When it comes to effective business management there is a constant debate whether companies should go with setting up CRM for forecasting and Analytics or BI software. This is due to the fact that both share a number of similar features and are aimed at using historical data to identify key trends.
Obviously, there is not a single right answer to the question which one is better, and as always it depends on the business requirements and specifics of operation. So, in this article we’ll take a look at key differences between Business Intelligence and Customer Relationship Management platforms and identify their core strengths and weaknesses.
The Purpose of CRM & Business Intelligence Software
Although on a functionality level, these types of software share quite a lot, they were built for different purposes.
BI was built from a need to obtain strategic intelligence from fields of data in order to inform business decisions. Over the years, the data produced by any company grew to the point, where no human brain could comprehend it any longer and information management needed to be interpreted by software with high computational power. BI was born as a means to rationalize immense volumes of data into actionable reports.
On the other hand, CRMs were developed with a customer-centric approach. The platform serves a need to execute almost every part of the customer experience in a more efficient and time-conserving manner. CRM uses data, not to project broad business performance, but rather to help in retaining loyal customers and attracting new ones.
CRM Pros and Cons
Although originally, CRMs weren’t capable of accessing data stored across distributed sources, modern platforms have integrations that allow enhanced data acquisition and reporting. So, let’s take a look at some CRM pros and cons.
But even with the latest additions to its functionality, even the best CRM is still focused on sales or marketing. Customer relationship management software is tailored so that any salesperson can easily interpret information and customize reporting to suit their needs.
CRMs are easy to use and they perform their task really well. If you’re looking for customer behavior patterns and need to structure a workflow for sales and marketing departments, the CRM will be your software of choice. But there are limitations to what the platform can achieve, as it is not very effective at obtaining and interpreting information outside its realm. You will not be able to obtain reliable business insights into external market trends.
Pros and Cons of Business Intelligence
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of BI software is its innate complexity. It is true that vendors try to enhance user experience and make powerful BI tools easy to use, but still, a business needs a skilled analyst with a strong business background in order to realize the full potential of the software.
Technical and business skills are equally important, as setting up Business Intelligence requires high-level of technical understanding, but it must be informed by business objectives. This type of software is innately more complicated but it provides a greater functionality as well as more uses. Unlike CRM, BI can give you a broader look at your business performance due to flexibility in implementation and integration stages.
However, this complexity makes it cumbersome, and kind of “easy to break”.
Connecting CRM & Business Intelligence
But some companies actually require both:
- Simplicity and customer focus of CRM;
- Flexibility and functionality of BI.
There is a misconception that you can use BI as a CRM but you cannot use CRM as a BI tool. Although it is true that with standard Business Intelligence capabilities you can aggregate data in such a way that it performs CRM tasks, but it still lacks a very significant aspect – simplicity to be operated not by a professional analyst.
Naturally, in order to build a system that incorporates strengths of both, special integrations were built that allow businesses to combine two different systems in a single cohesive IT environment.
For example, Salesforce CRM has a business intelligence solution that can be implemented in your SaaS platform. Moreover, the company has invested a lot in AI and predictive analytics to compete with software such as Power BI.
Associating the CRM application with the business intelligence (BI) system can provide enormous flexibility and a bird’s eye view of your business performance. Moreover, combining two will give your business some of the most advanced forecasting and predictive analytics capabilities.
Business Intelligence vs CRM Services by OMI
Now depending on your business requirements, you might want to consider specific software. When it comes to considering whether to implement a CRM system, a BI system or both, there is a question that you need to ask yourself:
What is your central business goal: improving customer retention and increasing sales? Identifying and monitoring key market trends and formulating a strategy? Or both?
Here at OMI, we create robust solutions in the field of data analytics. With our combined expertise in BI and as CRM implementation, we can create a cost-efficient and powerful IT infrastructure with smooth data integration between platforms.