You might be familiar with the psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s concept of ‘thinking fast versus thinking slow’.
‘Thinking fast’ is making snap judgements that are unconscious, emotional, instinctive and sometimes biased. ‘Thinking slow’ is conscious, deliberate and often more rational.
You might assume that allowing yourself time to make a decision leads to better decision-making. While refusing to make snap judgements is one method of reducing the number of bad decisions you make, it does not always mean you will make the right choice.
I firmly believe that the quality of decisions relies on the completeness of your data. How quickly you can access your data defines the speed at which you can make good decisions.
The problem: Businesses have too many data sources
When it comes to making decisions, leaders often want all the information they can get. The more data they have, the better they can make informed decisions. However, I have spoken with many leaders that find it difficult to gather as much data as possible due to the sheer number of sources in their tech stack.
How did this problem arise?
Data warehouses came about to help us bring multiple data sources together, analyse the data sets, and make the right decisions. Since then, the number of data sources has spiralled out of control. IDG concluded in 2019 that the average enterprise was using more than 400 data sources to inform decision making. In 2022, this problem has only worsened.
Why? A lot of businesses have too many siloed data sources. These systems often exist within departments and for specific purposes. For example, the marketing department has a CRM system for customer data and an ERP for enterprise data. Then, the sales department might have another CRM with the customer data they collect.
With each source disconnected, it becomes difficult for one department alone to gain a holistic and accurate view of the data.
These data sources create a lot of noise that drowns out the data you need (and the data that matters). It becomes challenging to identify what is important and what is not. As a result, people might make poor decisions they could have avoided if they had data integration.
Integrated systems deliver cohesive data from the sources you need to support decision-making in three ways.
1. Connected business systems fuel decisions
Systems integration resolves data silos by getting data moving in the right directions to create a shared consciousness. It shares data from the Customer Service business unit with Marketing and vice-versa. If you are not using a system of integrated data sources, you are probably not getting a complete picture of your business.
Integrated systems speed up the decision-making process. When you have the relevant information in one place, it is easier to make decisions, fast. A simple example of this would be business intelligence around financial forecasting across business units.
One of our customers has over 300 stores in Australia. The purchasing and sales information needed to be centralised and copied into their forecasting system to forecast the financials accurately. Whilst they previously were able to get this data once a month, the need to respond more rapidly to trends and issues (like COVID drastically affected normal purchasing trends by their customers). Given the rapidly changing landscape, they needed daily (or even more frequent) forecasting reports to suitably respond and maintain customer expectations for stock availability and the best price points.
Using Systems Integration and an iPaaS platform (SiPHON), we connected their store transaction systems with the head office financial systems. They can now make accurate and timely forecasting decisions, thanks to near real-time data synchronisation.
Systems integration also improves communication between company departments. By connecting the systems leveraged by each department, you can ensure everyone is on the same page and has access to a clear flow of information.
By making it easier to access data and communicate with different parts of the organisation, you can make better decisions, respond more quickly to customer needs, and resolve problems effectively.
2. Paint a holistic picture of your customer
You can gather a holistic picture of customer data to better understand your customers' needs and provide them with a personalised experience. In industries where user experience is essential, systems integration unlocks growth opportunities and the ability to support profitable customer relationships.
Properly done, systems integration combines your business applications to deliver a 360-degree view of your customers. It brings together all of your data on each customer, such as their details and previous purchases. Suppose you know a customer has shown interest in a product advertised on multiple channels. You can focus on providing a personalised experience for them based on this product.
Integrated systems also make it easier to share data with other departments to leverage customer data for decision-making. Your marketing department might collect data on the product advertisements where customers have shown the most interest. The product fulfilment team can then leverage this data to order more of a particular product and meet predicted demand.
3. Business analytics tools
If you struggle to make sense of your data, it could be due to a lack of systems integration. The correct answer becomes unclear when you have data coming in from silos. Systems integration consolidates your data and provides the tools for delivering robust business analytics to help you focus on critical data and make better decisions.
Business analytics examines past performance and current trends to make informed predictions. You can then leverage this information to support decision making in all business areas. There are two primary types of business analytics:
- Predictive analytics draw together information from each of your systems to suggest the best course of action.
- Prescriptive analytics suggest how you might respond to such changes.
Systems integration puts data at your fingertips in the places where you need it. With the right business analytics tools in place, you can access timely and accurate data points that help enable more profitable business decisions. In particular, business analytics can help forecast future sales and revenue so you can plan marketing campaigns and make pricing decisions.
How Creative Folks supports systems integration
When we work with customers who need their systems talking to each other, we look at their applications, the underlying services these applications offer, and then overlay that with their strategy, goals and initiatives. Our expertise lies in understanding your ecosystem, highlighting the possibilities, presenting the options and deploying the right solution - in the right order - for you.
Visit our Systems Integration page for more on our capabilities.