Tianyi "TJ" Jiang is the CEO of AvePoint.
In this exclusive interview, CRM Buyer discusses with Jiang the future of information.
CRM Buyer: What are some trends that you've noticed in CRM?
TJ Jiang: The trends we see are part of the whole movement toward digitization of the workforce. We see much more integration and automation in the CRM space. We've been working, for instance, to digitize a social welfare organization, where caseworkers will go in the field to service underprivileged children. They interview the kids and talk with the foster guardians.
Historically, it's all been paper-based, and a caseworker would fill out paper forms and input the data. Now, before they walk into the conversation, they already have the case history, and as they interview, that data is sent in real time.
If the child is transferred to another school, all of their information follows them. It's an expansion from traditional sales to social welfare. It's cradle-to-grave case management -- providing social goods, whether it's schooling, education, assistance or job training.
CRM Buyer: How can businesses make sense of all the data they acquire?
Jiang: Organizations need to hire business intelligence analysts and data scientists who understand the business and the data. You have to make sure that the data is clean, that it makes sense. Ultimately, you have to take the lens of industry, and then use that lens to tease out the data and make it useful and predictive.
Still, it's a combination. I have yet to see any system that can be totally automated. There's no such thing. There are always consultants who have to look at the data, look for patterns, glean useful things, and then feed them back into the system. Once you have your data set up, you can crunch and compute like never before, much more real-time.
When I was doing my degree on data mining, we would do distributed computing, and we didn't have the cloud. That's really something that we can take advantage of today. We can build these solutions faster than ever before because of the cloud, but you have to make sure that it's not trash-in and trash-out. Someone is needed who understands the business and can analyze the data.
CRM Buyer: In what ways is the sharing of information important to effective CRM?
Jiang:. It's vitally important. It's all about innovation through collaboration. There's that real-time aspect of it, with social collaboration, project collaboration, and the co-authoring of documents. There are a lot of products that encourage not only sharing with the right security, but also collaboration.
If you can get the right set of people on the table, you can have better success through collaboration. There's always a balance. There's so much more data. You also have a lot more telemetry data, so many more people are using the applications and feeding data back in. Now that you have so much data, it's important to have effective tagging of that data, because you want to give the right people access to that data.
One of the powers of collaboration is to look at what you're working on and to recommend new documents. This document you're working on, for instance, might look like another proposal that someone else has worked on. That's a useful feature. However, many companies turn this off, because they're afraid of people knowing what their C-level executives are working on.
A lot of times, because we live in this very collaborative environment, people's jobs change frequently, and the security is not keeping up with reality. The type of document access becomes quite a problem. With the cloud, enterprises are looking at ways to have the proper control over what people can access.
In Germany, companies have no right to track what a person is talking about, even on a company's network. When you have something like that and you do analytics, you have to do some anonymization to protect security.
CRM Buyer: What's in the future for CRM and XRM? How do you see the field evolving and changing?
Jiang: The future is limitless. We've been working with the Institute for Migration, for instance, by helping their Asia headquarters create the first cloud-funded program for sex workers who are rescued and repatriated. That's XRM.
It's a cloud CRM system, and at the end of the day, there are all sorts of problems you can apply it to -- not just sales problems. Now the Institute of Migration is investing more funding. They want to increase the number of people they help, and every year the number increases. Once people start realizing how cloud technology can be implemented, the possibilities are limitless.