The world has become far too complicated to try to manage without systems integration. With so many disparate data sources and tools, making it all work together without a systems integration approach is rapidly becoming almost impossible for individuals and teams. The result is diminishing productivity, increasing frustration, and spiralling costs.
To spell it out in a little more detail, by systems integration, we mean integrating your subsystems and components to create a customised system that is much more efficient and results-oriented, saving you time and money. Your clients will benefit too. Here are ten of the most compelling reasons why you should prioritise integrating your systems.
Efficient data management
Storing data in multiple locations isn’t only dangerous from a security point of view, it also severely reduces the value of that data. Such an approach makes it almost impossible to analyse the information correctly, and hugely increases the risk of missing what would otherwise be valuable insights that would spur your business on. Systems integration will ensure all your data is in the right place and accessible. If you handle personal information, it will also lead to improved compliance and minimise your risk of sensitive data loss.
There are few things more frustrating than entering similar data into multiple applications. Not only does it waste hours of the working day, but it is also highly demotivating and diminishes creativity. It is also error-prone, and the more you must do it, the higher is the error rate. Systems integration avoids such wasted repetition, re-invigorating your staff to spend their time doing better things that are more important for your business and improve their motivation.
In an integrated system, there is only one manager, the one in charge of the system, rather than the many, where everyone oversees their specialist sub-system. Not only is the former more efficient, but it also eliminates problems of accountability. Should things go wrong, then you know who to go to. It leads to far less confusion and problems are dealt with efficiently.
End customer attrition
Overcomplicated disparate systems don’t only frustrate your staff, they frustrate your clients too. Modern clients expect their suppliers to work better than clockwork, and if their expectations are not met, they will soon move to greener pastures. Systems integration will enable you to provide your customers with a more efficient service, enhancing their satisfaction and ensuring their lasting loyalty. It is always more satisfying to deal with a fast, efficient business than a slow, seemingly incompetent one.
Act on real-time information
If you are in the kind of business where accurate real-time information drives your decisions, and today, progressively more companies are, then without systems integration, you are ultimately going to fail. Discontinuities between finance, service and sales departments can waste hours and sometimes days, often leading to errors and wrong decisions. Such risks are eliminated with a properly integrated system. All the data you need is at hand. Customer queries can be handled quickly and accurately, and everything important is immediately visible. This also provides you with the opportunity to improve the way you monitor your processes and identify potential problems before they happen.
Automate routine processes
By automating routine procedures such as invoicing and consolidation, you will save time and money while eliminating errors. No longer will you have to double-check your results; systems integration will reduce the possibility of mistakes so you will have results you can trust and rely on. Your customers will also benefit. For instance, if you have an e-commerce business, they will be able to follow through the purchase process from beginning to end with real-time information. Happier customers mean more sales.
Improve the quality of your team
Systems integration means that your staff will spend much less time focusing on routine tasks and instead focus on the big tasks that drive your business forward. You will no longer need to recruit staff to carry out routine duties. Alternatively, you can concentrate on improving the overall skills set of your team. Naturally, this won’t happen overnight; it needs to be handled with care and kindness, but change is inevitable even if, for some people, it might be a little painful.
If sales are part of your business, then increased sales is almost an inevitable result of systems integration. Your sales staff will be able to work far more efficiently with immediate access to all the data they require so that they can address customer needs as they arise. And your customers will benefit from instant access to all the information they need. For instance, availability, delivery, and tracking.
Many of the benefits mentioned above lead to reduced costs, but cost serving deserves a mention of its own. Across your business, improved efficiencies, reduced errors, streamlined teams, elimination of routine tasks, and fewer customer complaints will drive down your costs and boost your profits. Naturally, there are initial costs to consider. We never said that systems integration is easy. Generally, it is beyond the experience and skill of existing IT departments, and in many instances, you might need the services of an external systems integrator. Systems integration done badly can be a costly and dangerous exercise. But a well-implemented systems integration project can reap enormous rewards.
Get ahead of your competitors
While many new businesses are adopting an integrated systems approach, far many more have not done so and, even though they may be thinking of it as a long term development, many counter-forces are pulling in the opposite direction. There is evidence that many systems integrations projects fail, and one of the main reasons is protectionism. People tend to be reluctant to relinquish their current role, and if that role is threatened, then they are unlikely to cooperate freely. Sometimes the integration task can appear so large that businesses are reluctant to take it on at all. Whatever the reason for their reluctance, by refusing to be a Luddite and integrating your systems now will give you a march on your competitors with the opportunity to increase your market share.