.
For example, you can see each customer’s order history, so your sales team will know what they usually order at any particular time of year. That not only means they can proactively approach them at the right time, they can ask your operations team to make sure you have the stock or resources you need. You’ll be able to build a deeper, stronger, more individual relationship with each client as you get to know them better.
Data integration also benefits your internal relationships. Where different teams have different information, they also have different perspectives. Data integration means that everyone is working from the same place. That’s vital for trust and harmony across the business.
Data integration saves time, money and energy. We’ve already talked about how it eliminates the need for time-consuming and error-prone manual integration It also means that you have all the information you need at your fingertips at any time, and so do your team. It means less time spent chasing people for information too.
Innovation doesn’t happen without good data. You might have all the ideas in the world, but unless you have the data you need to show you where to take them, they won’t translate into innovation.
With easily accessible, reliable data just a few clicks away, you have the platform you need to go out and grow your business. We’re not saying that data integration alone will supercharge you to the top or allow you to realise new ideas. What we are saying is that without it, you won’t stand a chance.
Data integration gives you real-time information that you can trust. You can customise it so it delivers the information that’s most valuable to your business. And it should be scalable, so as you continue to grow, you can adjust your integration approach to meet your changing needs and goals.
Data integration works. If you’re not already doing it, why not?