The Connected Enterprise

By Craig Stewart, CTO at SnapLogic.

Working out what makes an enterprise truly tick is a difficult task – with so many moving parts, from HR to marketing, finance to IT, it can be difficult to rationalise countless different data sets, applications, and processes. It can be a daunting task managing the vast range of potential systems, from on-premises, outdated legacy mainframes to modern cloud data stores. But it is critical enterprises have the knowledge, expertise, and tools to properly manage, integrate, and ultimately govern their data and application landscapes.

In 2017, aMcAfee report found that enterprises were using 1,427 unique cloud services, the majority of them disconnected from one another – three years on from that report that number can only have grown. Take into account the additional technology investments in the typical enterprise, on-premises or otherwise, and the potential problem of siloed systems working in isolation is significantly exacerbated. IT departments find themselves forced to commit scarce time and resources to integration tasks that should take days as opposed to weeks.

A poorly integrated enterprise has a detrimental effect on many different parts of the business. However, if businesses equip themselves with the right tools and best practices, they can properly integrate and manage their dynamic and complex data and application landscape, across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments – and only then, can they make real progress achieving their digital transformation ambitions.

Automating employee and customer journeys

Take HR as an example, and the journey that the average employee will go through, from initial onboarding to eventually departing the company and everything in between. Human resources is a prime information generator; every worker that joins a company brings unique information that must be properly captured, shared, managed, and safeguarded. HR professionals and employees alike too often must deal with cumbersome forms and antiquated processes that can be time consuming, an inefficient use of resources, and frustrating for all involved. What’s more, HR’s data is also often needed by a range of other lines of business – finance teams who must set up payroll, or IT teams who provision laptops – meaning that data processing, sharing, and management across systems is critical. If these systems are connected and processes are automated, HR teams are more productive and the employee experience soars.

Similarly, a poorly integrated enterprise can also have a negative impact on the customer journey. Marketing departments need to think about the experience of the people who drive their business, from start to finish – the customer. Every potential point of engagement needs to be as seamless, timely, and data-informed as possible to ensure the potential or existing customer gets the desired information or service at exactly the right time, in exactly the right way. From initial research of a company’s products to seeking resolution when problems arise after using the product, connected data and automated processes ensure marketing teams can deliver the best experience at all stages of the customer journey.

Getting integration right

Businesses need to invest in integration platforms which can quickly and easily integrate disparate data sets, and automate common workflows and processes, across the enterprise. The best of these integration tools take advantage of powerful new technologies such as AI and machine learning and employ intuitive user interfaces to help accelerate these critical integration and automation processes.

As well as accelerating line of business processes and outcomes, such as employee onboarding and the customer experience, intelligent, cloud-based integration can also empower IT teams to truly engage with, and advance digital transformation. A fully-connected app and data landscape provides IT a holistic 360-degree view of their enterprise IT environment, helping them understand what systems are being used when and where and to what effect, enabling them to trouble-shoot issues where needed or bring on new technologies to further accelerate success.

Newer integration platforms have been designed to be low-code and self-service, meaning that those without a detailed technical background can meaningfully contribute to integration projects. This allows business users, within HR or Marketing for example, to solve their own integration issues without the need for IT involvement. The result: greater productivity and faster business outcomes.

The potential impact of disconnected systems and slow, often manual and error-prone processes on a business is obvious – frustrated employees, unhappy customers, time and money lost, and opportunities unrealized. It doesn’t have to be this way. Integrating your enterprise is the first step in building a connected, automated, data-driven business.

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