In the last article in this series, Nikolaus Kimla covered the history of integration between applications, and the serious programming and IT effort it has required. Now, in a major technological evolution, all that is changing.
Because technology is moving forward at such a frantic pace, and because there are so many people working within it, we’ve known for some time that the methods for interconnecting applications need to come up to speed in a major way. The “dots needed to be connected”—and for a company, that means data.
The Data Connection
I’ve known for many years how important such an evolution is. My first major software development project was for a banking compliance platform—and that platform was all about the aggregation of data. When a person comes into a bank to do business, the bank needs to know all about that person. The bottom line: is it safe to allow them to open an account here? Back then, a bank had to check their own records for any data on that person, and check some other lists maintained by larger institutions. Some countries maintained lists of people who were potentially financially questionable. Checking through all these lists meant a lot of research, and it was easy to miss important information. There was no central location where a bank could check all this data—and that is what my team and I successfully programmed. Today a bank can have a database updated daily containing all available compliance data.
My point is that today, everything is about data. In business, that data is your customer, because without the customer there is no business.
How many times has this happened to you? You visit a business or call one, and they ask for your personal information, your ID, your address, and other details. This isn’t so they can check data against their database—it’s because they’re collecting it all over again. They’re not only creating duplicates, but they’ve probably also got incorrect profiles with misspelled names or other incorrect information. With the enormous amount of money that companies spend on the collection of data, it well behooves them to make sure it’s correct.
This is especially crucial for personal information. Ordinarily, when you travel, you have one identity, and it’s unique. For example, I’m the only Nikolaus Kimla in the world. There are other factors about my identity that can change, such as my employment; I’ve worked for other companies, and been the CEO of some others, too—but there’s only one me.
In B2B business, the crucial information is the contact and account data. Everything around it is simply to support that main data, so it must be as accurate as possible.
People are constantly moving from one company to the next, so information about who holds what role within a client company must be kept current. It used to be that someone would come to work for a company and could potentially remain there for their whole life—but that doesn’t happen very much today.
So all of the current account and contact data points for a company must be brought together and kept current as well. These should include an overview of the company, the people who work there and their roles, the company’s products and services, marketing campaigns run to them and response, revenue data, and any other relevant information.
CRM is the Backbone
Today, CRM isn’t “just another application.” Although it has been treated that way by companies for decades, enterprises now need to become wise to the fact that CRM is actually their core infrastructure. It is the hub—you might even say it’s the operating system of the company.
The decision to purchase (or subscribe to) CRM is not a decision that should be shoved off on the IT department along with a laundry list of other priorities. Such a decision should not be made by anyone other than top management.
CRM is at the heart of the most important data a company gathers—that account and contact data. It’s where all other application should feed.
Effortless Data Feed
So how you set it up so that all data feeds effortlessly into CRM? As we covered in the last article, before now it hasn’t really been possible. Application integration required extensive IT and developer time. But today, the General Automation Platform makes effortless interconnection possible.
How does this tie with CRM? Because at Pipeliner, we’ve adopted a new technology called General Automation Platform to create the Pipeliner Automation Hub. This means everything properly interconnected—all of your applications interconnected with Pipeliner CRM.
No More “Silos”
For many years data existed in isolated silos throughout a company. The interesting thing was that not only was some data not shared, but some people actually sat on it and didn’t make it available quite deliberately, seeming to derive power from doing so (Nowadays we’re seeing this kind of thing with various government departments and individuals withholding data from the DOJ and FBI, but that’s a whole other story). In any case, with all data being freely interchanged, we’d definitely have a better overview throughout an enterprise.
Now we can have such a holistic view, with CRM being the center and the backbone. What kinds of apps should effortlessly connect with CRM? Examples:
- Support, so we can see right in CRM where the support tickets are and their status.
- ERP, so we can see all invoicing data, any inventory issues that might prevent orders from being filled, and other items from ERP.
- Marketing campaigns and their open rates—the flows and responses.
Best of Breed—Automatically
The Pipeliner Automation Hub takes us back to the original concept of Software as a Service (SaaS)—allowing a company to take advantage of best-of-breed technology in every aspect of business, as opposed to one overall general business application that does everything in a mediocre way.
We could draw an analogy of building a house. You could employ a couple of “jack of all trade” contractors that do everything: paint, carpentry, finishing, plumbing, and electrical. But if you’re honest with yourself and actually want a great house when all is said and done, you need the best in each area. You need a master electrician for all the latest in wiring, cabling, dimmers, LEDs and endless other details. The same would go for finish carpentry—how should kitchen cabinets best be put in, and what woods would be best? Or painting—it’s definitely not just about color, but technique. Your “jack of all trades” types aren’t going to come near such expertise. You can certainly hire a general contractor to oversee it all—most people do. But that general contractor, if they’re worth their considerable fee, will hire all the best specialists in each particular area.
The “general contractor” is exactly the function of the Pipeliner Automation Platform. You get to keep all the best-of-breed applications you’ve come to count on—and they all work together with Pipeliner CRM as the hub.
The future has arrived—we can now have a tremendous, powerful flow of data throughout all the critical applications in a company. This flow can even be automated. It’s a place we’ve always dreamed of, and we’re arriving there faster than we would believe.