Phil Ryan, Ergo’s CRM solutions manager, is still seeing a low level of maturity in the Irish market around analytics, with many companies relying on spreadsheets or clunky management information systems that are very static and produce reports after the fact. “There’s no agility in what they do. All they can do when a quarter’s gone is learn a lesson from it and try and make some adjustments that might impact the next quarter,” he said.
Ryan believes good intelligence starts with quality data. The best way to get it is by understanding what your analytics process needs to be and embedding it in your systems. With Ergo this is usually around Microsoft CRM, now part of the Dynamics 365 platform. “It’s all about capturing metrics that can feed your BI capabilities; otherwise you’re tapping into operational systems like ERP that will only tell you things that have happened, not things that are happening,” he said.
ERP will show lagging indicators, such as audits and shipments that are easy to measure but hard to improve. But combine that with CRM and workflow management, from lead and opportunity through to order and fulfilment, and you can start to understand and influence the process.
“You might see that if you have ten leads you’ll get one opportunity, for example. That one opportunity might turn into a service for a particular category of customer. It can help you identify an aspect of business development that might be worth investing in,” he explained. “There’s an organisational cost as well as a technology cost and discipline is needed because you can’t operate in a loose, unmanaged way.”
Part of the organisational impact will be about defining roles and responsibilities, gaining a better understanding of how sales people spend their time, for example. “Not because you want to punish them, but to help them be more effective by understanding the outcomes of what they do. Basically it’s systemising operations,” he said.
Ryan talks about Irish companies being at different levels of maturity. Some are at the point of moving on from making basic information available, with nice pie charts and other visuals, to more sophisticated predictive modelling. “You want to know the next best action for a sales person on a particular opportunity or identify if there's a gap in the sales operation,” he said. “Raw data becomes a recommendation which you can put into an actionable form in front of the sales person. So the CRM system is feeding back directly into what they do.”
Ergo is starting to see a willingness to innovate with predictive analytics from unexpected sectors. “We have a retail client that’s very focused on margins and doesn’t like to spend on IT. But even they see the unique selling point of analytics as a way to get ahead of their competition. We're doing a pilot with them at the moment which is all about creating a sales feedback loop,” said Ryan.
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