Companies have access to incredible ways to gather data and simplify achieving their goals, but without proper integration and effective ways to gain insights from it, the data is meaningless. Custom software should be used to effectively leverage your data. Today we’ll look at the importance of utilising custom software solutions to integrate customer relationship management platforms, such as Salesforce, accounting systems like Xero, and other data sources to retrieve easily accessible information to make better business decisions. We’ll start with a look at different sources of data, then the processing of merging all the information together. After that we’ll discuss visualisation of the data, and finally how the data can be used to make better decisions.

Sources of Data

Information comes from everywhere! Depending on what kind of company you are running, it could come from:

  • Internal communications such as emails
  • External communications including emails, customer calls, and social media
  • Industry and governmental organisations
  • Transactions
  • Vendors, Contractors, and Suppliers
  • Analytics programs
  • Market research
  • Accounting systems

We’ll look at what information we can get from each.

Internal Communications

Internal communications can be used to understand how the organisation interacts within departments, teams, or with outside people and companies. This data is more qualitative such as who works well together and who doesn’t. Utilising the information can help you place the right people together to get better results and avoid inefficiencies due to conflicts between people who don’t work together. To effectively use this data, there needs to be both team and individual metrics in place.

Useful Points collected:

  • People Involved
  • Strength of Relationship
  • Positive, Neutral, or Negative Interactions
  • Success of project(s)

External Communications

Customers and vendors will contact the company for a variety of reasons. We can learn a lot from what occurs in these interactions. These will typically come from three sources: emails, calls, and social media. The digital communications can be scanned easily for relevant information using web scrapers, while the phone calls need to be transcribed either by software or a person.

Useful data points collected:

  • Name
  • Contact Information
  • Address
  • Demographics
  • Common complaints
  • Common suggestions for new products/services
  • Employees that standout to the public

Industry and Governmental Organisations

Outside organisations are great sources of data. Industry groups tend to get information from most of the big organisations within the industry, while governments have data about the entire population of the people they govern. Because they have access to either a larger sample or the entire population of a statistical category their information is often more accurate. It is readily accessible through either a membership or free public access. Best part it can show historical trends and you don’t have to spend time doing the research yourself. You just interpret it.

Some useful data points collected from these organisations are:

  • Industry Benchmarks
  • Historical Trends
  • Regional Demographics
  • Regional Incomes


Transactions can be done through mobile apps, websites, phones, POS systems, or other methods. These are crucial to be able to measure customer value, but unless you have other methods of collecting data in place may be hard to tie to other data. This is part of the reason for membership cards and apps. Without information like name, phone number, and/or email address it can be difficult to tie data from transactions to other data collected. Once you have a match on at least Name and one form of contact it becomes much easier to track customer behavior.

Useful Data Collected:

  • Value of Purchases
  • Products Purchase
  • Amount Spent
  • How Purchase was made

Vendors, Contractors, and Suppliers

Vendors, contractors, and suppliers are part of what make every business run. Whether you need them for materials for your product or just to perform a one-time project, you are going to have to work with them.

They can be a tremendous source of data for your logistics because they offer data point such as:

  • Input costs
  • Lead Time
  • Shipping Charges
  • Expedited Charges

Analytics Programs

Programs such as Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel give information that its hard to get anywhere else. Google Analytics collects over 200 data points from each user, but the data is anonymous unless you have logins to track the user. Supposedly Facebook has managed to be able to collect and monetise over 5,000 data points. That’s an insane amount of data! In a study done with 70,000 Americans it was found that it only took 10 likes for algorithms to know you as well as a coworker, 70 for the algorithm to be your friend, and 300 to understand you better than your significant other  [1].

Interesting Data Collected:

  • Engagement on posts/pages
  • User actions
  • Demographics
  • Where your web traffic comes from.
  • The paths people follow in the buying process.

Given most of this is anonymous what it really tells you is whether you are targeting the right people. You may find you have target markets you never thought about.

Market Research

Market research is done when the information is not available to a company. This may be because they are launching a new product or service but may also be because they want to know specific information about how their clients view them. First you construct the survey taking care not to generate bias based on the questions, then get participants. Once the research is complete, then statistical analysis has to be performed It’s costly and should only be used when the data is available another way. Also be careful if hiring outside market research firms as some will manipulate data to meet their contract quotas.

The data market research generates is qualitative in nature and includes:

  • Demographics
  • Views on the subject

Accounting Software

All the other sources give us information about customers, vendors, interactions, and how everything operates, but accounting software, such as Xero, gives us information on how the company is performing financially. It can automate many of the processes involving the financial aspects of a business including quotes, invoicing, inventory, payroll, sales tax, and other data. The data in accounting software is critical to measure whether the objectives of the organisation are being met.

Accounting Software,  like Xero,  can provide information on:

  • Revenue
  • Cost of Goods Sold
  • Admin Expenses
  • Margins
  • Inventory
  • Payroll costs
  • Net Income
  • Basically everything you need to know about the company or department’s financial performance.

Data Analysis

Now you have all this information, but its from all kinds of different places. Have you ever tried to compare data from 5-10 different places? It’s not something most people enjoy.

If you want to analyse a customer, you need to merge the data from all the sources to have a comprehensive history of their interactions. This may require custom software to constantly automatically update the customer portfolio, but once you have grouped the data from all sources you should have a profile of the customer that includes their demographics, what they purchased, how they purchased it, how much it  cost us, how much they spent, how often they interact with your company, whether the interactions are positive, basically you know enough to understand how much the customer is the value of the customer to the organisation.

Once you have profiles of every customer created without having to manually merge it, you can use the anonymous data from google analytics, Facebook Pixel, and the accounting software to evaluate how they compare to our target audience. You can also compare them to demographics that are similar.  

Upon review of this, you see that the client is of a higher value than our target demographic, but a lower value than the median of their demographic.

Awesome! You just found a way to expand our target market!


Data Visualisation

Now that you have the data you want to compare, it needs to be easier to understand. You have software  display it as a bar graph where you can see the individual client value, the target market median value, and the client’s demographic median value. Now anyone who looks at it can see there is an opportunity to market to people like this client, but unless you are responsible for executive level decision making someone else gets to make that decision.

Hopefully when you share this discovery, it helps the rest of the organisation…

Make Better Decisions

You’ve collected data, grouped it all together to create a customer profile, and compared them to their demographic and our company’s target market. You found an opportunity to help the company achieve more through it’s business decisions, made it easier to understand, and presented it to the rest of the organisation. Everyone agrees you’ve found an opportunity. They ask you to create a plan and you agree. You walk out of the meeting basking in your success and think to yourself…

“I’m glad I contacted Flying Donkey IT to integrate our CRM and Xero with custom software utilising machine learning to notify me of opportunities we are missing.”

You wake up and think…

“I better call Flying Donkey!