ERP and CRM: Are they Finally Working Together?

Businesses should treat data and its management as a critical business asset. By prioritising data value realisation and development, and creating information architecture that allows for innovation and customisation of the data, we can maximise its contribution to business success.

IDC calculates that by 2020 there will be 44 trillion gigabytes of data in the digital world, a figure which is increasing by a huge 40% per year. It’s also thought that only 22% of available information in 2013 was able to be analysed – only 5% of which actually was. Even more data exists today.

Data is the lifeblood of modern business. Global and local operations in nearly every field rely on content information analysis and feedback to discover their past performances and inform their future strategies. Because there is such a huge market of information – not just what exists for free, but also the new stores of purchasable, personal data that are popping up – picking what’s relevant to these goals is difficult.

The way businesses approach data analysis and use needs to become more efficient. It’s time to move away from basic data management and think about integrated, business-minded analysis of data as it is created.

The Information Transformation

40% of the manufacturing workforce is made up of knowledge workers. The many facets of information – possession, analysis, etc are vital to these roles. However, businesses are struggling to provide data management and access systems that are unified and have an adequate user interface.

The plight of the knowledge worker continues with the growing cross-platform nature of modern business. There is a burgeoning need for software and networks to allow collaboration across departments or even industries – but the way data and its applications are currently ‘siloed’ doesn’t allow this.

An ‘information transformation’ would help workers to get the most from their data. This transformation means abandoning the stockpiling of data and instead devoting resources to value realisation and development, as well as better information architecture.

One way of doing this is by merging fields that, once separate, have since been shown to work better together. We’re talking about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). These two types of information management and deployment compliment each other so well that technology giants are already getting in on the action.

This digital transformation requires a degree of business process agility, and a unification across the business, not supported by the traditional ‘siloed’ ERP and CRM approach of the past. – Jujhar Singh, corporate VP for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft is overhauling its CRM and ERP and repurposing them into a cloud-based software. This technology is specifically aimed at businesses and large-scale users of the Microsoft Office 365 suite.

With a release date later this year, its several separate applications are all precisely designed for a wide range of fields; financials, field services, marketing, customer service, and many more.

All these apps are useable on their own, but are designed with integration in mind; the modern business is less focused on isolated systems and more likely to need cross-departmental utility.

This integration is completely drawn from cloud technology, which allows each of the Dynamics 365’s customers their own database. With these totally online, updates are quick and easy, and everything can be done remotely.

Appsource, released along with Dynamics 365, is an application marketplace for the same target customer. Potential users are able to try the cloud-based apps Microsoft releases before committing to the fully-integrated Dynamics platform. It is targeted at businesses as a whole, not individual users. So, with this in mind, Microsoft’s licensing model will provide access to apps based on complete employee roles, instead of forcing the customer to assign apps one-by-one.

Our new role-based approach will give customers the flexibility the need to support modern, more agile, more diverse employee roles. – Singh.

SAP Hybris Commerce

Another hybrid of CRM and ERP, this software is aimed at both business-to-customer and business-to-business engagement. SAP decided to integrate customer engagement and business tools because of certain research that came to light: 91% of marketers believed personalisation was the key to superior customer engagement, but also reported using 11 different, siloed channels on average. This is poor functionality for a good concept; Microsoft and SAP Hybris are about to change these statistics forever.

Omnichannel commerce and the ability to deliver exceptional digital experiences are more important than ever. – Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer at SAP Hybris.

The new SAP Hybris Commerce includes:

SAP Hybris Commerce, like Microsoft Dynamics 365, is available as a cloud-based app. It’s point of difference is that it can also be installed on-premise or downloaded.

What we see with these two products is that combining CRM and ERP data can result in a much more modern take on data usage; but more importantly, it’s easily able to keep innovating within itself.

Like SAP and Microsoft, other businesses should treat data and its management as a critical business asset. By prioritising data value realisation and development, and creating information architecture that allows for innovation and customisation of the data, we can maximise its contribution to business success.

Next Ventures is partnered with SAP technology along with many other cutting-edge data integration companies. If you’re thinking about merging your ERP and CRM, get in touch.