Many manufacturers are smart about managing their own information, using tools like ERP and CRM systems. Combining that internal information effectively with Big Data, however, is a challenge.
When organizations treat ERP and CRM systems as separate IT tools performing very different functions, they miss out on the significant cost savings of integrating these systems, according to a recent article from SmartData Collective.
Generally speaking, a manufacturing ERP system helps coordinate materials and resources, while CRM systems handle an organization’s customer accounts. By integrating the two, organizations are able to harmonize relationships between customer needs and production planning. This improves efficiency by eliminating the need for other steps and processes to bridge this information gap, and paves the way for additional integration with Big Data resources.
While the article describes integrating ERP and CRM systems as “a huge challenge,” it’s not exactly a new or insurmountable task. Many manufacturing organizations have been using fairly sophisticated integrations for quite some time. But looking at opportunities for pulling Big Data into the world of CRM and ERP tools represents something new for many organizations.
Manufacturers often have analytics teams that use Big Data in some fashion. But pulling it into their operational data may produce valuable insights into buying patterns and trend analysis. Once your ERP and CRM systems are integrated with Big Data, you’re able to see seasonal trends, order trends and other patterns that are often invisible from a more day-to-day perspective.
For example, let’s say your organization manages 3,000 SKUs (stock-keeping units) globally. An integrated system might allow you to monitor the performance of your top 10 dealers and analyze buying patterns year over year by product category or SKU. Drop-offs in some SKUs in different parts of the world might indicate a competitor is edging in — potentially valuable business intelligence.
Large enterprises have been using similar trend analysis for years, but these tactics take some time to trickle down to mid-size organizations. While integrated CRM and ERP systems aren’t uncommon, using Big Data in operations may be a ways off for many organizations. The potential, however, is certainly compelling.
To learn more about integrating your ERP and CRM systems, schedule a free operational assessment today.
Source: SmartData Collective, February 2014