Thursday, October 7, 2010

Data versus Information and Empowering your People


I work primarily in helping businesses solve business problems so they can do better business.  Better business might be lower expenses, increase income, enhance customer and employee satisfaction [and thus retention], increase value for investors, and much more.

Since I focus primarily on xRM “Anything Relationship Management” solutions, I am very frequently asked questions that basically boil down to: “What’s the primary goal of a good CRM/xRM system?”

Let’s set that aside for a quick side trip…

Data, data everywhere…

Additionally, as I’m working with these exact same customers, one of the primary problems I encounter just about everywhere is that everyone has many, many disparate, disjointed, disconnected silos of data EVERYWHERE in their enterprise. Thus, a huge portion of the work we do is in applicably integrating these systems into our xRM solutions and turning all of that systems data into business information.

What’s the difference?

Well, data is for machines and databases.  Information is for PEOPLE.  And the problem is, the machines have the data, but the people do not have the information. So, somehow, we must turn all that data into business information.

In this discussion, I’m not talking about Data Warehouses (which are still just more data in more machines) nor about huge Business Intelligence projects (which start to perform the data-to-information transformation).  What I’m talking about is at a much more manageable scale that can have immediate benefits with a much smaller investment.

I’m talking about leveraging Dynamics CRM as the vehicle for getting the data out of the enterprise systems and getting it directly into the hands of the business users.

I call this:  Get business information into the hands of the people who need it, when they need it, where they need it.

There are four basic ways we can do this:

  • Direct Presentation (UI Mashup of external UIs within Dynamics CRM)
  • Direct Data Extraction (Real-time data extraction [like from a web service call] and display within Dynamics CRM)
  • One-way data integration (copying data or rollups into Dynamics CRM)
  • Two-way data integration (copying data both into and out of Dynamics CRM from/to external systems)

I’ll drill down more in depth on these in another blog.

When you combine turning all of that raw data into business information, and then using all of Dynamics CRM’s interfaces, especially the native Microsoft Outlook integration and Mobile Device presentation, you have an incredible vehicle for empowering your key business people to do their jobs faster and smarter; which will almost always have a positive effect on your bottom line.

So, to answer our first question: What do I see as one of the primary goals of any CRM or xRM solution?

Get business information into the hands of the people who need it, when they need it, where they need it.

At the very least, it’s a wonderful place to start…

- One is pleased to be of service


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