You may have heard the quip that data is the ‘new currency’ that the most successful businesses of today operate in.
The unprecedented number of new data capture points has caused an exponential growth in new data. A shift has happened, whereby it is not the lack of data that hinders organisations from becoming data-driven, but the way it is managed and applied. Simply put, organisations have more data than knowledge about what to do with it.
Clearly, data will enable your business to get ahead, but only if you leverage at the right time and in the right manner. The data-driven end goal, however, cannot be reached unless data is put into the correct hands or injected into the correct business processes. A data-rich organisation is not a data-driven organisation, if a disconnect exists between business users and the data.
Being ‘data-driven’ seems a vague goal, however, a data-driven organisation can be broken down into 5 qualities: data availability, accessibility, quality, visualisation, and user enablement. Data speaks, but it needs a voice. There are a number of ways Salesforce gives your data a ‘voice’, a platform to express itself in a way that business users can understand. This post will address how each one can be supported by Salesforce.
Salesforce has been cloud-native since it’s inception, said to be ‘born in the cloud’. This very fact that your company data stored in Salesforce can be accessed from any location (providing the user has an internet connection and login credentials), already increases the availability of data, on demand, around your organisation.
A state-of-the-art CRM is not enough – it needs to be connected to the rest of your technology. The Salesforce Platform has an open API, which makes integrations between systems within your IT system architecture possible. The successful businesses of today operate with no siloes in their data flows. There is are other options to explore aside from integrations. The Salesforce AppExchange is a marketplace for a range of enterprise tools that ‘plug-in-and-play’ to Salesforce. Data from these systems will be readily available within the core CRM, for a guaranteed ‘single view’ when it comes to reporting.
Accessibility differs from availability. Just because the data is present (available), doesn’t automatically mean that someone should be able to interact with it (accessible).
Luckily, Salesforce permissions are highly flexible, and can be very specific for each user. How a user can interact with a CRM record (create, read, edit, delete) is set by their profile, a grouping of users with the same permissions. Data that should remain untouched from manipulation can be read-only, but users still benefit from the data intelligence. Salesforce also offers other features to help manage data accessibility, such as Role Hierarchies and Permission Sets.
However, there is incredible untapped potential when opting for an open approach to data. Many organisations keep data locked away simply because that’s the way it’s always been done. Consider how your policy to data accessibility would engage, or exclude, people across the business – something that will become apparent by the end of this post.
Reliability is essential for an organisation to be driven by data confidently. You would be foolish to put faith into data’s actionable insights but neglect data quality – as the old phrase goes: ‘garbage in, garbage out’. Incorrect data (which we will revisit later) is only scratching the surface when it comes to data quality woes.
Incompatible data is a force to be reckoned with, where data is not in an acceptable format. Incompatibility can happen from one system to another, or by user input. Avoiding incompatibility across systems is where Salesforce’s ‘multi-cloud’ product on one platform is very valuable, in that the chance of data being ‘thrown back’ is reduced significantly. To keep users on the straight and narrow, Salesforce allows you to define validation rules at the field level.
Inconsistent data can also creep in, where a field is up for interpretation by users, leading to skewed data from one department to another. We can use ‘revenue’ as an example, which has a whole range of meanings depending on which department you work for. Bring in other variables, such as currency, and you have no clear definition of a key metric. At least by using Salesforce, every team will be relating to the same fields and field definitions. Other celebrated Salesforce features, such as Currency Management, can be a blessing for data quality.
Salesforce CRM is praised for its reporting functionality that comes as standard with every license edition. Reporting in Salesforce is highly flexible (in terms of what data to include or exclude), and user-friendly (‘drag-and-drop’ building interface). Dashboards are the visualisation of reports, allowing users to quickly see key figures and trends – giving data that ‘voice’ mentioned in the opening.
Salesforce have taken data visualisation one step further. Einstein Discovery is an AI-powered business data insights platform, that applies machine learning to data modeling. This tool goes beyond traditional analytics, by taking large data sets and making intelligent predictions. It opens up predictive analytics, as users don’t need to be data scientists in order to use the tool; in fact, the next best action is presented back to a business user in a number of formats: visually (graphs), the code format (R-Code) or even as an audio narration!
Data can be a tough subject to tackle, especially if part of a bigger transformation your company is undergoing. The environment is fertile for skepticism and mistrust to grow, but you need to weed these out early on with inclusiveness.
Humans are hard-wired to self-interest, even in organisations with the strongest cross-team collaboration. Once users are able to visually see their performance, they will be more inclined to invest their time into data, and further advocate data within your organisation. Enablement will allow users to manage their own data-driven day-to-day, and also to mitigate users inputting ‘dummy’ data in order to skirt validation rules and click ‘save’ as fast as possible.
Luckily, Salesforce is bursting at the seams with free enablement, the most highly recommended for business users is Trailhead. This interactive learning platform breaks training into manageable pieces, and uses gamification to spur on participants. For more specific training for users on how to access data and interpret it within Salesforce, your consulting partner will be aware of your business’ specific and be eager to help out.
Data-driven organisations are the ones that enjoy the greatest successes because they are proactive to changing trends and meeting customer needs – all powered by data insights. Becoming ‘data-driven’ can be distilled down into the 5 qualities discussed in this post. Most importantly, there should be no disconnect between the data and the processes and users it exists to serve. Salesforce is renowned for closing the gap effectively, with its ‘platform’ mentality, powerful visualisation tools, and engaging user interface – which you should leverage as a robust, future-proof platform for the sake of your business.
Whichever stage you are at in your Salesforce journey, we, at EMPAUA, are interested in hearing about your business as you start your business transformation. As a gold Salesforce Implementation Partner, we have worked closely with our hypergrowth customers to ensure they are setup to scale with the Salesforce platform. With 50 employees based in offices across London, Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid & Zurich, we are proud of our diverse Salesforce knowledge and experience.
Feature Image Source: Stephen Dawson, unsplash.com