By Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Africa, Zoho Corporation
Technology silos are one of the most common barriers that organisations come across in their digital transformation journeys. Tech silos mainly crop up at a juncture when various departments within the organisation use disparate software applications that not only differ in form, look, and feel but also struggle to integrate contextually. When business-critical apps do not communicate with each other seamlessly, organisations are left battling information silos, disjointed processes, and half-baked analytics.
Investing in digital tools built on the same technology stack
Business owners and tech leaders who are intent on avoiding silos in their firm’s digital transformation journey should consider a holistic view and try appraising their software choices in the following aspects as an add-on measure:
- Beyond satisfying an exclusive departmental need, does the chosen software have the necessary integration capabilities to work with other tools and systems to create an inter-connected business tech ecosystem?
- Will the software contribute towards the three Cs—convergence, collaboration, and context, which are imperative for frictionless business processes?
An effective solution to the above is to move away from point solutions and consciously invest in a set of business solutions that are built on the same technology stack such as unified platforms, common data models, and consistent interfaces. This allows functionally distinct modules, like CRM, marketing, and finance to converge at an architectural level, facilitating powerful integrations, customizations, and capability extensions. Let’s look at a few scenarios below that portray the benefits of contextual integration.
When a CRM and a finance tool work together, a customer support executive is able to, say, access a client’s invoice history and pending product licenses directly from the CRM or Help Desk console without having to log into a secondary tool, thereby saving time. Next, an inter-connected collaboration platform that blends internal and external communications in one place, like a contextual messaging portal within the CRM tool, will allow executives to discuss a certain ticket before responding to the customer. The creative possibilities of such cross-functional integration are endless and so are the benefits, irrespective of industry type and organisation size.
Integrated solutions with a unified data repository also ensure high success rates and quality outcomes while employing modern technologies like AI, ML, and business intelligence. Uniform data sets power unified business analytics, resulting in meaningful inferences and actionable insights that help organisations future-proof their business decisions.
Additionally, the integration capabilities should also allow organizations to build custom workflows or connectors on their own with as little coding as possible to explore new value avenues in growth scaling, supply chain management, customer experience and so on.
The UX angle
This is another important angle for organisations to keep in mind during their business software decisions: the employee experience (EX) approach. Employees should be given tools that are simple to work with and offer consistent experiences across departments. The tools should also make their jobs easier, with process integration and automation and allowing for quicker cross-functional collaboration. When the tools tick all of the above, employees are much more likely to embrace the change that comes with digitalisation.
A great EX also contributes to a greater customer experience (CX). Tools that streamline communications and elevate EX allow organisations to exist as a single cohesive unit and ensure that their customers get a consistent experience. At the end of the day, a stellar customer experience is what gives an organisation the winning edge over competitors. In this digital age, an intelligent mix of business tools plays a defining role in achieving that competitive advantage.
Leveraging the power of integration for digital maturity
When it comes to business technology, invariable connectivity is vital because every organisation thrives by working as one unit. So, CTOs and business process architects should bear in mind the importance of a collaborative approach while going digital and that ‘integration rather than siloed is essential’.
For a digital transformation strategy to act as a true business enabler, it’s pivotal to choose the right set of tools that will work in harmony towards the same goal and mission, thereby reducing management complexity, simplifying the user environment, and increasing customer delight.