Unit4 ERP application provider has recently announced they have refocused its ERP product –calling it the People Experience Suite.
“Our entire software suite will be cloud-native from the ground up,” said CEO Mike Ettling. “And this means more fully integrated software that runs more intuitively and seamlessly for the people who use it — better uniting the enterprise and connecting the needs of the business with the needs and interests of the people who power it.”
The change in focus is the company’s effort to make user experience an integral part of the Unit4 platform. The greatest benefit of the People Experience focus comes from the Unit4 People Platform, which delivers the tools and capabilities for making Unit4 applications self-driving, adaptive and intuitive, intelligently automating administrative tasks and allowing non-IT specialists to change, grow and configure services through localisations and best-practice models.
“It’s about building success through the experiences not just of employees, users or customers, but about improving the experiences of everyone who touches our customers’ ecosystem. That’s what we mean by People Experience.”
ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning particularly for service industries, at its core, is an effective way of centralizing information and workflow processes through data management. The right ERP approach can create the transparency a service company requires. ERP for service industries can help control projects, tasks and engagements more effectively. Unit4’s ERP software also comes equipped to cover modules for Financials, Procurement, Project Management, HR and Payroll and Field Service Management. These functions include back-office workflows that can be effectively connected to other systems at the front end. For example, a purchase order might come in, and the ERP system could automatically pull that information to inform accounting practices.
Ultimately, ERP is a solution for a variety of tasks. By integrating these different components, ERP can streamline and automate workflows and data collection to reduce human error and increase revenue.
The challenges of data integration
With a cloud based ERP system however it is centralizing data from each of the departments, and acts like a snapshot of the organisation which can then be analysed and acted upon accordingly. The ‘people’ capabilities of Unit4’s ERP system is primarily aimed at improving and speeding business processes.
But what of Unit4’s own marketing efforts and customer engagement?
Having the right data and access to the right type of data can make or break marketing efforts. That’s why there is so much time talking about the value of first and third-party intent data—providing better customer engagement, more effective content personalization, more efficient outreach, and more.
Finding ways to integrate data properly can make a significant difference in business results. Aberdeen’s research into the topic found that companies using data integration solutions see 9% higher operating profits and 8% increases in the customer bases year-over-year.
With all these different data sources contributing very valuable yet very different information, the need to allow access to all of them simultaneously is becoming more and more pressing. To get access and control over all the different types of data is quite a challenge even with a Cloud based ERP system.
The right type of data for customer communications
The majority of useful data however that can be used for personalized communications in marketing is coming from ‘unstructured data’ emanating from social media, website visits, blog posts, call centre posts etc which cannot be extracted easily for analysis from internal data sources such as that from an ERP. ERP data is highly structured and even when integrated with a CRM system it does a very good job of recording a customer’s interactions with an organisation in a highly structured and regimented way. The data recorded about each customer in such systems has to be ‘structured’ because a CRM tool contains predefined fields which necessarily impose structure.
When insight from unstructured data is made available in CRM tools however, it gives the competitive advantage for sales, marketing and customer service reps to optimize their conversations with prospects and customers using interest and intent data.
For Unit4 the question will be how they can make more use of their own data to engage more effectively with potential customers. ‘People experience’ alone will not ensure success in creating the right marketing and content to improve the ‘customer experience’. The emerging technology of ‘content analytics’ presents an innovative way to capitalize on the data held on prospects and clients, and could be used by Unit4 to deliver a predictable and profitable pipeline of new business.
Unit 4’s own marketing will need ‘content analytics’
The latest content analytics tools are easy to integrate and can automatically analyse customer interests and needs at scale to provide useful insight to predict the next step content in the buyer journey.
Companies such as Idio are already excelling with B2B tech organisations to provide exciting new shifts in customer engagement. By analyzing customer content consumption at scale and automatically processing ‘unstructured data’, companies are able to understand the emerging needs and interests of buyers as they do their research. The ‘intent data’ can be placed back into a CRM or ERP system as structured data, which allows personalized content or to be placed next in the buyer journey. In addition sales reps and customer service operatives can be far more personalized in their communications with the client. The more that is known of a buyer’s interests and needs, the more that messaging and communications can be tailored to meeting buyer pain points.
While ERP systems continue to evolve, for tech companies behind them, marketing integrations to cover content analytics will be of benefit to the bottom-line.