When you first started your business, it was exciting. You had something big to share with the world and couldn’t wait to get it out there. You started to grow and you thought that you would just keep on growing.
But then things started to feel a bit harder. You couldn’t keep juggling everything you were before. You were starting to bring people into your team but without a clear plan of how to keep them there. And the systems and processes that had worked so far started to fall apart.
One of those processes is almost certainly the way you gather and share data, and that’s what makes data integration so important.
Why data integration matters
Your business is built on data. Without data about your customers, products, services and suppliers, you don’t have a business. When you were in that exciting, winging-it startup stage, you maybe used and stored data using spreadsheets and didn’t think much about how you could share it. There wasn’t anyone to share it with.
Now, with a growing team and a whole new set of goals just within reach, the data you handle has become more complex. There’s more of it and more people using it. And there is potential for data to be a hindrance to your business as well as your most valuable tool.
What data integration is
If you’re collecting data in more than one place, you need a way to share it. If you don’t have a way to do that automatically, you’re costing yourself valuable time and you’re leaving your business vulnerable to mistakes.
Data integration simply means sharing data between systems. For many businesses, this means a CRM, such as Salesforce, and an ERP, such as Microsoft Dynamics. Though even if you’re not using a CRM and ERP yet, you could still benefit from some form of data integration.
With data integration, information gathered in one system can be accessed from another. So, vital customer data gathered in your ERP can be seen by your sales team in your CRM.
How to use data integration to grow your business
Data integration doesn’t need to be a costly or difficult process. Data integration tools can do the job for you off-the-shelf. While there are also custom solutions available, most smaller businesses looking to scale are able to get everything they need out of the box.
Data integration helps you grow because:
- It saves you time
Without data integration, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up copying data between systems manually or your team members will be spending time asking each other for data. That all takes time. Data integration completely removes this need.
- It saves you money
Anything that saves you time saves you money. Manual data sharing also inevitably brings mistakes, especially if you’re scaling. One tiny mistake in a spreadsheet full of data could have serious consequences, including reputational damage, for your business. You’re likely to get back whatever you invest in data integration.
- It helps you forecast
You can’t produce a really valuable business plan without reliable, accurate data. You can’t create meaningful forecasts. Data integration gives you that data.
Growing businesses need data integration. It’s an essential part of your growth toolkit.