Business intelligence blog

    Business intelligence vs CRM

    The difference between business intelligence (BI) and customer relationship management (CRM) can be confusing. This is because BI and CRM share a number of the same functions – most notably in using historical data to identify key trends that business people can use to their advantage. The similarities often mean there is an ongoing debate about which system is best for a business. The truth is, there is value in both depending on your business goals.

    What is CRM?

    CRM is software that manages the process companies use to track and manage contact details and interactions with current and prospective customers.

    • CRM also lets you focus on your organization’s relationships with individual people. They might be customers, service users, colleagues or suppliers. Its usefulness extends beyond sales and it can benefit a business from HR to customer service through to supply chain management. CRM software, if used by all departments can enhance collaboration and make lead generation and customer service more efficient.

    What is business intelligence?

    Business intelligence (BI) is the process of making informed business decisions using real-time data. BI software collects and converts raw business data into actionable intelligence allowing people across your organization to track key performance indicators, quickly analyze performance and use the information to make more informed business decisions.

    A BI solution helps decision makers rely less on instinct and perception and instead lets you ask questions of your data to make critical decisions based on facts. It does this by aggregating all the data from your various systems – including your CRM – and collates it to give users a single source of truth.

    Standard business intelligence capabilities? 

    Users of BI software are able to complete the following tasks:

    • Track key performance indicators to understand and improve the execution of business strategies
    • Identify and analyze data to more effectively predict trends and future issues
    • Integrate data sources and silos from across the company to improve collaboration and provide a more complete picture of business operations
    • Give access to BI software to those responsible for guiding your business so they can accelerate and improve business decision-making
    • Optimize business processes to increase productivity and efficiency
    • Analyze customer data to improve marketing and sales programs
    • Give executives and leaders the information they need to improve strategic planning

    Using a single source of data

    A single source of truth is a result of a BI solution’s ability to draw data from multiple sources and present it in charts, graphs and reports.

    CRMs cannot perform this function. Because a CRM is in itself a data source, many are limited to only accessing information stored in its own database. In other words, data that is stored in external databases cannot be sourced and used in CRM reporting, and this is where BI has the advantage.

    Companies that do not use BI are at risk of making decisions based on inconsistent data. While a sales manager might be using historical data from a CRM system, the CEO might be basing decisions on data stored in the ERP system, leading to conflicting interpretations of the right course of action. Using a single source of data can reveal trends and present opportunities to better position your company for growth, and prevent instability.

    Recognising the importance of data

    The ability to turn raw information into actionable insights is the primary purpose of both CRM and BI. The differences lie in each systems flexibility in the data its able to source for analysis.

    CRM is more consumer-centric. Its primary purpose is to help a business streamline the customer experience regarding sales and marketing.

    BI builds on CRM systems by collating all of your company’s data and makes it easy to ask questions of it to help form a clear picture of how the entire business is performing.

    Why choose Phocas?

    Phocas is a whole-of-business-solution that helps you get answers to your pressing questions in seconds, bringing together data from across the business into one source of truth.

    The leading BI software simplifies the way businesses make critical decisions by integrating data from your ERP, CRM, spreadsheets, or other data sources in a simple-to-use solution that is easy to understand, and designed for anyone in your company to use.

    Phocas presents data in a live analysis grid that you can drill into based on the questions you ask, slicing and dicing to get the answers you need.

    Phocas Software helps thousands of manufacturing, distribution and retail customers around the world use data to identify opportunities, grow profits and increase efficiencies. It’s an intuitive, user-friendly solution for all skill levels that becomes your single source of truth.

    There are many ways sales managers can benefit from data analytics. To find out more about building a case for data analytics, download this free ebook here.

    Written by Phocas Software
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