Small Businesses Adopting CRM, Struggling with Data Integration

By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2013-01-25 Print this article Print

The methods SMBs use to achieve data integration are inadequate, with only 18 percent reporting marketing data as being fully automated with their CRM.

As small and midsize businesses become more savvy in their use of marketing, analytics and forecasting, customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are finding a home among small businesses, according to a survey of more than 300 organizations conducted by CRM data integration specialist Scribe Software.

Most small businesses (79 percent) report they intend to stick to their current CRM system of choice, while a fifth indicated they might switch CRM providers in the next 3-6 months, although the survey indicated there is more to be desired from CRM, with Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities receving low marks. Survey respondents ranked analytics and reporting as their top IT system pain point (66 percent) followed by CRM (21 percent) and email (13 percent).

Midmarket companies are using CRM to store all prospect and customer information in one place (85 percent), provide capabilities to easily share data between departments (77 percent), report on the health of their sales pipeline (64 percent), and to run marketing reports (53 percent), as well as for the management of prospect and customer contact information (94 percent), lead nurturing (65 percent), email marketing (59 percent), and sales forecasting (59 percent).

However, survey results indicated the methods SMBs use to achieve data integration are inadequate, with only 18 percent reporting marketing data as being fully automated with their CRM. As a result, this lack of automated marketing data integration is posing reporting challenges for SMBs, with 52 percent finding marketing reporting and 44 percent indicating sales reporting to be somewhat or very challenging.

The biggest IT challenge faced by SMBs lies in data quality and data integration, as the survey indicated SMBs are seriously challenged in their ability to share critical financial data on prospects and customers with the rest of the business. Lack of resources was the second biggest challenge, followed by systems performance.

Just 40 percent of SMBs reported seamless prospect data sharing between finance and sales, and finance and marketing, 43 percent reported seamless customer data sharing between finance and sales, and 41 percent between finance and marketing, and finance and customer service. An additional 60 percent still report struggles on their journey to seamless data sharing.

Small business marketing departments are looking to 2013 as the year to invest, with nearly a quarter (24 percent) putting money virtual events and conference platforms, email (16 percent) and sales compensation platforms (11 percent). Implementing or upgrading a CRM platform was cited by just 2 percent of respondents, equal with the percentage planning to make investments in BI capabilities.


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