It can be a challenge for executives to determine whether their businesses would profit more from implementing customer relationship management (CRM) software or business intelligence (BI) software. These types of software have common elements as well as noteworthy differences.

You can use both sets of tools to harness the power of available data and put it to work informing your business decisions and increasing your profitability. However, CRM and BI take subtly different approaches in achieving these goals. Let’s take a look at some of the key differentiating factors that could help you decide which type of software will best help you to meet the goals you’ve set for your business.


What’s the Purpose of the Software?


The Purposes of Customer Relationship Management Software

Customer retention and increased sales are two of the main objectives that CRM software can help a business to achieve. This software can help to optimize interactions between your staff and customers across all the major touchpoints that customers experience when moving through the sales funnel, from the initial marketing communications through follow-up support after a purchase is complete. CRM software functions to record a company’s commercial interactions with its customers; it allows staff to record and monitor possible selling opportunities, and it provides a system for automating sales channels and efficiently moving customers through the sales funnel. Essentially, this software enables you and your staff to maximize opportunities within the scope of your own existing business conditions.

The Purposes of Business Intelligence Software

Strategic intelligence assimilation and predictive analytics are two of the main objectives that business intelligence software can help with. BI software enables you and your staff to transform all your available data into usable, actionable insights that will help you grow profitability. Sophisticated BI software can actually interface with your CRM software and incorporate your customer relationship data into the resulting reports — but it doesn’t stop there.

Essentially, this software could help you and your staff to make informed decisions by looking at both internal business conditions and external information sources. It provides insights from outside your own business environment to facilitate predictions about what could happen next in your industry. Business intelligence can help you to understand broader market trends fueled by your competitors, other organizations, and the global marketplace.

Who Typically Uses the Software?

In times past, to make the most of the insights you’d gain from BI software, you typically had to solicit input from a talented operations research analyst with experience in your industry. These days, BI software like SAP’s Business Objects platform is making it viable for average employees to interpret the data. This is possible because of the presence of intuitive data visualization tools.

You’ll most likely want to delegate the monitoring of your CRM software to your sales and marketing staff. In most cases, they’re the team members with the best chances of maximizing the opportunities your CRM software can reveal.

Your Company Has the Option to Choose CRM Software, BI Software or Both

When it comes time to evaluate whether your business should implement a CRM system, a BI system or both, there is one important question to begin with: Which goals are you working to achieve? If your main goal centers on improving customer retention or maximizing sales to your existing customer base, CRM software will help you with that. If your primary objective is to keep ahead of trends in your industry, understand why your company’s profits are declining or formulate a strategy for remaining competitive in an ever-changing global marketplace, BI software will be a helpful addition to your company’s toolbox. It’s beneficial to implement both strategies if both types of objectives are important to you.

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