As a fan of James Bond movies, I have always likened the role of IT organizations as that of Q. Mission after mission, the quartermaster managed to create innovations that surprise, disrupt, and foil the spy extraordinaire’ s enemies. And increasingly IT teams are providing the same hero-enabling services to their sales counterparts, supporting real-time data processing, intelligence delivery, and insight-driven decision-making.
However, organizations that possess a long-established trove of massive data volumes and legacy business rules may find delivering these capabilities to be more challenging than other competitors. The cause? Limited integration between the latest technologies and their existing software systems.
Why failure happens to seemingly good integration strategies
Technology integrations are a moving target for most organizations. Every time a new digital investment is introduced into the IT landscape, new challenges in data processing, maintenance workflows, and connectivity inevitably arise. And very quickly, a seemingly simple and foolproof integration plan can become expensive, time-consuming, and complex – especially when technologies from multiple vendors are deployed.
Some companies have worked around this issue by leveraging SAP process integration (PI) and/or process orchestration (PO) solutions. In theory, they are modeling, implementing, integrating, and monitoring applications and securely exchanging information across a distributed network of technologies, users, and decision-makers. But as the IT landscape grows more diverse, these projects can turn into massive efforts, where past integrations are ripped and replaced with a new implementation, which may or may not cover the entirety of the integration scope.
No matter how organized and structured the effort, this “start from scratch” approach to integration brings a lot of moving parts that need to be reworked, scaled, and repurposed – only later resulting in compromises that limit the realization of expected outcomes.
Let’s consider the integration of order management software. Companies sometimes map a narrow set of ERP data to the software with an iDOC and upload it using process integration or process orchestration capabilities. However, the back-end processing functionality often fails – leaving a large backlog of orders that need to be reprocessed.
Resigning to this integration trap only leads to limited innovation and digitalization. What’s really needed is a purpose-built platform that either synchronizes data quickly or accommodates for real-time interaction between various technologies from multiple providers.
How to free your data and ensure integration success
Abandoning so-called standard integration strategies, businesses can unleash the power of live data to foster customer experiences and interaction that are not only impressive but also heroic contributors to revenue growth. Doing so allows salespeople to respond to market shifts with greater agility. Meanwhile, the IT team can decrease the need for dedicated support resources and limit technical risks by using a product that is actively maintained while still providing the ability for customization and extension.
When traditional tactics are compared against next-generation integration platforms, it’s abundantly clear why businesses are achieving such success. By serving as an end-to-end integration solution, the platform unlocks the full range of real-time ERP data without the need for recreating configurations and sources such as price books. Plus, sales teams and external partners can leverage their CRM platform to generate scalable, accurate quotes based on that information. And those quotes can be moved to an order management application immediately, once the quote is approved in the consuming system.
By supporting on-demand access to customer information, quotes, orders, and pricing, the exchange of ERP data across business processes managed with CRM solutions is simpler, faster, and, above all, harmonized – enabling advantages such as:
- Connected customer and partner interactions
- Uniquely orchestrated processes
- Personalized sales interactions
With this integration approach, companies can embrace anything from new vendors to different versions and next-generation capabilities without the risk of losing years – if not, decades – of business intelligence and logic. So instead of letting growing complexity restrict their IT landscape, they are taking advantage of next-generation capabilities that make sense for their operations.