Customer data management (CDM) is essential for any company interested in attracting business, increasing sales, keeping existing customers and ensuring brand recognition. In other words, pretty much any business!
Small, medium or large, a business needs to keep track of its customers — not just their contact details or records of their orders, but their buying habits, and preferences. CDM solutions help companies manage and use their customer data, enabling businesses to identify customer behaviour and sales cycles. Additionally, they allow companies to identify their ‘best’ customers; CDM allows companies a 360° view of their customers and the way these customers interact with their business.
Using cloud computing to manage your customer data offers scalability and dramatically increased accessibility and mobility while also substantially reducing costs — a ‘no-brainer’ it would seem. So, is cloud computing the magic answer? Given that customer data management is essential to any business, whether it be a huge corporation or a small online business run from your basement, then it simply becomes a matter of how companies choose to organize and access this data. Cloud computing is generally promoted on the three-pronged approach of scalability, mobility/accessibility and cost savings.
A small business, in particular, may have an adequate customer data management system in place that serves its needs perfectly well — for now. However, when the business grows, it needs to consider a larger customer base, more staff members and increased orders or sales. The beauty of cloud computing is that its scalability makes it feasible for a business to take on cloud computing even while it is quite small. There is no longer any need to be concerned that the business will outgrow its current system and have to go through a costly and inconvenient upgrade at a later date.
Accessibility and mobility:
These are clearly linked together; not only can an infinite number of partners or employees be granted access to a company’s data, full or limited, as required, but they can access — and edit — that data even when they are away from the office. As more and more businesses find that their key people are either working remotely or frequently travelling or out of the office; mobility is key. Good cloud computing solutions allow access to a company’s database that can be password controlled, affording different employees different levels of access. InSite Systems, for example, offers customer data management solutions that are completely compatible with any mobile device.
The cost-saving potential of cloud computing is enormous; previously, companies needed servers with hosting contracts and had to pay for expensive software licenses; the hardware and software involved could add crippling costs to start-up businesses and could leave many small businesses using out-of-date software since they could not afford the constant upgrades. Cloud-based applications are user-friendly, allowing companies to save tens of thousands in IT technician salaries every year. Software upgrades are automatic and seamless and applications are available anywhere anytime.
Given all the advantages, the main concerns that business owners voice, when changing to cloud computing, have to do with security. Again, this should not be a problem. The initial security concerns have been thoroughly dealt with through improved technology. If anything, cloud computing makes your data more secure since it is hosted offsite. Even if your offices are totally destroyed by fire or natural disaster, your data will be accessible from any computer with an Internet connection.