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Posts Tagged ‘integration’

What is the Dollar Value of Integration? Part 1: Time to Revenue

October 20th, 2014 No comments

As you know, Time to Revenue is the period of time from the signing of a contract until the business arrangement starts to produce revenue.  Depending on the complexity of the contract, it could be days, weeks, months or longer.

When we talk about Integration between external suppliers and both our internal and external customers, months and quarters are simply too long.

Consider that your salesman just landed that new big account, but it requires electronic data exchange.  With a single integration platform handling all EDI transactions, your customer’s purchase orders will flow into your system in days.  What this means is that your company is producing revenue from the new customer in a matter of days.  Any CFO would be delighted with this news.

Now, let’s take this example a little further.  We are receiving POs just days after signing the contract, but we only recognize the value AFTER we can ship and invoice the customer.  Again, your integration platform comes to the rescue by creating data flows that identify when shipments and invoices are created in your back-end system and convert them into a format that the customer can already accept. 

In this example, we did not burden or disrupt the way your customer does business.  What really happened is that you just made it easier for companies to do more business with YOU.

If you can quickly onboard new customers, you not only recognize revenue, but your company will gain a reputation of being easy to do business with and you will help to build very strong customer loyalty.  It may even be the competitive advantage that allows you to become your customer’s Vendor of Choice.

Integration is a competitive advantage that positions your company to say “Yes” to your customers and partners.  When you can confidently say “Yes” to data integration requests, you are positioned to grow your revenue streams deeper and wider.

Watch the Integration Power$ Business 3-part mini-series at: www.extol.com/bethehero

When to Consider an Integration Platform

October 1st, 2014 No comments

As businesses grow and evolve, so do the internal applications, systems and processes they depend on to run their operations. In addition to IT changes, they also encounter changes with departments, people, trading partners and other internal and external responsibilities. The impact of these changes is often not realized until it reaches a “Critical Point.” The Critical Point could be anything from performance degradation of both systems and people to losing business because of it. Some of the contributors could be the processes, the flow of data or even the format of the data being exchanged between internal and external applications (including cloud) and trading partners. This may signify the need for an Integration Platform in your organization. Factors that affect the need for an Integration Platform are specifically:

·Organizational changes – There may be people leaving, new people being added to your company or departmental responsibilities shifting. When there are organization changes at this level, domain expertise can be lost leading to process paralysis.

·New trading partner mandates – To start doing business with a new trading partner, you must accommodate their data and communication requirements.

·Customer retention – To keep current customers, accommodating their business requests is critical and may include modifications to the data format or a new format implementation.

·Executive mandate – New directives may have been received from the executive team to consolidate all redundant data and/or siloed applications.

·Business process improvement –Improving performance and efficiency of your business processes may require redefinition of the processes that move data throughout the organization and to/from trading partners.

·Systems modernization – The current implementation may include many legacy solutions for each partner or application that is reliant on fragile custom coded solutions. Consider modernizing systems to remove the dependency on custom coded solutions.

·Automation – Automating the transfer of data between your applications and partners would improve reliability and data safety.

·Electronic transfer – Compliance with certain e-commerce or government mandates could drive an opportunity for innovation.

If any of the above factors are occurring in your organization, it is time to consider adding an Integration Platform to accommodate the changes before your systems reach that “Critical Point”.

Death by 1,000 Integration Tools

September 12th, 2014 No comments

Unlike traditional on-premise software, the economics of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) allow for profitable delivery of narrow, highly-specialized applications. As a result, the average SaaS application user consumes more applications than an average user of on-premise software. GetApp currently tracks over 5800 business apps and estimates that there are around 10,000 SaaS vendors, worldwide. And according to Intermedia, the average small-to-medium business uses more than 14 applications, from a variety of vendors.

Few applications, SaaS or otherwise, function as closed systems. So it’s no surprise that the explosion of SaaS applications has produced an aftershock of tools for integrating with external (cloud and on-premise) data and applications. SaaS leaders like Salesforce.com and NetSuite support ecosystems with tens or hundreds of integration options. But even the smallest SaaS application vendors offer one or two integration options. Read more…

Healthy Processes Simplify Change

June 23rd, 2014 No comments

What causes a company to change? It could be something as large as a merger or acquisition, or as small as deciding to use less paper around the office. Sometimes change can be scary, in part because it tends to shine a light on the dysfunctional processes within the company.

For example, when planning for change, a company might notice that they have been following a process that no longer is relevant or efficient. Too often a process is accepted, even if it is a dysfunctional one, which ultimately impacts the bottom line. If companies are not evaluating their operational processes on a constant basis, adapting to change will become more difficult.

Establishing regular evaluations of business processes will give more control over operations and help reduce the “fear factor” of having to make a bad decision while adapting to change. That said, evaluating processes requires having complete visibility to them. To do this, companies who have fully integrated their systems and application data will be able to see where their workflow bottlenecks or drop-offs are.

With a single integration tool connecting the entire organization, any department can view the health of operational processes. Automated notices can be set up to alert specific people of process disruptions, while dashboard views and on-demand reports can be called up by anyone, from the IT Manager to the CFO. Looking at data moving through the entire organization gives companies a global view over whether invoices were received, bids were answered on time, or even to check against a chargeback claim.

Whether companies strategically change for growth, or reactively change from market pressure, evaluating current process efficiencies will be at the top of the change plan. Utilizing integration to proactively maintain healthy processes will not only keep the pain of adapting to change at a minimum, it will certainly help companies achieve growth much faster.

How to Grow a Business through Integration

February 24th, 2014 No comments

Going for Growth

You’re ready to take your company to the next level, and know that in order to do this, you’ll need to change the way you do business. How do you better serve your customers, become more competitive, and take on new customers faster without breaking the bank, or over-extending staff and resources?

Processes Ease the Pressure

When it comes to IT, most small to mid-sized businesses face the same challenges: lack of budget and lack of staff. These departments struggle to maintain day-to-day operations, let alone have time to think about long-term strategies to help grow the business. In order to ease the pressure off IT, you’ll need to focus on creating more efficient processes that you can then automate.

Automation Starts with Integration

Before you look at what current processes can be condensed and automated, you need to make sure that all of your systems are, or can be, properly integrated. With a true integrator at the center of your data, you will be able to quickly increase the number of automated connections between applications, data and partner interfaces – without any custom code.

One Integrator to Connect Them All

A true integrator will connect to and exchange data with your existing internal systems, and the systems of your customers, vendors and suppliers. It will give you complete control over your data, and allow you to automate the processes that enable you to easily communicate with all parties, make faster business decisions, and take on new customers in far less time. A true integrator is designed with business “rules of engagement” in mind – meaning, no matter what your IT infrastructure looks like today or in 5 years, you will always comply with new and existing customer requirements. See how EXTOL integrates >