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Ten CRM Questions to Ask Before You Get Started

Man holding the acronym CRM

This is the second installment of our excerpt series from our White Paper, “The Beginner’s Guide to CRM: An Honest Look at the Pros and Cons.” Go here to download the paper.

If you are exploring CRM, you probably have lots of questions.  Questions about feasibility, questions about cost, questions about implementation, the questions may seem to never end.

Instead of suffering from analysis paralysis, just focus on these ten main CRM questions, and all the other issues should begin to resolve themselves.

 While you may get the impression that CRM platforms are inevitable for your business, now may or may not be the right time to make the leap.

If you answer “yes” to many of these CRM questions, than a CRM system might be a good fit.

  1. Can you afford to fix your system “if the plumbing breaks” and something goes wrong with your data?
  2. Would you rather have more clients-per-agent or to simply hire more agents?
  3. Do you have someone you can call if you get in over your head?
  4. Would it harm your company if your competition were building proficiency with CRM while you are not?
  5. Do you have people who can champion this initiative that are knowledgeable about technology, data systems, and your business processes?
  6. Will your CRM team be able to take the time to learn about this platform?
  7. Will your CRM expert be able to teach the rest of your organization how to use the system?
  8. Do you suspect there may be inefficiencies in your sales processes?
  9. Will you be able to encourage adoption within your organization so that your team actually uses the system?
  10. Do you have the time and patience to read and understand CRM best practices?

It’s normal to answer “no” to  a few of these questions, but more than five negative responses is a pretty strong sign. If you are unhappy with the results of the quiz, try speaking to a consultant who can help you prepare a strong foundation for your CRM.

Still have questions? We’re here to help. Contact us for a risk-free CRM consultation.

Why Service Providers Must Start Preparing for I&R Linked Data RIGHT NOW

Team-of-business-people-collabI&R needs to change how it handles data, and fortunately AIRS is providing leadership and action on this by developing a linked data strategy. As AIRS continues its progress with the linked data strategy, the rest of I&R should begin preparing for the advent of I&R linked data.

What is an API? What is Linked Data? How did this come about?

If you’re up-to-date on the linked data strategy, skip this section. In 2014, AIRS recognized the need to develop an application-programming interface (API) for I&R data. This would allow the I&R data stores more accessible to each other and to the outside world, and enable key technologies such as mobile app development.

Without getting too technical, AIRS decided eventually on a “linked data” strategy. This strategy would give each data item a series of uniform characteristics that make them index-able. It’s similar to the way search engines like Google work. For example, when you search for “How to make eggs benedict,” Google displays a list of recipes. This is possible because the website-makers told Google that their content is indeed a “recipe,” and that the recipe is for “eggs benedict,” and so on. This may be an over-simplified analogy but you get the basic idea.

I&R’s Next Huge API Hurdle

The development of the linked data strategy is a tremendously technical task that is in capable hands. But once the AIRS team has built the “airplane,” how are we going to fly it? Where will it take off and how is it going to land? These are questions that I&R leaders should be exploring immediately.

For instance, one major issue will be data management. Data is a shared digital resource that needs to be maintained, like water in a swimming pool. If it’s left to stagnate, it’ll get funky. It’s too costly a job for just one organization to maintain and having everyone chip in a little effort is laborious to implement.

Another issue is getting all the service providers on the same page in regards to data management. Linked data is a great strategy but it requires some unification and industry-wide change. For example, everyone has to agree to standards and adapt their businesses to include these guidelines. The diverse interests of I&R providers could make this difficult.

These are just some of the tasks I&R must begin to address, and no doubt more obstacles will surface. AIRS is taking a huge step forward on behalf of I&R, but implementing the linked data strategy will be a major undertaking even after the technology is developed. To prepare, I&R leaders should begin receiving direction on how to get ready for the advent linked data.

 

 

 

5 Reasons Why Businesses are Hiring Management and Technology Consulting Hybrids

Traditional business consultants are largely falling out of favor for management and technology consulting hybrids. While there are many business consultants who are truly worth their rates, a pervasive feeling in the business world is that a business consultant is someone who “takes your watch and tell you what time it is.”

There are five main reasons why businesses are opting to hire management consultants who are also business technology experts:

Reason #1: Business Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

This is a common problem as workplaces become more invested in powerful but highly complex technology. Often times, these businesses will hit a technology roadblock and have no idea how to overcome it. And while IT experts can straighten out the tech problem, the problem often lies at the crossroads of business and technology.

Reason #2: IT-Only Firms Are Not Understanding Business Objectives

Many times, clients seek help from the big IT firms or hire techno “geeks” to directly interact with business processes. While the valuable work of these professionals is not to be understated, their interest and focus lies sometimes exclusively with the tech and not the living, process-side of the equation.  Frequently, this results in technology that runs fine but goes underutilized. Itcan also lead to an expensive misalignment of technology and business objectives.

Reason #3: Management and Technology Consultants Creatively Offer Solutions

IT firms are great if you already have a good idea of what you want, but unfortunately sometimes the solutions aren’t always so clear. A common mistake businesses make is feeding info to an IT person, only to have them completely misinterpret what was said. This can be a costly mistake.

Management and technology expert listen with both an ear for business goals and technology requirements. As such, they can help clients make informed decisions in regards to their sales, data management, security, and other goals.

Reason #4: Management and Technology Consultants Can Become Trusted Advisors

In many organizations, technology experts with business skills are moving up the corporate ladder and into the boardrooms since their input is necessary for modern problems. Those that have the propensity for business activities as well as the technology are valuable assets to the company. Someone who can wear both hats can make a great addition to a leadership team, especially in a part-time or contract capacity.

Reason #5: Top-tier Performance with Technology is a Necessity

Technology is slated to be the cause of most business growth for at least the short term future, according to a 2014 survey by McKinsey & Co.  As such, technology-based leadership is growing in demand, and professionals who can do this are harder to find. Many businesses are getting their relationships in place now to strengthen their business/technology infrastructure for the future.

 

 

GeauxPoint Celebrates Six Years, Releases White Paper

One dim lightbulb and one lit lightbulb and the GeauxPoint logo

GeauxPoint is pleased to release our newest white paper, “2020: Will You Get There? A Business Guide to Overcoming Disruption.” The paper helps business leaders prepare for change by listing four major sources of disruption and how to get past them.

The four categories of disruption according to the guide are 1) Disruptive innovation 2) Technology upheaval 3) Cultural Shits and 4) Changes in pricing determination.

The guide take a close-up examination of the banking, healthcare, non-profit, and business association industries. It also traces the histories of businesses that either succeeded or failed to navigate change. The paper uses these cases to demonstrate effective change-handling strategies.

The guide coincides with GeauxPoint’s entering into its sixth year. Over the last two years, we’ve more than doubled our book of business, adding multiple national and international clients.

Thought leadership is a core value of GeauxPoint, and as we grow, we intend to share as much of our knowledge as possible with our friends.

Click here to read the paper!

The #1 Biggest Mistake Small Business Make in Technology

Helping hand in business

We once had a client who hired one of the area’s largest IT firms for her small business. This was a huge mess-up, and one that we see all the time.

She had gotten the reference from a close acquaintance, who worked at a large corporate office. The IT firm did great work for the large office and mostly supported the organization’s existing infrastructure and in-house IT team.

When the large IT firm got to my client’s small business, however, the job description was much different. They essentially had to build a technology infrastructure and telephony system from the ground-up for a five-person office.

Thousands of dollars and dozens of wasted hours later, my client could not understand why her investment was the source of so many problems. She thought she was going with the “cadillac” option will all the assurances they came with it. As it turned out, the IT company had installed a system that was perfect for large corporate office, but lousy for a small business. Really lousy, actually, and the whole system had to be scrapped.

Seek a Technology Advisor, Not a Large Tech Company

Hiring a large tech company with just because they have a solid track record is the #1 biggest mistake small businesses make in technology.

Large tech companies go with what they know. Their business model relies on servicing large clients, and often times they treat small businesses like large corporations.

If you have a smaller office, it’s best to build a relationship with a trusted technology partner. One reason for this is that an advisor will take the time to understand your unique business position and goals. The consultant can act like a part of the team, and often times provides advice beyond what is billed for if the relationship is good.

Also, small-business technology advisors are accustomed to the problems that the organizations face. “When all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” is an adage that aptly describes the way a large IT firm might approach a small-business problem.

Additionally, a technology advisor is someone with whom you can build a relationship with over time. If the relationship is good, the advisor will be more inclined to help you without worrying about billing so much. He or she might be willing to go the extra mile in the case of major problems, and will be more likely to give sound advice rather than administer placating “bad medicine.”

The downside of hiring an advisor is that they aren’t always a cost-effective option for managing the day-to-day operations regarding IT work. However, most will work with you to find a feasible maintenance solution or will train you to do this yourself, saving you tons of money.

In any case, always seek a technology advisor that is a good fit for your business. Just because a building contractor built the Empire State Building doesn’t mean they should build your house.

 

Tactical vs. Strategic Technology Management: Which do you need?

A business man pointing at an idea lightbulb

A mistake too many businesses make is not balancing their technology initiatives with a proper mix of tactical and strategic team members.

If technology was football, the strategic technology people would be the players doing the blocking and tackling while the tactical ones would be the ones calling the plays from up above.

If a technology team is balanced too much towards the tactical side, then operations run smoothly for a while but problems set in after time. Troubleshooting isn’t a problem, and employees are happy for the most part because they always have someone there for to lend technical assistance. This can lead to a false sense of security.

The disadvantages to having to many field-level IT guys, however, is that no one is thinking about business objectives or long-term goals. As a result, problems inevitably start mounting over time, and opportunities are missed as well. The technology team may overlook the growing disparity between new and old systems. They won’t deeply delve into the root causes of problems or  advocate for change. Also, they will not champion projects that take workers out of their technological comfort zone, but will lead to significant increases in productivity in time.

Conversely, the technology team that includes too many strategic thinkers will know which way to they want to go, but won’t have the means to get there. This team will generate high-level concepts, create quality content such as reports, closely monitor tech trends, analyze the competition, and develop innovative strategies. However, without the tactical people to support the strategic leader, there will be no way to achieve these high-level goals. And although most strategic technology professional know how to do tactical stuff, their work won’t always be cost-effective since they usually charge more.

Most organizations understand the tactical part of technology, but fail on the strategic part of the equation. Executives of these organizations may be reliant on their own ability to set the direction for technology, or may be under the impression that their IT team will alert them as to anything important. This is hazardous, however, since technology is complex and always moving.

In a rapidly changing business landscape, technological capacity is essential to remain competitive. The efficacy of the technology team depends on a proper balance of both strategic “coaches” and the tactical “players.”

To learn more about technology strategies that can help your business, contact us for a free consultation.