5 Ways B2B Firms Are Using Technology to Unlock Business Intelligence

“CEOs who view their board as a valuable resource to tap into versus a group to be managed tend to see better performance and higher market valuations”, writes McKinsey & Company. The right technology can help B2B organisations to unlock that potential through greater business intelligence.

Board members juggle lots of plates: setting strategies, running their departments, and collectively delivering for shareholders. On top of this all, they must be effective leaders. In the B2B world, their challenges are many.

With so much to manage, meetings and other administrative tasks can hinder their ability to deliver real value. Imagine if there was a way to streamline those responsibilities, giving board members the tools and the data they need to perform better, make decisions faster, and achieve more?

“Boards seeking to play a constructive, forward-looking role must have real knowledge of their companies’ operations, markets, and competitors.”The Board Perspective’, McKinsey & Company

An organisation’s CRM system is one part of the puzzle. But the ‘Frankenstein’ systems on which many businesses still rely — amalgamations of legacy software, piecemeal platforms, and ad-hoc applications — deliver the opposite of this. As well as hindering forecasting and decision-making by siloing customer data and other important information in ‘data lakes’, they are clunky and inefficient to use. Nobody likes having to learn and keep up to date with multiple systems, each with their own set of security measures and login details. 

A unified platform solves this problem. How does it achieve this, and in what ways could your senior leadership team benefit from a system that speaks across your operations?

To help your sales and marketing leaders identify the business requirements that matter when scoping a new CRM, download our free CRM scoping template now.

5 ways B2B organisations are using technology to unlock business intelligence

1. More informed decision-making

Today, many of the insights on which decisions are made come from data. Effective B2B inbound marketing strategies depend on it. But the reasoning on which those decisions are made assumes that the data they use is accurate. It assumes that the data is relevant. And it assumes that the data tells the full picture.

In the case of many CRM systems in use today, these assumptions are flawed. Legacy platforms don’t always support the functionality required to gather, store, and maintain accurate information on all the areas required by the board to make informed decisions. 

In other cases, they don’t speak with the other systems in use across the business. The result is ‘data lakes’, pools of disparate information that in best-case scenarios prevent the full picture from becoming visible at the board level. At worst, they hold conflicting data, potentially leading to different decisions depending on the system being interrogated.

A unified platform solution solves this challenge by allowing the sharing and integration of data across the business. This prevents data lakes from forming and offers management a single source of truth from which they can create accurate, big-picture reports for the board. 

2. Bring the board together

The most effective boardrooms work together to solve for the business. But you only need to look at the traditional rivalry between Sales and Marketing to know that this isn’t always true.

"In this example, Marketing blames Sales for not progressing marketing-generated leads and ignoring the CRM. Sales blames Marketing for generating poor quality leads with no email addresses or other important details attached. Neither department receives feedback from the other, save for heated discussions in the boardroom. As time goes on, the company’s revenue-generating machine stalls.”

A unified platform solution helps to solve this challenge by integrating data across the business, so the whole board has visibility over the entirety of the customer lifecycle. Marketing and Sales can both see where leads are generated and what’s happening to them. Transparency improves across operations, and with it accountability. Most importantly, the conversation shifts from one of blame to the notion that the board is in it together.

Related reading: Marketing: The Middle Child In B2B Digital Transformation Strategies

3. Improve forecasting

One of the strongest business cases for better data management is improved forecasting. Recent times have proven that organisations can’t prepare for everything, but on matters such as revenue forecasting, pipeline health, and even key marketing metrics, forecasting allows business leaders to be proactive and make informed decisions with confidence.

In anticipating the future, forecasting looks to the past. Do your systems have the historical data in place to answer it? A unified platform solution solves this challenge by integrating data across the organisation, enabling more comprehensive reporting and better visibility over trends in everything from performance and seasonality to future revenue growth.

Further reading: Revenue Forecasting: The Perils, Pitfalls, and Solutions 

 4. Highlight risk

Every day the board walks a tightrope. Every decision is a balancing act. The ‘Frankensystems’ described in the beginning of this article — legacy systems bloated by the addition of third-party software and unwieldy integrations — increase business risk by virtue of being set up manually. Mistakes in setup or configuration can happen, never mind when regularly updating the swathe of applications and other platforms feeding the system.

  • Data may not carry across as intended or be stored where easily found.
  • It can duplicate or not be captured at all.
  • The process of report-writing slows down, even as the accuracy of said reports comes into question.
  • Effective decision-making becomes that much more difficult.

A unified platform can be depended upon to produce meaningful insights off the back of which risk can be calculated with confidence. It needs to be set up only once, after which point it can serve the data and reporting requirements of the entirety of the business. Some platforms, such as HubSpot, also support ‘Operations Hubs’ and CMS functionality, offering a truly comprehensive experience beyond Sales, Marketing, and Services alignment.

You might also be interested in: Is This Why Your B2B Marketing Strategy Isn't Working?

5. Empower the board

The decisions made by the board shape the future of the company. Yet it’s common for leaders to rely on second or third-hand information in the form of reports and other analyses. 

The many responsibilities constantly competing for their time make it difficult for them to interrogate the data themselves. Meetings and other administrative burdens are a further drain on their time, potentially limiting the value they offer and their effectiveness at leading. 

“CEOs who view their board as a valuable resource to tap into versus a group to be managed tend to see better performance and higher market valuations. That’s based on more than 20 years’ worth of data on 7,800 CEOs from 3,500 public companies across 70 countries and 24 industries.” ‘What separates the best CEOs from the rest?’, McKinsey & Company

A unified platform puts control back into the board’s hands. Accessing data becomes much quicker and simpler. Administrative tasks speed up, made faster through automation and the familiarity that comes with only having to learn and use one system.

The true value of the board’s experience, their business acumen, and their leadership is enhanced through their ability to work smarter, think faster, make better decisions and leverage their expertise by coaching their teams to excellence based on performance trends grounded in objective data.

Don't miss: How to Deliver Successful B2B Campaigns by Spinning HubSpot's Flywheel

Could greater business intelligence empower your board?

Today, lots of unified platforms provide the kinds of functionality described above. As an Elite HubSpot solutions partner, we’re naturally biassed towards the number one CRM for growing businesses. At time of writing, users of software comparison site G2 think likewise. Of course, you should research all options available before deciding which solution is right for your organisation’s needs. 

Whichever platform you eventually choose, upgrading to a unified solution will deliver immediate and long-term returns as your board — and the rest of the organisation — comes together around it to better understand the business and deliver more value. 

Technology is only one part of the puzzle, but it’s an important one. To unlock the full potential of your board and the wider business, start solving it today.

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To help your sales and marketing leaders identify the business requirements that matter when scoping a new CRM, download our free CRM scoping template now.  

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