Business intelligence is the way of the future for companies of all sizes. As data gets bigger and the Internet of Things (IoT) takes over, businesses can leverage intelligence to get insights that would otherwise go unnoticed.
How you go about gathering information depends on the technology you have at your disposal. Today, software is essential and abundant. Every day new software is developed that promises to deliver data, automate systems and help you do more in less time.
And that’s the big issue for many businesses. There are so many options it’s hard to gauge what you really need. Software may need to meet minimal BI system requirements or sync with existing information systems. It should also offer in-depth reporting, have a measurable value and provide actionable information that allows you to make more sound business decisions.
That’s what the software programs below can do. They are essential components of true business intelligence. You just have to know what to look for in order to choose the best software for your business.
How to Choose Relationship Building CRM Software
All businesses have customers or clients. Managing those relationships is a pivotal part of success and revenue generation. Customer relationship management (CRM) software does just that while gathering data about your network and how your business interacts with clients.
CRM software is designed to be a virtual Roladex that does much more than storing contact information. With some programs you don’t even have the enter the contact information manually. It’s synced with online forms to capture the info automatically.
Once a new contact is made it can also trigger a follow-up nurturing campaign that builds the relationship. For example, CRM software can be built to send an email to a new contact’s email address within five minutes of capturing their information. You can also generate reports that tell you more about your customer base as a whole and the most effective way to interact with them.
You can build CRM software in-house or buy a ready-made solution from a software company. Either way, it helps to do an audit of your current client communication system. This can help you decide which CRM offers the best features and can import customer data without time-consuming manual input.
How to Choose Automated Email Software
Email is still one of the most cost-effective means of marketing and communicating today. However, in our instant gratification world, customers want a quick response. Unless you want to pay for around-the-clock customer service rep, the best option is email marketing software.
The software can be programmed to send an auto-response anytime a person emails a specific account or at a specified time and day. You’ve probably received a few of these emails yourself. The software basically puts an email marketing campaign on autopilot while also capturing important business information like open rate and click-thru rate. The user data collected by the software can help you fine-tune your marketing campaigns for better conversion.
One of the most important features to pay attention to is how contact information is imported. You want to find a program that will make this as easy as possible if you have a large contact list.
How to Choose Invoice/Billing Software
You want to get paid, right? Invoicing software makes the process of getting paid much simpler and more professional. But invoicing goes well beyond payments. It also plays a role in your taxes and tracking revenue.
Look for invoicing software that gives you a way to automate parts of the payment process while simultaneously gathering data. Some software programs can even analyze expenses to tell you where the business can save money. It comes in really handy if you need to track a high volume of invoices or you have clients that are billed monthly. You can set up the billing software to send an invoice to a client on a specific day each month.
This is one piece of software you’ll be glad you invested in when tax season rolls around, but it also makes day-to-day financial management much easier.
How to Choose Payroll Software
Another type of software used in accounting is for payroll purposes. Like billing software, payroll software helps you balance the books by simplifying your largest expense – paying employees.
Most software gives you the ability to set up recurring payments, which is perfect for salaried employees. The program you choose should also help calculate payments for hourly workers by syncing with a timeclock or scheduling program. Another feature to look for is direct depositing. It’s an option most employees prefer and you don’t have to worry about signing and cutting checks every few weeks.
On top of all that, there are payroll software programs that can help business owners use this data to improve their workforce. Owners can determine which employees are most productive and bring the most value to the company. They can also see if the hours are balanced among employees and if overtime is costing more than bringing in a new hire.
There are a lot of business software options, but most are highly specialized. Carefully weighing your options is worth the time that’s invested. The wrong piece of software could be an expensive waste of money, but the right software could have a huge return.
Start with the software above to begin using business intelligence to your advantage.