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How Can BI on the Cloud Help Enterprises Make More Sense out of CRM Data?

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Soumadeep Sen: Assuming that, in the cloud, organizations can avail both the services (CRM as well as BI/Operational BI), how can BI on the cloud help enterprises make more sense out of CRM data?

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  • Just reading the book "The FaceBook Era" by Clara Shih. Shih manages the FaceBook interface products from Salesforce.com. Before reading this book, I also thought what you could get for Business from FaceBook. Clara actually makes a lot of sense in that instead of Cold Calling from a list of names you load into SalesForce.com, you actually get introduceed to the same person from some connection from FaceBook. In the long run it may dilute the value of these kinds of intros if people feel that their connections have been cheapened but it is already happening! It may not be exactly CRM but more like Prospect Relationship Management. The point is that the cloud is already enabling these kinds of cross over applications, even as we speak!

  • Many companies use multi-tiered distribution channels, which means some of the most important customer and sales data lies outside the organization. Cloud-based BI or SaaS BI is a great vehicle for combining both internal CRM data as well as relevant information from channel partners, providing a more direct line of sight through to end-customers. This is very useful for optimizing channel mix and enhancing the sales effectiveness through all channels. Of course Cloud or SaaS BI has all the advantages that have made SaaS CRM so popular - low cost, low risk, and rapid deployment.

  • CRM data analytics will be the "killer app" of Cloud BI for three reasons: Data is in the cloud already (SFDC, Eloqua, Marketo...), the audience is very broad and non-technical (SaM and not CxO) and the velocity of the change is high (data and metadata change daily and hourly). Cloud BI is therefore the only way how we can combine all of the CRM data sources and deliver it to the right audience timely and cost effectively.

  • We've been using Tableau for on-demand web-based BI dashboards for our clients for about a year now. We're currently pulling in data from SFDC, Eloqua and web analytics software like Google Analytics, Omniture or Webtrends. It's a great way to get meaningful information to the right audience, while also giving them the flexibility to interact with the data and answer their own questions.

  • Most of the replies, so far, have focused on the ability to mash-up key data that is external to the CRM system with the CRM-based customer and prospect data, so that a superior total customer view results. This is surely valuable, but can be accomplished with a modern, web-based BI tool located on-premise or in the cloud (just the same).

    I think the most valuable aspect of cloud-based BI, with regard to CRM data, is the fact that it SHOULD be even easier to get a sizable and non-technical user population up and running with self-service dashboards and reports - and at a much lower cost than traditional, on-premise BI. This combination of low cost and pervasive deployment possibilities makes for more CRM data to actually be analyzed by those who would really benefit from the analysis.

    Brian Gentile
    CEO, Jaspersoft

  • There are atleast 2 broad categories when we look at CRM - One is the customer prospecting domain and the other is the customer experience area. For analytics around customer prospecting, Salesforce.com along with AppExchange and many other cloud applications (like Birst) that can pull in Salesforce data for analytics is a valuable addition to any organization.

    On customer experience analytics, am not sure that cloud can provide all the answers. Especially when you consider multi-channel customer experience, I don't think it is practically feasible (atleast for now) to capture all the data (say for example call log data)and push it onto the cloud. It might be a combination of on-premise and cloud technology (Microsoft Azure??) that can be a solution.

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