ERP Industry News Roundup

November 26, 2015

We thought we would do a roundup of a few of the top ERP news stories over the past few weeks that caught our eye.  Here is our ERP news roundup.

C24 News ERP


Cloud or nothing

Firstly, Forbes reported that many people find the headache of upgrading or implementing newer versions of their ERP systems (and the associated customizations that go with it) so painful that they decide to remain with their existing software rather than change.

However despite this reticence to change, Gartner reports that alternative procurement models to on-premise licence purchases now account for more than half of new software deployments.  Maybe this suggests that when companies are electing for change on their ERP systems, they are moving to cloud or SAAS platforms.

Read the full article here.



Oracle’s Cloud Solutions for Manufacturers

Oracle has announced that it has released the industry’s first new software as a service product for the manufacturing industry in years with the introduction of its Manufacturing Cloud solution.

Oracle has said its new solution will enable the design of manufacturing processes and standards, management of work orders and the monitoring of shop-floor status – all delivered as a service rather than an on-premise licence.  Manufacturing and warehouse management solutions have traditionally involved large scale purchases of expensive onsite software licences that require chunky hardware to maintain and run the applications.  Oracle’s plan to deliver more of these enterprise applications within the cloud mean that companies can start to diversify how they pay for and consume their applications depending on what makes the most sense for their business.

Despite the new announcement, analysts highlighted the fact that changing applications in this sector is usually triggered by a change in overall manufacturing equipment, which then requires a software upgrade.  This suggests the market is led more by the underlying manufacturing hardware systems rather than by the vendors bringing new and improved functionality to market.

Read more here.



Microsoft reorganising its ERP division

Microsoft has recently made changes to its Cloud and Enterprise business unit, bringing enterprise software teams closer to the cloud division.  It has moved around teams in order to bring its Windows Server, SQL Server, Dynamics CRM and ERP teams into the vendor’s cloud organisation, to hopefully encourage more cross-divisional sales of enterprise applications into the Microsoft cloud.

Microsoft is betting on its commercial cloud revenues soaring, which includes Azure and Office365, so is trying to better integrate the range of enterprise applications that businesses can purchase through its cloud solution.

Are companies ready to put all of their enterprise app eggs into the Microsoft cloud basket?

Read the article in full here.



ERP: Departmental or just IT?

A recent study has found that despite ERP affecting many different departments and often sitting within the control of the manufacturing and production teams, 80 percent of business leaders deferred to their CIO or IT leaders for advice and strategy about moving ERP functions to the cloud.

This is perhaps the opposite of what can be seen in other departments where cloud often enables departments to circumvent IT in order to deploy a new application or service.

In reality, changing such a business-critical application such as ERP should involve all stakeholders, especially if the ERP system is highly integrated into other periphery tools and data vaults across the organisation.

The research also highlighted that 60% of companies are concerned about their dependence on an external vendor when choosing a cloud solution, yet 53% recognise that the scalability offered by cloud solutions is one of the key benefits for ERP deployments.

Read the full press release here.



Highly sensitive: Highly cloudable?

Verizon have published their State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud 2016 report which suggests that companies are now becoming more open to transitioning ‘highly sensitive’ workloads to the private cloud (which Verizon terms as a private cloud within a hosted datacentre, not on premise).

The report goes against Gartner’s wider prediction that hybrid cloud was still some way off being a mainstream method of IT resource consumption for enterprises.

The full article in Computer Weekly is available here.




Image courtesy of Mick Baker Rooster.

Data: Moving from Ordinary to Visionary

November 17, 2015



Management information reporting is pretty standard now in all companies – after all, if the management team don’t know their key financial data points then there are probably more important concerns to focus on than how to integrate data analysis into other parts of the business.

Management information (MI) can span across the finance and operational departments, looking at staff KPIs, attendance records and revenue positions.  MI reporting can pull in data from the transaction processing systems, e-commerce platforms or financial applications – to give a view of the overall health of the business.

Business intelligence looks at taking this structured, often static information and making it more valuable and wider in its perspective.  Financial information can be combined with other data sets to provide insights that benefit not just the executive and financial teams, but also marketing and sales divisions to help drive their activities.

Moving from the ordinary to the visionary is about how to take management information and make it into business intelligence. 


How can information be continually made more valuable?

Business intelligence programs seek to amalgamate all of a business’ data into one system, in order to be able to cross-reference trends for deeper analysis.

Many tools now exist that can mine text across petabytes worth of documents to make data retrieval quick and easy – such as mining through emails to see how many times certain products were mentioned across a set period of time to determine potential product issues or popularity trends.

Text mining can be particularly helpful for support departments in reviewing and improving their operations.  Being able to mine the text of thousands of support calls enables management to better spot problems or identify breakdowns in support.  Once these issues can be identified (or a process for identifying issues has been formulated) then trend analysis can be utilised to spot ‘triggers’ to certain scenarios – such as an internet provider’s support calls may rise during bad weather at weekends when more people are surfing the net rather than braving the outdoors.  This could lead the internet provider to recruit more staff at weekends dependent on weather forecasts to reduce call waiting times when lines are particularly busy.

Business intelligence (BI) activities involve the collating of historical data, real-time data and future predictive analytics.  BI doesn’t just look at one set of static data, it combines data from different timeframes and scenarios to build a more accurate picture of the business through information.

For instance, a law firm we work with is looking at how they can combine all of their CRM data (which is relatively static on one level, but fluid in content at another level as new sales opportunities are inputted), with their prospect marketing database (such as e-mail distribution lists, e-mail tracking software data and event attendance).  Layered on top of this information will be data flowing in from their social media platforms, primarily LinkedIn and Twitter, in order to build a more holistic view of their business development activities.  Once this information is centralised, it is then easy to delve into trends such as uncovering the percentage of prospects that are converted to customers each month, what percentage of new customers come from their prospect list, and what percentage come from other sources.  Based on this information, the firm can then predict what revenue values mining this list of prospects will potentially yield in the future (i.e. anticipated monthly new customer revenues).

This data could then be of interest to not just the marketing division but also the finance department, showing how business intelligence can create data insights that are valuable across multiple departments.  This in turn encourages more sharing of data between departments, as the potential for new insights means better information output for each division.

Finance and marketing divisions sit on fairly opposite sides of the business.  However, combining CRM data with key financial information would enable the business to work out a number of key insights which could help them to better understand how they do business and what their customer base looks like.

Being able to understand the average revenue position per customer would help you to identify whether the business has too many customers with low levels of spend or in fact too few customers, each with a precariously high (and potentially business-damaging) average level of spend each.

CRM information combined with financial data can help companies to understand churn rates across their customer base, and what this in turn costs the business when customers leave.  It can also help to identify operational costs per sale for each customer – does one customer incur higher expense claims across your employees?  Or is the geographical location of a certain customer significantly reducing margin levels due to high travel costs?

Without business intelligence, this management information and fluid marketing data would be kept separate within the business.  The data would be there, but the value would be missing.

Is your law firm marketing up to scratch? Let big data whip you into shape.

November 10, 2015

Whilst many businesses are now leveragingDeath_to_stock_communicate_hands_5 big data for management reporting, the real innovators are looking at how data can be used to drive revenue growth and improve marketing effectiveness.

Analytics solutions can be deployed across the entire organisation, but in the business development department, big data really comes into its own.

Most marketing efforts within law firms focus solely on the Practice Management System, extracting data about existing or prior clients.  But what about before a client becomes a ‘client’?  How is data about prospects and web visitors tied into existing client information?

Integrating data from business development activities such as email marketing campaigns with PMS information can deliver a holistic view of marketing campaigns; from pressing the ‘send’ button through to billing clients.

We were recently doing some planning about how big data can benefit marketing activities within legal firms and came up with a number of ways that big data can be employed for revenue generation.  Below are some examples of both where our clients are already using analytics and future plans for big data within their law firm.


Using big data throughout the marketing lifecycle


Developing Prospects

Firms are now recognising that data within the PMS system alone is not enough for developing a healthy pipeline, but often the two sets of data (pre-PMS and post-PMS) are kept separate whereas analytics can unify this information.

  • Google analytics data can be extracted and combined with existing CRM data to see if any particular web events prompted client action.
  • Email campaigns can be closely monitored throughout their lifecycle, right through to billing and ongoing customer relationship analytics.
  • LinkedIn analytics can be extracted to drive greater insights about prospects and how they are connected across your organisation.
  • Social media sentiment can be monitored to understand what your customers are saying about you, and what factors (posting frequency/type) result in the most interactions or followers.
  • Competitor data can be analysed; across news items, web feeds and social media streams in order to understand how other firms are going to market and performing in comparison with your organisation.


Working Within the System

Once a customer or prospect is present within your CRM or PMS system, then it is critical to understand how they engage with your marketing activities and interact with your firm as a whole.

  • Analytics can be used to run reports on what fields within your CRM or Practice Management Systems have not been completed or filled in to drive data best practice behaviour.
  • CRM and PMS databases can now be linked for organisation-wide visibility.
  • The efficacy of marketing campaigns can now be tracked to understand what delivers the most ROI, what resonates the most and what results in the most web traffic.
  • Different marketing tools can be linked together to create a single version of the [marketing] truth – spanning lead generation applications, call data, web traffic and CRM systems.
  • Gamification can be easily delivered to the sales force by creating visual and real-time dashboards of revenue performance to drive specific behaviours across your teams.


Managing the Existing Client Base

Revenue generation activities shouldn’t just be targeted at prospects and non-customers, business development analytics should be focused on existing clients and identifying areas to deliver more value to customers who are already purchasing from you.

  • Analytics tools can help you to create client portfolio heatmaps – quickly highlighting what clients purchase and don’t purchase from you by extracting data from the PMS platform.
  • By understanding where your clients are coming from, both in terms of demographics and sources of business, you can more effectively target marketing and sales activities. If the data shows that most of your business comes from referrals from other clients, then your email marketing campaigns may not be delivering worthwhile returns on investment to justify their cost.
  • Uncover trends about why clients leave your firm; what activities take place prior to a client leaving? Is there a series of steps recorded in your PMS system that could point to a support issue across your firm?
  • Better understand churn rates; how often clients leave your practice, how long they are clients for and the ratio of new to existing to lost clients, in order to better understand your business position.


The difference with many business analytics is that reporting can be done in real-time, which is critical for planning and executing marketing campaigns when time is of the essence.  Being able to quickly pull a report to understand who has opened your recent e-newsletter, then compare it against the number of new followers on LinkedIn versus how your firm is performing for overall social media followers that month, means you can change course on the fly depending on which marketing activity has proven most effective.

We know there must be many more ways that the firms we work with are starting to deploy analytics tools to their marketing functions – we’d love to hear of any suggestions!


To find out more about C24’s business analytics tool, Bi24, and how we work with law firms to deliver tailored analytics solutions then please visit us online at

C24 Publishes New Case Study for berg Solicitors

November 10, 2015

C24 has just published a case study detailing their specialist work within the legal sector, working with leading berglogo-newManchester law firm: berg Solicitors.

Read the full case study here about how we worked with berg Solicitors to deliver a new infrastructure platform and business analytics solution across their firm.

Win Better with Analytics

November 5, 2015

 How are sports teams using analytics to drive performance on the field?



We recently looked at how sports clubs and venues are driving more profitable business activities off the field, but what about how sports teams and athletes are using analytics to better their performance?

It really is eye-opening when you start looking into the multitude of ways in which sports clubs are starting to build analytics into their training sessions and matches.  One thing is for certain: analytics in sports is becoming so ingrained in day to day activities that its presence can only increase.  We are even seeing analytics coming through to the consumer level with Fitbit type trackers which are driving training behaviour through the delivery of analytics to our smart phone.

So just how are sports clubs employing analytics for better results?


Separate the best from the rest

Clubs are now utilising algorithms to not only help decide which players to purchase in the first place, but on which players to send onto the pitch based on a wide range of factors.

Historically, decisions about players may have been down to the coach and manager’s personal knowledge about an individual player’s strengths and weaknesses versus a particular opposing team.  However, as more data becomes available, more factors are tipping decisions in one direction or another.

Details such as player performance based on weather or pitch conditions are now starting to be taken into consideration.


Biometric data at a player level

UK football clubs are starting to invest in wearable technology, where sensors are placed in clothing to monitor field position and biotmetric data such as heart rate, hydration and distance covered during a match in order to deliver more holistic analytics.

Without this data, information about where a player spent most of his time on the field during a match would be purely anecdotal whereas now coaches can get real-time data about player positions in order to make decisions on the fly.

If the data is not collected in the first place, then it cannot be analysed and measured in order to spot important trends.  Without collecting the data and placing it alongside other data streams, how can a coach see what impact factors such as hydration levels or stadium capacity have on player performance?


Video analytics

It is now common for stadiums to have upwards of 8 cameras installed around the arena, whose core focus is on capturing information about the game – by analysing player performance during the pitch, locations, movements and general developments.  This is a huge amount of information to dissect (8 cameras recording over circa 3 hours of footage each) which means that having analytics is critical for getting a high level view of key events during the match.


Accuracy in umpire decisions

Analytics is playing a big part in helping umpires to be more accurate in their decisions, or at least to have a degree of data to back up their (sometimes controversial) rulings.

In tennis in the UK, we regularly see Hawkeye being employed to provide not only umpire decision clarifications but also analytics about player shot success rates.


Making sports safer

Clubs are now turning to analytics to make sporting events safer for their athletes, by tracking hydration levels, alongside trend analysis for injuries to predict when players should be brought off the pitch to best reduce the risk of injury.

Additionally, in sports such as rugby where there is a lot of physical contact, sensors are being employed to track how many knocks or high-impact contact situations occur to reduce the risk of serious personal injury to the player.


Individual performance improvement

Analytics can be utilised in sports to drive small performance increments at the individual athlete level.  IBM helped ultracyclist, David Haase, in his 2015 Race Across America, to look at the best times based on historical data for him to sleep and rest – due to headwinds and tailwinds.  This helped to make his time spent cycling more efficient, and without this simple piece of data, he would have used much more energy trying to cycle in less than optimum conditions.  As David Haase himself put it, previously, he just relied on “fitness and luck”.

In the field of swimming, athletes are utilising on-body sensors to track each component part of their training to make small efficiencies, such as monitoring stroke technique or kick frequency.  Small changes at this level can make the difference between finishing a few seconds ahead of your competitors.


The amateur athlete

One interesting point is that big data hasn’t just started with the large, multinational clubs and filtered down slowly to the public, there is in fact a two way trend taking place where consumers are tracking their own personal fitness at an individual level; relying on data and analytics to deliver better insights into their training regimes.  Technologies such as Fitbit are now delivering in-depth analytics across sleep, exercise, activity and nutrition to help amateur athletes track their progress and make improvements.


only listed a handful here.  From Nascar drivers using sensors to Olympic athletes employing “data not doping” to drive huge performance increases, analytics is becoming central to every training session and live sporting event.



Image courtesy of Melodie Mesiano.

Using Data Analytics Throughout Your Sales Process

November 3, 2015

7934039676_1463c51846_kA 2013 study by the Aberdeen Group found that one of the key challenges to meeting sales goals was insufficient or inadequate information available.  To put that into perspective: the time, skills and resources were readily available, but the information wasn’t appropriate.

Data analytics really comes into its own when applied to the sales process – and the payoff is usually quick and highly tangible.  After all, if the data project uncovers new leads, then that will (hopefully) mean more revenue coming through the door.

So how can data analytics be applied to your sales process for better results?


Uncover more prospects

Sometimes we think we have exhausted our prospect list once CRM has been trawled or spreadsheets have been thoroughly reviewed, however many prospects (by their very nature of being a ‘prospect’ and not yet a ‘customer’) exist outside of these reports.

A good idea, in the age of social media, is to look at the followers of your competitors on LinkedIn and Twitter and drill down into the detail to determine if these are useful prospects for you to target also.  For even more ideas of prospects, have a look at who your competitors are choosing to follow, and reconcile this against your own followers to find the ones who are not on your list, but are on your competitors’ lists.  FollowerWonk allows you to compare followers for up to three companies, and separate users who are on one list, but not another.

Additionally, look inside your own organisation’s contacts; who within your organisation is connected to your target prospect on LinkedIn and can they facilitate an introduction?  Some BI tools can help with automating this process.


Find out how your marketing campaigns are linking up with your sales opportunities.

Are you able to quickly see which marketing campaigns have been successful within your accounts?  And if so, which messages resonated the most with which contacts across your customer base?  This information helps you when going back into customers with new messaging or products and ensures you are targeting the correct people with the most appropriate solution.

Often, analytics exists at the CRM level to show data about existing customer activity, but extracting the information out of CRM and combining it with non-CRM data such as info coming in from other marketing tools (for instance, Mailchimp, email tracking software, event invites) – gives you a broader view of the prospect to paying customer journey.

On the content side, are you able to pinpoint how often your prospect and clients are interacting with your company’s content and marketing collateral online, or is this unknown?


Identify your key statistics

Sales is a numbers game, in terms of revenue but also statistics.  Understanding your key statistics helps you to understand which areas of your sales process are particularly strong and which areas require further improvement.

Here are a few basic sales process ratios/statistics that are key to understanding:

  • Pipeline to closed deal ratio
  • Pipeline to qualified deal ratio
  • Win/Loss analysis
  • Lead conversion ratio

Some CRM reports can show this information, however you may need to integrate a range of marketing tools to really understand the wider prospect to client conversion picture.


Understand where you spend your time

HBR found that 61% of sales reps thought that greater sales intelligence would deliver better lead quality and quantity – therefore resulting in more time spent actively selling.

Sales people tend to think that they spend a lot of time selling, when in fact they may be spending as little as one day a week interacting with customers and the rest of the time chasing quotes, researching new products or developing new leads.  Using data to track how you are spending your time can help you to recognise where you could be cutting down on inefficient admin processes and could instead be working directly with customers on revenue generating opportunities.


Find out where your customers are coming from

Every sales person should be finding out where each lead came from in order to check for trends that can be capitalised on.  For instance, if your last 3 most profitable leads all came from one event, then you know to focus your efforts on attending again next year.  Or perhaps you recently won business from two customers who both work with one of your mutual technology partners, then it might be worth scheduling a joint account planning session soon.

In larger companies, there is often a multitude of marketing activities occurring which sales people are never privy to.  Having a good understanding at any one time about which customer contacts attended an event, received a telemarketing phone call or interacted with your company on social media, means you are better placed to take the next step with your client.


Keep up to date with information about your customers

Sales reps often find that a huge amount of their time is dedicated to researching customer information and news developments about their target industries.  This is costly in terms of time for the sales rep, and costly in monetary terms for the vendors – as precious face to face selling time is overshadowed by research activities.

Analytics tools can help to deliver the right information to the sales reps as and when they need it; whether that is news content, previous spend history or social media activity feeds.  Sometimes these tools can deliver timely info directly to your inbox to enable better conversations with your prospects.

Having access to better data about your customer when engaging means that you can personalise your marketing and sales content to meet your particular customer’s needs or situation.  Companies that personalise customer information down to sales rep level (i.e. creating specific marketing and sales content at a sales rep level) have been known to achieve a 36% increase in lead conversions.  Being able to adapt the data to different customer profiles, and also customer contact profiles (roles, seniority, interests, motivators) will ensure that you have a more targeted and focused approach to your prospecting.

Without automated analytics, this task would be cumbersome and time-heavy.  With an analytics tool, you can create reports and automate activities (such as sending news feeds straight to your email), that will allow you to build customised reports for sales reps that can be read in a matter of minutes rather than spending hours each week keeping up to date on customer news.


Understand your engagement cycle

The mere act of implementing an analytics tool starts to drive behaviour; resulting in your different teams considering how data and trends can be extracted from each activity.  Recording how you are interacting with customers at each stage of the buyer journey, from lead generation and prospecting to qualifying and negotiating.

Analytics helps to track progress and success criteria at each buyer journey stage, for instance, how many customers dropped out of your pipeline at stage X compared to stage Y?

Once data is available to track and analyse, you can then start to incorporate gamification into your sales processes to drive more competition between sales reps to achieve.  For example, many companies now use team dashboards and leadership boards to chart each sales rep’s performance, mapped against the other team members’ achievements.

Furthermore, once facts and figures have been collated, the information can then be used to create benchmarks across the organisation.  Without having access to the data, you wouldn’t be able to spot trends between different sales rep activity, such as how many meetings per week resulted in the most number of sales that month.  Being able to record and track this kind of data allows you to create company benchmarks, and then also compare these figures to industry averages to chart your performance.



The first step is collecting data across all points possible.  Before collecting data, it is often impossible to be able to imagine the range of insights you are able to collect.  You may start out with a good idea of what data points you would like to understand (i.e. win/loss ratios) however it is only when you see what data is available to you that you are able to delve further to drive real insight.  For instance, we recently did some analysis on social media behaviour across legal firms and uncovered that the firms with the highest number of followers posted the most tweets per day.  When we set out to do the research, we were only looking at variables such as how many followers each firm had compared to how many people they followed and their retweet frequency.  We hadn’t originally thought to analyse the post frequency until the data was in front of us and we were then able to uncover new insights and compare it against other data points in our research.

If you are interested in knowing more about how analytics could be utilised for sales and business development in the legal sector then read our posts on “10 Ways for Law Firms to Use Big Data” and “Using Analytics to Win Against New Competition”.


Image provided courtesy of Chris Potter.

Cloud ERP Trends *infographic*

November 2, 2015

C24 ERP Infographic by C24

C24 ERP Infographic by C24


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 908 other followers