Integrated Sales Data Provides Business Insights

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2015-05-29 Email Print this article Print
Data integration

Payment processing company Vantiv builds an integrated data source to gain strategic business insights, including a consolidated view of sales and results.

Getting sales teams and other groups in sync can be difficult. However, for fast-growing companies that are dealing with acquisitions and new data streams, the challenges are usually magnified.

One company that's taking direct aim at this issue is Vantiv. This payment processing and technology provider supports upward of 400,000 merchant locations and nearly 17 billion payment transactions that represent more than $610 billion in volume annually.

About a year-and-a-half ago, after acquiring a firm in the e-commerce space, "We realized that we needed a consolidated view of sales and results," reports Paolo Dominguez, vice president of product for Vantiv.

The good news was that both companies already used Salesforce to handle sales and CRM. The bad news was that the task required merging separate instances of data. The first attempt to build a consolidated data source—with the aid of an outside integrator—resulted in an unacceptable level of errors, problems and glitches.

"Unfortunately, the company we contracted with did not have the necessary expertise to handle the task, and it became an exercise in trial and error," Dominguez recalls. "We had to stop the integration because we were going in the wrong direction.

Meanwhile, Vantiv acquired two other firms, which complicated things even further. By that time, "We had started and stopped a couple of integrations," he says. "So we had some barriers to climb in order to boost confidence that we were going to get it right this time."

Mapping Out a Data Integration Plan

The company turned to Salesforce Professional Services and mapped out a more comprehensive plan for addressing data integration. Over a period of a few months, beginning in September 2014, Vantiv tackled the data integration challenge. In the end, the project tied together up to nine years of data from four primary sources.

The result? "We kicked off 2015 with a combined sales organization," Dominguez says. "We have one instance of Salesforce and a consolidated view we can use for forecasting. We can model different things and identify channel conflicts quickly."

In the past, sales representatives from the different groups sometimes approached the same prospective customers. That problem has been eliminated.

In addition, Vantiv can determine which sales group is best suited to approach particular businesses, as well as which products and services to pitch. Since the company's customer base ranges from mom-and-pop stores to the Krogers and Walmarts of the world, that's a valuable capability.

The sales teams now use iPads to tap into appropriate data within a sales cloud and show relevant product demos. "We are able to deliver greater value," he explains.

Vantiv is now looking to further leverage the technology and sales data. Dominguez says that the next step is to expand the menu of value-added services available to customers, including merchants and financial institutions.

"We are looking to take all that Salesforce data, package it and deliver it back to our partners," he says. The result will be a greater ability to partner with banks, point-of-sale vendors and others to create end-to-end solutions—and cross-pollinate leads.

"We now have rich data," Dominguez reports, "and we are able to engage in a more strategic and planned approach to business."

Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

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