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Liz Barnsdale

Are SMEs are getting left behind when it comes to connecting data?

Data collection and CRM technology is fast becoming the cornerstone of a successful business. Here are our four top tips on "connected data" and what connected data means for SMEs.

  1. Understand why connected data is important to your business: Don't just connect your data because you think you should do it. Therein could lie unnecessary cost and distraction from your core business. Do it because you know why it's important for your business and your customer. And to do this you need to be clear on your future business strategy. What's your destination in the next 1-5 years and how does connecting data across your business help you achieve that.
  2. Similarly you need to focus your efforts: There are many partners and tech providers who can support you in connecting your customer and business data to deliver a better experience of your product or service. And a lot will sell you the end to end dream. But if you're budgets don't allow that you need to focus on where you'll gain the biggest advantage and/or answer the biggest need. Be that in linking your delivery or distribution function to your customer POS, or connecting your social interactions with your customer service functionality as just two examples of the possibilities connected data allows.
  3. Find the right partner: by being clear on why you want to connect data, and where you want to focus first, it will help you start to narrow down the field of possible partners who could help you. Because in all honesty that field is enormous and growing by the day so it's very easy to get lost in a sea of jargon and unnecessary complexity. Agencies like ais exist to help businesses change in this space and find the right solutions to drive growth. So it's worth it, if you can, to invest in some consultancy up front to help you define your list of possible partners or solutions to connect up your data. If you can't stretch to that then speak to businesses you admire or people you trust to find out who they work with or how they did it.
  4. SME's can succeed where many companies fail: The good news is it's worth the effort. Your competitive advantage vs. mid-larger corporations in your sector is that whilst your IT budgets might be smaller, your ability to incorporate new technology and join up your customer and business data is far greater. Without cumbersome processes, systems and organisational red tape you can define your solution and in most cases just crack on with it. So embrace that competitive advantage and run where others can merely limp.
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