With business operations more complex and multi-faceted than ever, the need for automation and integration continues to grow.
Today’s business operations are complex and multifaceted. Marketing teams are tasked with increasing the visibility of their brands. Sales reps must engage with clients directly with a view to converting promising leads into paying customers. Customer success teams need to do everything they can to maintain customer satisfaction. Finance departments are responsible for invoicing and protecting critical information. The list goes on.
Each of these operational areas have their own unique requirements, which also means they tend to function under the so-called silo mentality. In a siloed organisation, each department uses its own systems and databases, which often lack interoperability with one another. Yet, at the same time, these departments depend on one another for a range of business-critical operations. Therein lies the need to automate information-sharing.
Automating interdepartmental workflows
Every department performs independently in certain respects, but they remain reliant on other departments as well for other operations and hand-offs. For example, marketing may be responsible for sending promising leads onto the sales team, while the sales team will need visibility into product availability in order to close deals. As such, the customer lifecycle spans interactions across multiple departments. Furthermore, this applies just as much in the case of purely internal operations like accounting and supply chain management.
Interdepartmental workflows often depend on disparate communication systems ranging from email to sticky notes to voice mail to informal verbal conversations. In this sort of environment, information has to be manually entered into the department’s systems. This results in duplicate entries, inconsistencies, and an increase in human error, not to mention stunted productivity all round. After all, if employees are spending time re-keying information from one system into another or chasing up emails and voicemails, they will be spending less time performing their core roles.
Now, imagine that all those communications and information are stored in a single centralised database. With one unified software system at your disposal, interoperability will no longer be a problem, and every employee regardless of their role, will have instant access to all of the information they need to do their jobs. With role-based access controls, an integrated business management system (IBMS) makes it possible to automate interdepartmental workflows and communications without exposing sensitive data unnecessarily. After all, there is no need to grant marketing access to customer financial data if handling payments is the responsibility of the sales department.
Because routine business workflows often span multiple roles and departments, an integrated business process management (BPM) system should be integrate all systems and data from across their respective departments. This gives managers full visibility into and control over workflow tracking and reporting to the point they can apply standardised policies and processes across the board. They can also turn monotonous manual work into digitised forms and workflows with just a few clicks.
Scale advanced analytics and automation
Business automation refers to the use of technology to automate repeatable processes, thus freeing up employees’ time for high-value work. However, to truly benefit from automation, you first need to achieve greater integration. For example, integrating additional data sources can enrich existing data with more comprehensive analytics and insights. This way, data sources can all work together to facilitate the seamless sharing of information not just between teams, but also between technical solutions.
Even though industry-leading business intelligence solutions, such as Microsoft’s Power BI, support dozens of different data sources and formats, it typically takes a specialist to link them and maintain those links. However, if you consolidate all your business information sources into a centralised database, you can apply business intelligence in less time and with minimal effort. Your business intelligence solutions can then comb over the entire data set in short order to build a comprehensive understanding of everything from customer journey mapping to internal business processes.
Intelligent automation is the holy grail of business automation. That said, systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are only ever as good as the data used to train them. With a fragmented information environment, inconsistent data, duplicate data, and other issues are inevitable, all of which lead to less accurate reports and insights. Integrated business management system however, brings all data together to serve as a single source of truth (SSOT) for the entire business and all of its processes and operations. The analytics platform uses that SSOT to provide high-quality insights and automate routine decision-making.
Driving continuous improvement with integration and automation
Continuous improvement refers to the ongoing effort to improve products, services, and processes incrementally. In today’s ever-changing digitally-driven economy, it has become the regular way of doing business, and it relies heavily on integration and automation.
The effects of rolling out business integration and automation solutions for driving continuous improvement cannot be underestimated. They have a dramatic impact on everything from staff morale to customer satisfaction and, ultimately, the bottom line. Furthermore, the availability of business-critical information means that executives will be able to make informed decisions in less time, which is vital in an era where the only constant is rapid change.
In the absence of information siloes, everyone wins. Employee satisfaction and engagement levels improve, simply because people have to spend less time chasing up communications over email and myriad other channels. Customer satisfaction improves for similar reasons, as sales and support queries can be resolved quickly. With less time and money being spent on repeatable routine operations, profit increases, so integration and automation look good on the balance sheets too. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, businesses will be better placed to react promptly to market changes, rise to new challenges, and tap into more opportunities.
ContinuSys develops integrated web and mobile business apps that manage interdependent functions of the enterprise to empower greater operational resilience and reduce risk. Request your 30-day free trial to find out how it works!