Imagine your old, reliable car that used to get you everywhere. Over time, it starts sputtering and struggling to keep up with the pace. Likewise, the outdated B2B systems that were once the backbone of your operations are now at risk of becoming breeding grounds for inefficiencies—becoming data silos. The solution? A strategic approach to B2B data integration and its enterprise-wide enablement.
That's where this guide comes in. Consider it your roadmap to an integrated and future-proof B2B tech stack. With a strategic look at everything from breaking down data silos, choosing the right integration methods, and refining workflows, to understanding data warehouses and CRM's role in business expansion. And all with one goal in mind: to emphasize the vital need for high-quality data and standardization. The aim? To empower savvy B2B organizations to unlock and harness the true power of their data.
Outdated Systems Creating Data Silos
Many B2B companies have systems that just don't communicate with each other. These systems, important for business operations, create information silos within the organization. This is why GTM teams often find themselves buried in CSV files instead of leveraging cutting-edge B2B data integration solutions.
In fact, about 80% of B2B companies are still running on systems that are a decade old, barely keeping up with today's business needs. This lack of system integration leads to major headaches. Data entry becomes a tedious task across multiple systems, manual labor to gather information skyrockets, and the visibility of data across organizations plunges. Research even suggests that employees spend roughly 30% of their time just finding information across different systems.
On top of this, data silos block a holistic organization-wide view of critical data. Key business information is locked within departmental silos, blocking an organization-wide view. Without company-wide B2B data integration decision-makers mostly stay in the dark about their own operations and customers. For example, support teams might not have access to account history or current sales deals. That makes providing good customer service much harder. This lack of coordination often leads to less satisfactory customer experiences and missed opportunities.
As legacy systems continue to age, the costs of maintaining and customizing them skyrocket, eating into IT budgets. However, solving a B2B data integration through systemreplacement is a huge undertaking—it's costly and risky. As a result, many companies find themselves stuck with outdated technology.
The shift to modern, cloud-based software offers a way out. By tackling the data silo issue head-on, B2B organizations can streamline processes, boost data connectivity, and meet the evolving needs of the digital landscape.
Choosing the Right B2B Data Integration Approach
In the world of modern SaaS applications and outdated legacy systems, B2B companies have a menu of options when it comes to integrating their tech stack. It's about choosing what suits your needs best.
- Application programming interfaces (APIs): These have become quite the favorite. They offer B2B data integration through real-time data syncing and flexible integration capabilities. That said, they do require some technical expertise for construction and upkeep. Also, unlike dedicated integration platforms, APIs may not come equipped with monitoring and management features.
- Extract, transform, and load (ETL) tools: These are like the delivery guys of data—they move data between systems using pre-built connectors and transformations. ETL allows automated batch data integration on a schedule. However, ETL works on periodic syncs, so data may become stale. Also, ETL might not be as flexible as API integration for specific logical requirements.
- Enterprise service buses (ESBs): Consider ESBs as the switchboards of information—they route messages between applications using adapters and orchestration. ESBs greatly simplify B2B data integration as they add and change connections between systems seamlessly. However, ESBs’ simplification of integration logic can introduce overhead and potential bottlenecks.
Before deciding, assess your connectivity needs. If real-time data is a must, APIs are your go-to. For high-volume batch transfers, lean towards ETL. And if you need complex orchestration and routing, ESBs should be your B2B data integration choice. Also, factor in the financial side—APIs and ETL have clear licensing models, but ESBs might require extensive customization. Start with a solution that fits your current needs and then scale as you grow.
On top of that, there’s a variety of third-party B2B data providers to inform your outreach strategies. Check our list of top selected vendors to source B2B customer data from.
Improving Workflows for Seamless B2B Processes
When system integration falls short, workflows suffer, causing major bottlenecks in B2B processes. Inconsistent data flow across sales, logistics, finance, and other departments leads to a slowdown. The remedy is surprisingly simple: optimize workflows between departments to create seamless B2B processes.
One area of B2B data integration efforts worth focusing on is aligning CRM and ERP systems to get sales and finance on the same page. By allowing CRM data on quotes and sales orders to mingle with ERP transactional data, companies can bring down order-to-cash cycle times. Studies show that improving handoffs between sales and finance can speed up cash conversion cycles by 3-5 days on average.
On the sales automation front, integrating CRM and sales engagement platforms can significantly enhance sales productivity and boost win rates. A prime example of such a B2B data integration move is Outreach, a SaaS company that collaborated with a client to streamline its sales processes. By integrating their CRM system with their sales engagement platform, the client experienced a 30% reduction in sales ramp time and a 25% improvement in win rates. This integration empowered sales representatives with valuable insights into prospects, enabling them to automatically track all interactions, including calls, emails, and SMS. By such B2B data integration the sales team managed to personalize their communication effectively, resulting in increased sales success and overall performance.
Aside from B2B data integration, revisiting and redesigning processes and workflows can pay off. Simplifying approval workflows and eliminating unnecessary steps can greatly streamline cycles. For instance, a major agribusiness company managed to boost invoice processing time by over 40% by taking this approach.
Cross-functional teams play a vital role in identifying these bottlenecks and redesigning processes. By bringing together minds from sales, finance, marketing, and IT, companies can map and optimize workflows across departments. Training programs ensure employees are up to date with integrated systems and new workflows.
Read our practical guide on Marketing and Sales alignment, where we share some advice on synergizing collaborative work.
When B2B processes are fragmented, both efficiency and customer satisfaction take a hit. However, by strategic B2B data Integration , and streamlining workflows across departments, companies can reach nearly 40% reductions in cycle times.
Planning for Growth with Data Warehouses and CRM
For B2B companies eyeing growth, where consolidated data resides is a critical decision. Typically, this boils down to a data warehouse or a CRM like Salesforce. Each has its pros and cons regarding B2B data Integration, especially when it comes to scalability.
CRM centralizes data for easy use but might lag in robust ETL and scalability. Data warehouses, on the other hand, excel in storage and analytics but may fall short in meeting real-time data needs.
Companies typically adopt one of two B2B data integration strategies:
- Use CRM as the hub for customer data and integrate other sources like ERP. CRM data is then sent to the warehouse for analysis.
- Establish a warehouse as the central repository and synchronize data between the warehouse and CRM using ETL.
Regardless of the approach, the key is to consolidate data, maintain its quality, and sync systems. This gives you a "single source of truth" accessible across your technology stack.
Maintaining High Data Quality
B2B data comes from multiple systems and third-party sources, often leading to inconsistencies and errors. Poor data quality can result in inaccurate reporting, operational inefficiencies, and poor decision-making. To avoid this, businesses need to implement robust master data management (MDM) and data governance techniques.
MDM paints a unified picture of essential business figures like customers, products, and suppliers. It establishes a “golden record” for each entity that serves as the single, trusted source of truth. MDM employs methodologies like probabilistic matching to link related records and data stewardship workflows to merge, clean up, and enrich data. A clear indicator of its value, 75% of businesses report a significant boost in data accuracy thanks to MDM.
Data governance, on the other hand, establishes standards and controls to improve data quality. It helps create a comprehensive data governance program with clear roles and policies, ensuring accountability. Some key governance processes include:
- Data profiling to hunt down problems like missing values, outliers, and inconsistencies
- Setting policies for data entry validation and standardization
- Automated data cleansing routines to format, match, and deduplicate records
- Data monitoring to constantly measure quality KPIs like completeness, conformity, and accuracy
- Issue escalation and root cause analysis to deal with persistent data issues
The results are clear: with good governance, B2B organizations have been able to improve data accuracy by over 20% and data completeness by 34%. For the greatest impact, data quality initiatives should focus on high-value master data which is often used in core B2B processes.
As for third-party data quality, we’ve highlighted prime requirements that must be considered before you choose a B2B data provider.
In conclusion, while the fragmented landscape of B2B data presents challenges, there's huge potential in tackling them. By choosing the right B2B data integration approach, improving workflows, managing scalability, ensuring high data quality, and adhering to uniform data standards, B2B companies can harness the power of their data. This can drive business growth and keep them competitive.
Remember, the basics of B2B data integration strategy n isn't just about upgrading technology; it's about using the data within your organization effectively. For B2B organizations wanting to succeed in the digital age, having an integrated, high-quality, and consistent data environment isn't an option—it's a requirement.
Why Primer is a Go-To Solution for Your B2B Data Integration?
At Primer we are on a mission to help great companies meet their future customers when those customers need them. We believe the world will get more spammy before it gets less. But in the next few years, more and more businesses will base their go-to-market around a much more data-driven view of their best-fit customers.
They’ll analyze how those companies became customers, the attributes of those companies, the events/milestones in their journey and they’ll reverse engineer their way into reaching the **truly ideal** customer profile. In order to do this, they need to unify their data. And we’ll help them along the way. Check out the live demo to learn exactly how Primer works.