What the Self-Service BI Trend Means for Sales and Marketing Pros

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Today’s guest post is by Jessica Barrett Holcom, from TechnologyAdvice.

The volume of data being produced today is almost staggering, and that trajectory is rapidly increasing. If they’re able to get access to all of this data in a unified place, sales and marketing professionals can visualize it to gain visibility into customer behavior and program effectiveness.

The visualization of this data, or business intelligence (BI), is employed by most industries and professions, and you can count sales and marketing teams among those that have benefited from the advantages BI has to offer. With complete and unified datasets available for their BI tool, teams are able to identify where their most valuable opportunities are, and have a better understanding of customers’ decision journey, all while making their analyses faster and simpler.

The problem?

Getting access to unified datasets for non-technical users. Data relevant to sales and marketing teams is generated and housed in many places and on various platforms in an organization, such as customer relationship management (CRM) tools, point-of-sale systems, and marketing automation software. Because the data they need is fragmented across tools, and only exists in a unified manner in an organization’s data warehouse, sales and marketing departments are reliant on using their own in-house team of data analysts or working with the IT department as middle-men to generate business-critical reports.

While data analysts and IT professionals have a lot to offer in the way of insight and expertise, getting relevant data to the sales and marketing teams in a timely manner isn’t necessarily realistic for their workloads. What’s more is that “timely” no longer means “by the end of the business day” when critical decisions are now able to be made immediately.

The solution: self-service business intelligence

Having access to the data that drives critical business decisions is crucial. In order to stay competitive, everyone who needs data should have that visibility. In order to gain access to the unified data that lives in their data warehouse, teams need a self-service business intelligence tool. There are several reasons that a self-service BI tool is advantageous specific to sales and marketing:

Improved Resource Allocation

BI tools have evolved to the point that they are streamlined and intuitive, meaning that one doesn’t need extensive technical skills in order to manipulate and understand the data they’re looking for. Giving sales and marketing teams access to their data by integrating BI with CRM and marketing automation tools means that they have more control, and the IT department’s resources can be allocated to more of the things they are experts in handling. Make sure your marketing automation and CRM tools integrate with your preferred BI tool and other technologies, or find recommendations for systems that do here.

More Control

The speed of business today has radically changed the way we react to market changes. No longer are department heads and the C-suite waiting to see what end-of-quarter numbers show before making the decision to implement change. Self-service BI offers the ability to be proactive. When you’re working directly with this data, you’re no longer at the mercy of another team to let you in on what’s going on, not to mention, keeping you ahead of your competition. Additionally, most BI tools are cloud-based, meaning that employees can access information anytime from anywhere and on any device. This is a huge advantage, especially to those sales professionals who travel a great deal of the time.

Only Relevant Data

When sales and marketing teams are dependent on the IT department for data, they will often receive too much data because IT doesn’t know their exact data requirements. The result? Sales and marketing professionals are inundated and overwhelmed by information they don’t understand how to use. Self-service BI tools allow each person to leverage only the relevant data they need.

Employee Ownership + Personal Identification of Customer Trends

Being actively involved in a task or project from the ground up increases our level of ownership and accountability. When sales and marketing professionals are given the opportunity to mine their own data, generate their own reports, and analyze the results themselves, their level of accountability increases, as does their creativity as it relates to problem solving and idea creation. There’s also quite a difference between being told how and why customer behavior responds to your campaigns, and actually digging in to the data yourself to determine what is working or not working, and how you have personally impacted those results and can either replicate or change behavior going forward.

As sales and marketing teams continue to realize the benefits of accurately forecasted sales, and in identifying new customer segments and markets backed by data, it’s important to consider the added advantages provided by self-service BI tools. These include the ability to manipulate data in multiple ways, ensuring that users understand which campaigns were effective and why, or how they can make timely changes and decisions.

When we put data in to the hands of the people with the most control over changing the outcome of behavior, we empower them to make sound, data-backed decisions and implement creative, timely changes.

Author Bio

Jessica Barrett Halcom headshot

Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.