An effective integration strategy is core to any aspect of your digital transformation including any CX, Data, API programs. Whether providing a seamless customer experience across multiple platforms; insights for your business stakeholders on your customers or products from the data you hold; or even new business models or operational efficiency from an API program: none of these can be easily achieved if your application estate is disconnected and data does not flow freely around your organisation. Being able to easily implement straight through processing, create new omnichannel experiences, gain insights from a new data store, or even re-platform a system in order to reduce operating costs, should be relatively painless because of the effectiveness of your integration strategy. I still remember the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, when suddenly businesses discovered overnight if their technology strategy was effective or not. If you could easily move to ‘online-only’ for your customers and remote working for your staff, then you had a fit-for-purpose technology estate. If you were the bank that suddenly realised that every product required a customer to go into a branch and sign a form or the telco that needed a call centre interaction to change a data plan then you needed to pivot fast.
Unfortunately it’s not quite as simple as upgrading your IT business platforms. Sure, that bank could implement e-signatures and replace paper with electronic forms but if the data could not easily be integrated into the loan origination platforms then the business is stuck. Enterprises are often a patchwork quilt of systems stitched together with overnight file transfers and batch processing as no single system could do everything you need. These systems become outdated and increasingly complex to maintain, and any technology upgrade or replacement can trigger knock-on impacts in multiple parts of your business. That alone can frustrate your staff and impact customers who have become accustomed to seamless digital experiences from new businesses built digitally from the ground up.
Think how many systems your business’s value chain includes.
Regardless of what products or services your company provides, any customer interaction will touch multiple systems. You’ll be receiving customer enquiries through your digital channels, processing these applications in another, and analysing and providing insights to your business stakeholders in yet another system. Home loan enquiries might come in through your website and CRM, but the initial loan assessment and qualification needs to be done in your lending management platform. The risk assessment and credit decisions are in yet another system and potentially provided via an external partner’s system who you pay to manage that complexity for you. And this is a simplified version of most banks lending platforms and hasn’t even touched on the secondary, supporting activities that provide staff with the resources and infrastructure they need, pay salaries and manage the organisation’s cash flow. Many studies show it’s extremely common in every enterprise for information to touch thirty or more different systems, from a multitude of vendors, with different dependencies and levels of integration.
The smallest change in the way you capture loan enquiries can cause total process corruption in your downstream lending management platforms. No wonder an integration strategy is key!
Time for a rethink?
How do you close the chasm between the promise of digital transformation and the legacy systems you are burdened with? While business groups are seduced by the potential of machine learning, big data and automation to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction, these initiatives are weighed down with the overhead of maintaining and managing the existing technology environment and all of its moving parts. One option is to replace the legacy stack with a monolithic platform that consolidates everything (or even a few things). This is often unrealistic and requires the business to change the way it works to accommodate the technology. Or you could keep doing what you already are, slowing down every release through the need to maintain as much of your existing integration stack as possible, limiting your digital transformation initiatives to only the worst pain points.
Or is it time to pause and look at the flow of information across your systems, to uncover new opportunities? This exercise alone will highlight friction points or areas of improvement that might not have been obvious at first. The more you can automate, speed up and improve every step in the value chain, the more delighted your customer will be. Analysing your system integration current landscape and future requirements is an opportunity to embrace the true benefits of digital transformation, resulting in a better end-to-end experience for your customers and for your staff.
So what next ?
By its very nature integration is a complex but critical component of your organisation’s IT and business landscape. Irrespective of the type of organisation you are, and your current level of capability around integration the worst thing to do is jump head long into a purely technology driven decision. Bringing the whole organisation along on your integration journey ensures you make the right decisions about an integration strategy and subsequent technology choices(s) and importantly sets the basis for ongoing success – all of this requires a coordinated program approach. This is where Excelsa can help you, years of experience with integration have enabled us to create easily consumable service packages to help you wherever you are on the path of effective integration.