data Archives - Caldere Associates

Why Do You Need CRM? Top Six Reasons

By | Act!, CRM, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Here’s what CRM really is

Businesses often use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) technology without a clear understanding of why they should use it, or even what it is. As a CRM professional, I often have trouble explaining to people what it is I do. My mother-in-law, in her mid-60s, understood when I told her, “Imagine if your Rolodex automatically kept track of every contact and every meeting you had with the people you dealt with in your business, and let you search within all that information for things you need to know” (she’s a smart lady, but she’s not a data professional). Since we at Caldere are professionals who use, maintain, and administer data, and you probably are too if you are reading this blog, we need to understand CRM a bit more technically.

Salesforce Europe provide a good starting definition:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with your customers and potential customers.

On a deeper level, Bain & Company think of CRM as a process that companies use to understand and react to their customers:

CRM technology allows firms to collect and manage large amounts of customer data and then carry out strategies based on that information. Data collected through focused CRM initiatives help firms solve specific problems throughout their customer relationship cycle—the chain of activities from the initial targeting of customers to efforts to win them back for more.

Clearly CRM technology is something that modern businesses need if they are to keep up with the information they gather daily about the people who are most important to them.

Some top reasons why businesses need CRM

6. Your paper “solutions” aren’t good enough anymore

Are you one of those people who has to have the latest TV and mobile phone, and perhaps a cool laptop to take to the coffee shop, but in your office you make do with collections of business cards and 3-ring binders full of notes? CRM technology is as critical to business as Google is to using the Internet. You can’t tap a phrase into a file cabinet and have it arrange your information so that it shows just the contacts who meet your criteria. You can send a paper marketing mailout, but you won’t get the attention of people who check their email twenty times for every time they check their post.

5. You don’t need to worry that you’ll lose your data

Office administrators know how vulnerable your paper notes are to being mislaid, misorganised, or discarded. IT professionals, similarly, know how vulnerable data is even when it is stored on your laptop or desktop, or on your office server. Servers can crash. Hard drives can fail. But a good CRM solution, administered by a good CRM provider, will be structured in a secure manner on servers that are maintained and backed up regularly. The advent of cloud computing brings you data anywhere and anytime, so long as you can access a connection. No matter where you are in the world, the critical customer data you gather is immediately accessible to your colleagues in every other location where you do business.

4. Your information is centralised

Similarly, customer and client information does nobody any good when it is locked into separate laptops accessible only to single users. Emails are usually stored in a single system, but are invisible to other people who work with the same clients. Communicating through a CRM system allows everyone in your organisation to see and keep up with what is happening to your relationship with a given client. Nobody has to look unprepared or uninformed because they missed the latest discussion or a critical meeting. Every piece of information can be made available to everyone who needs to know.

3. You can understand the past

There’s really no good way to look back into the history of your relationship with a customer without using CRM technology. If you want to look back in time and understand how things have progressed, you need a solution that tracks all of their communication… their sales history… their feedback… their issues. You’ll be able to save clients by knowing how to anticipate their needs and forestall common problems. You’ll be able to create marketing materials based on purchase and communication history.

2. You can coordinate the present

Using what you’ve learned about the relationship you have with your customers, you can make your business into a responsive and confident authority. You can design programs that give your customers the right kind of customer service experience. You can get sales and support staff talking to each other so that they can work together to give customers what they only guess they’ll need next. You can use customer feedback to tell you where your resources are best spent. You can use past sales history to suggest what potential maintenance issues a customer might be facing. In addition, you can plan your time using built-in calendar and task management so that every process is done right the first time.

1. You can foretell the future

Once you understand the past, and know what to do in the present, you will have a reasonably good idea what your efforts now will give rise to in the future. Things that used to come as complete surprises will be explainable, and you can plan for them, when you know why and how they happened. The better your data is in your history, and the better you track your campaigns, projects, and events, the more you can know about what is likely to happen in days, weeks, or months… with respect to individual clients, client companies, locations, or entire markets with which you have a relationship. New technology such as Business Intelligence (BI) can give you even more detailed predictive analysis to make the future much easier to plan for and to help you ask the right questions of your valuable data.

How can my company get more out of CRM?

Every company has some sort of customer relationship management system, even if it’s just a few accounts held in the CEO’s memory. Caldere, experts in CRM technology, can help you evaluate your current system and show you ways to better organise your data so it is more transparent and accessible. Effective, powerful solutions are available for every type of organisation. No organisation can afford to fall behind when it comes to managing their relationships with their customers. Contact us for a meeting and demonstration so we can show you what the current state of the technology is, and find the best solution for your needs.

Everyone Is a Decision Maker with BI

By | Business Intelligence, Business Management | No Comments

So you’re using Business Intelligence… but are you?

As business owners, managers, and IT professionals, we know what business intelligence is. It’s a way of using technology to make our valuable data interact with us as decision makers so we can understand it better and gain valuable insights. We can even manipulate the way the data is presented, recombine it, and drill down into it.

We’ve become comfortable with the idea that our data is more than just a bunch of records being warehoused on our server. Using the data to gauge and predict customer behavior, instead of just maintain customer history, has become commonplace. We’re now used to thinking of data as something that can be analysed using technological tools, and we’ve started to expect useful reports on demand. We may even think of business intelligence as part of the essential toolkit of the executive decision-maker. So what’s wrong with that? Well, nothing, except the word “executive”.

In the past couple of years, data professionals have realised that everyone at every level of business makes decisions, and that decisions always require good data. For example, HR professionals use business intelligence to track employee development and identify areas where people may need support. Line workers use business intelligence tools to monitor their machines and their own performance metrics in real time. Help desk analysts use business intelligence to understand early signs of trouble in the systems they support, or evidence that users need training in specific areas, based on ticket categories and volumes. A business isn’t really using BI to its full potential unless the whole business is using it. 

Data Democratisation and Systems of Insight

The idea that business intelligence is a tool for everyone in a business is called data democratisation. Boris Evelson, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, includes data democratisation in a model he calls Systems of Insight. Evelson defines Systems of Insight as the business discipline and technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into action.


© 2015 Forrester Research, Inc.

In Evelson’s model:

  • Early BI and data analytics belonged mainly to the IT department, and they used only the data that business management requested them to report on. There was a disconnect between the decision-maker and the data, because everything was filtered through the report-maker.
  • Agile BI began to close the gap between the decision-maker and the report dashboard, giving the decision-maker hands-on, self-service, analytics capability.
  • Big Data enabled businesses to store more data, access it faster, and deliver it in more and better ways.
  • Systems of Insight provide a context for Agile BI and Big Data to work synergistically, so that the massive quantity of data produced by a modern business can be packaged in the right way and delivered at the right time to the specific people who actually need to interpret, interact with, and act on it.

Helping the decision makers gain insights

Evelson’s report identifies three reasons that identifying these data users is the key to the success of Systems of Insight:

  • To make best use of business intelligence, it needs to be in the hands of the front line. Instead of leaving it in “technology centers”, executives need to make the technology available to and “embed these initiatives and budgets in revenue-generating departments”. He proposes that C-level executives take ownership of the systems of insight, with the CIO responsible for support and empowerment.
  • Data professionals need to allow data users more say in how to present the data. Naturally data pros will construct dashboards and reports for beginners, for critical uses, and for those who wish to maintain a primarily high-level understanding of their data. But as users become more knowledgeable in using these tools, they will become more sophisticated and demanding about exactly how they want to configure them. It will be time for the data pros to become facilitators, mentors, and troubleshooters as they enable users “to tackle the majority of their BI requirements and get their own insights”.
  • Data professionals must also use their experience and expertise to help their BI users “evolve into insights teams”. Evelson points out that users have been conditioned to blame the technology itself for their inability to use it. One reason for this is the mistrust that data pros have historically had for users, keeping the information and the technology “behind closed doors in a private office”. But they’re protecting the data from the people best positioned to understand it.

We’ve all probably seen database professionals act as though the data is too brittle to withstand handling. This is often as silly as expecting an Internet user to break a website by Googling it. But business users, who are the decision makers, won’t “break the database” by using analysis and BI tools. They can’t use their own experience and expertise to generate critical insights unless they are given free play in their own data. If BI is embedded into everyday operations, then it can suggest correlations and conclusions that they might not otherwise see or be able to act upon.

It’s time for data users to step up – Caldere can show you how

Decision makers at all levels need BI tools, and the Systems of Insight model, to help them understand the market, their business, their own jobs, and their customers’ expectations and behavior. Caldere is here to help businesses of all sizes, and all of the people in them, understand how to implement and learn the technology of business intelligence. Our professionals have the right experience, the right tools, and the right approach to getting you in touch with your business data in ways you have never thought of before.

Contact Caldere to find out how easy and cost-effective these insightful solutions can be for you and your business.

Source: It’s Time To Upgrade Business Intelligence To Systems Of Insight: Supercharge BI With Agility, Big Data, And Insights To Drive Action by Boris Evelson, July 20, 2015

Have you forgotten…? Leap Year tips and tricks

By | Act!, CRM, Maintenance, Tips and Tricks, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

It’s these three words that strike fear and panic in the soul of your average office worker, and they have the same effect on me, causing my heart to race and sweat to bead on my upper lip and forehead.

What? What had I forgotten? I racked my brain, but nothing jumped or even stumbled into view. An appointment, a teleconference, a deadline? No, none of those were possible, as they would have pinged up regular reminders during the last couple of days. I checked my calendar even so. No, nothing there. Ok, so maybe I hadn’t forgotten anything important after all. Oh, but wait a minute, did I finish those VAT returns, complete that user licence registration and order new toner for the photocopier? Check, check and check. Nobody’s birthday, too early for Mothering Sunday, and I picked up the dry-cleaning yesterday. I gave up.

Happy Leap Year Day

The forgotten fact, for fact it turned out to be, was that this was a leap year. So, what did that signify exactly, apart from the undisputable extra day which, instead of lurching us headlong from 28 February to 1 March, means that in 2016 we have a chance to linger a day longer in the littlest month.

Most of us would relish an extra 24 hours in our week (just imagine what more you could accomplish), but the reality of that extra day doesn’t really amount to very much at all. In fact, I suspect that if you are anything like me, this leap year day won’t be much different to any other – the usual round of meetings, a few support calls, some client billing and a bit of routine administration. But it needn’t be like that.

After I was reminded that we all had an extra day coming up, it got me to thinking about this year, and I wondered, why not do things slightly differently? After all it doesn’t happen very often so why not mark the occasion somehow. What you choose to do can be entirely up to you – something silly, something brave or even something exciting. As for me, I’ve decided to set aside Leap Year day to finally do some of those jobs around the office that aren’t especially urgent and which always get left ‘for another day’. Monday will finally be the day when I get round to them. At least that’s the plan.

I’ll let you know how I do.

Incidentally, if you fancy giving this Leap Year day challenge a go too, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at with details of what you intend to do and, more especially, how you got on.


Some things that get left for another day when dealing with CRM:

  • Check the database for duplicates (In Act!: click Tools, then choose Scan for Duplicate)
  • Clean out old data (Tools – Database Maintenance – Remove Old Data)
  • Database Repair (Tools – Database Maintenance – Check and Repair)
  • Database Backup (File – Backup – Database)

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