I frequently speak with clients that leverage disparate systems across their business. They might have CRM and ERP systems that do not talk to each other, inventories for online and physical stores that lack alignment, or branch offices without access to the same information. The list goes on.
I saw disconnects like this with a customer of ours. They reached out to Creative Folks as they lacked alignment across their platforms and struggled with consolidating product information between their stores. Their large stores stocked a broad range of items, whereas their smaller ones only stocked a fraction of items. There was no way of knowing which stores stocked what in their systems. An online store added to the disconnect.
How did we help them consolidate these systems to bring consistency and accuracy to their business? With systems integration.
Systems integration brings together every platform across your company. It can change how you meet new customer demands, make decisions about your business strategy, and present new opportunities for innovation.
Five key benefits of systems integration
1. Efficient company processes
You likely have databases for customer information, product inventory (for a physical and online store), employee data, and other documentation. I speak with many companies that can recite a laundry list of systems they leverage every day.
Systems integration unifies these disparate systems and breaks down the data silos they create. Integrating information this way enables automated data sharing across each system, which improves the efficiency of company processes. For example, when a customer calls to follow up an order, the person speaking with them can view the customer and product information in one place without switching between two systems.
2. Improved productivity
Improving efficiency also improves productivity. Perhaps your team spends time manually switching between and updating two databases when managing customer information. Systems integration connects these disconnected databases and allows them to access data from each other automatically.
When people have access to the information they need, instantly, they can complete tasks faster. Automation will ensure your team spends less time manually transferring or converting the data collected in different systems, which reduces the time spent completing repetitive, unproductive tasks.
McKinsey found that workers spend 19% of their time searching for information they need to do their jobs.
Systems integration can greatly improve how you scale your business. As your company grows, integration (done the right way) provides a standardised platform for all departments and can be your foundation for building new products.
Scalability also relies on your capacity to handle changes in customer demands. Systems integration could be the key to ensuring you scale their expectations; it can help you deliver a connected customer experience and ensure you release new initiatives in sync with your current systems.
4. Data accuracy
Manual data entry not only eats up efficiency and productivity but can erode the accuracy of your data. I am sure you have received a spreadsheet or similar data format with a handful of errors because your colleague created it manually.
Systems integration removes the need for manual and repetitive data entry across disparate systems. Data accuracy ensures you have the right information for making business decisions, and people leveraging that data on a day-to-day basis can feel confident in its accuracy.
A 2017 study by Gartner found that poor quality data was costing organisations USD$15million on average, per business.
5. Real-time data and real-time decisions
Systems integration can consolidate data and deliver it in real-time, so you can stay abreast of your operations as they happen. Systems integration can help you build systems to collate data from multiple sources and send these to the right people, quickly. Real-time data enables the business’ leadership to respond to concerns or threats before they become larger problems.
Without this data, it can be hard to make accurate decisions about the near future of your business. The ability to see business operations and customer data in real-time is especially important when managing customer queries or allocating resources quickly.
A 2019 study by Salesforce notes that only 47% of marketers would say they have a unified view of customer data.
Where you will see the benefits of systems integration in your business
1. Unlock value from legacy systems
It can be expensive to replace your legacy, business-critical applications with brand new ones. Systems integration removes the need for this process by connecting the old and the new for a seamless flow of information.
There are several benefits here, including improved data management and enhanced customer service. So, while integrating disparate systems might cause some headaches in the short term, it can generate long-term benefits.
More than half of businesses worldwide will transform their legacy systems by 2024 and see their revenue increase by 14 per cent.
2. Enhance customer experience (CX)
Systems integration with your CRM unifies historical and current customer information so your team can deliver a robust customer experience.
For example, customer satisfaction will decrease if a customer contacts your business and the person they speak with does not have up-to-date information or needs to put the customer on hold to reference another system. On the other hand, if your team has all of the information in one place, they can focus on delivering excellent CX.
3. Make data-driven business decisions
Two things drive business success: people and data. For data to make an impact on your business, it must be accurate and available in real-time. Systems integration can help you achieve a competitive advantage by delivering the data you need to make data-driven business decisions.
Many businesses have access to a large pool of data. Your data can become insignificant if you do not have a system to consolidate it and leverage it for your business strategy. Systems integration brings your data together on one interface so that you can leverage it in real-time to inform your business decisions.
A third of large organisations plan to practice decision intelligence by the year 2023.
4. Reduce costs
When companies invest in systems integration, they can save money by reducing redundancy and improving efficiency. Essentially: systems integration is a more cost-effective option than running a fragmented and siloed business.
Furthermore, systems integration can help you reduce costs by removing or replacing systems you leveraged very little or were not providing the outcomes you needed.
When examining the systems they need, many people do not consider big-picture changes and focus on making incremental adjustments to their technology. Systems integration can accommodate future changes in your business and reduce the costs of adopting - and integrating - new technologies in future.
5. Focus on innovation rather than maintenance
I see many businesses focused on sustaining their current processes and operations rather than proactively innovating. Often, low IT budgets prevent companies from doing anything more than ‘keeping the lights on'. This can be a problem because it means that they cannot take advantage of the benefits that come from innovation.
For example, if you notice a point of friction in your business, you want to identify and leverage it as an opportunity to innovate. Maybe your team is stuck in a rut with improving their data management practices and requires IT solutions. Systems integration can provide tools to analyse data behind the problem and help you build the solutions to solve it.
Creative Folks can integrate your systems
Our expert team holds a deep passion for systems integration. We can connect your business systems and bring significant benefits to your internal team and your customers.
We offer consulting services as well as full-service solutions. Our expert team works closely with you to understand your current ecosystem, discuss solutions, implement these solutions and maintain them for you.
Visit our Systems Integration page for more on our capabilities.