(This article originally appeared in Forbes)
“Clearly, for too many companies, the hype about data-driven decision-making is not being matched by reality.” Those are the words from Sovan Bin, the CEO and founder of enterprise data platform Odaseva. He had more to say in this press release:
“More than three-quarters of large enterprises admit that they’re lacking fundamentals in data management, and this is preventing them from unlocking the full value of their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) data. And yet, most enterprises — 64 percent — expect that the number one benefit of CRM data is an improved customer experience. There’s a clear disconnect here — and it must be addressed by rethinking data strategies, so CRM data becomes useful and actionable.”
What prompted his statement?
It was this study that his company commissioned from research firm Forrester. It found that 78 percent of enterprises report gaps in their data management that prevent them taking full advantage of their data and 64 percent said they find it challenging to actually move CRM data to platforms where it could be valuably used. Half of large enterprises worldwide (47 percent) feel they cannot rely on their CRM data to provide a single source of truth regarding customer data.
For the past few years CRM platforms have been stressing data, data, data. They’re using AI (Artificial Intelligence) as a marketing tool to lure companies into the enticing world of being able to predict what customers and prospects will do in the future based on their prior behavior. But the reality is not living up to the hype. Why?
Odaseva’s Bin believes it’s for two big reasons. The first is that the majority of enterprises lack the basic foundations of data management. The other is that security concerns are limiting companies’ ability to truly leverage their data. Forrester’s research recommends that business invest in more skills training, improve their “data continuity” and step up their security.
I’ve learned to take these “commissioned” studies in stride because there’s always an agenda behind the findings. Odaseva is a data platform, so obviously a narrative where data is the problem and needs to be improved serves the company’s best interests.
But the findings do match what I see. Most of my clients complain about the integrity of their CRM information and I can’t think of one that would rely on their CRM system’s data for analysis of customer behavior, let alone sending a simple email campaign, without some human oversight. The AI tech is just not there yet. And it’s going to take some time — and bigger strides — to achieve even those goals.
CRM systems are merely cloud-based databases. It’s as simple as that. At the very least, any organization that wants to get a satisfactory amount of ROI from their CRM system needs to invest in both people and tools to ensure that the data in the system is accurate, complete and can be relied on by sales, marketing and service teams. Security is also of prime concern. And then it’s about the questions: what behavior do we want to predict? What data do we need to predict this behavior? What’s our confidence in these predictions? How can we leverage these analytics to grow our sales?
Figuring out the answers to this question will be of primary concern to successful companies using good CRM systems in the future. But it will time and investment. Not making that investment merely creates a mess of data that is unusable…and will certainly hurt a company’s longer term value.