The world is changing, and your company needs to change with it. Agility is more important than ever before, whether a company is managing a global supply chain, launching new services, or adapting to a fully-remote workforce. Efficiency is crucial, as well. With markets, suppliers, and buying patterns evolving rapidly, every dollar counts and every resource matters.
In times like this, a company’s focus, more than ever before, needs to deliver real value to customers, who are themselves struggling to adapt to massive disruptions in markets and technology. One area where companies can make great headway in addressing these challenges and become more efficient and agile is with integration. It’s time for businesses to move away from data silos propagated by old on-premises middleware. Without a clear and efficient integration strategy, your company will be limited in its agility and speed. Without best-in-class cloud integration, cumbersome business processes will frustrate customers and employees, while driving up costs and slowing operations. Success now and in the foreseeable future depends on:
- Rapid application integration aided by low-code tools and reusable components. Rapid development helps companies move quickly to create new products and services for customers. When markets are changing quickly, companies need to be able to move just as quickly in their response.
- Cloud technologies that can be deployed quickly, extended easily, and scaled as needed. Speed matters, too, for application deployments, raw compute resources, and storage. With cloud platforms, companies can get the services and infrastructure they need faster than ever before.
- Improved connectivity between people, applications, devices, and data.
Integration is essential. Launching new applications and setting up new cloud storage services aren't enough. These IT resources must be connected, so people can have access to the applications, data, and devices they need for their jobs. Because IT infrastructures are more broadly distributed than ever before, connectivity is no longer just IT "plumbing" that can be treated as an afterthought. It’s a make-or-break capability that should be included in every IT strategy.
That’s the big picture. To put it into sharper focus, it’s helpful to ask some questions. In my role at OSI Digital, I have the opportunity to engage with a diverse mix of companies, ranging from high-growth start-ups to established corporations across a spectrum of industries. We help them plan and execute IT transformations to support their business strategies.
From that work, I’ve put together a list of questions that you should be asking as you develop strategies for winning in today’s fast-changing digital world.
Question #1: How do you adapt to this new environment?
The first step is identifying what needs to be changed so the company can maximize profits and agility while minimizing losses and risks. For example, if your data is trapped in silos, then building integrations might be the first order of the day. If your supply chains are being disrupted, then finding and onboarding new suppliers and other partners might take precedence.
It’s possible that a company will need to make several big changes simultaneously. If so, it’s a good idea to consider the effect of one change on the others. For example, if you’re onboarding new trading partners, do you also need to modify your financial services applications to handle additional currencies? Do you need to publish materials in new languages, build new APIs, or adopt a new cloud application? Identify what needs to be changed. Then document all the assumptions, requirements, and goals related to those changes. This effort should involve both IT leaders and business leaders. IT leaders won’t be able to come up with the right answers on their own. They need direction from business stakeholders to understand what’s really holding back the organization.
Question #2: Do you have the right platforms in place?
Often the changes identified will compel you to pick new technology platforms, and it’s critical that the company picks the right ones. Outside expertise can help you evaluate various platforms and select the one that delivers the features and performance you need at the price you want. Today, almost all companies are moving to cloud platforms. Companies should evaluate cloud platforms carefully, taking into account:
- Features: Does the platform offer all the features you need? Don't just compare it to the on-premises platform you're replacing. Think big. Are there features that would let you do things in a new way?
- Scalability: Can the platform scale easily to meet your needs? How much manual configuration work is required to scale services?
- Reliability: How reliable is the platform? Does it provide fail-over capabilities? Can you provision services across different regions so that business can continue in the event of a broad service outage?
- Service level agreements: What service levels does the provider promise? Are different tiers of service available?
- Costs, taking into account expected volumes of data transfers and data storage: How much would it cost to support growing data volumes? How much would extra nodes cost? How do these prices compare to those from other platform providers?
Moving to the cloud reduces the need for expensive on-premises infrastructure, but it also introduces a new set of fees for compute power, data storage, and data transfers. Companies should calculate what those fees will be once cloud applications and services are running at their expected volumes.
Question #3: How do you migrate to your selected platforms?
The next thing to figure out is how to migrate from one platform to another. For example, a company might decide to migrate from an on-premises CRM system to Salesforce Sales Cloud. How do they make that change quickly and smoothly?At OSI Digital, we’ve developed a Rapid Implementation Methodology for helping companies take on platform migration projects, so they can get the greatest possible return on their investment in new platforms as quickly as possible. Throughout all of this work, it’s important to stay focused on business optimization. Everything you're doing should help the business meet its goals quickly and affordably.Whatever you are migrating, integration will be critical to your project. After all, we’re moving data from one place to another. That’s the essence of integration. We like using the unified Boomi Platform for our integrations because of its low-code development environment, its large number of ready-to-use connectors, and its support for data governance through the Master Data Hub. We also use Boomi Flow to automate workflows as part of optimizing business processes.
Question #4: How do you achieve value quickly?
Every company has a long list of IT projects it would like to complete. As part of our Rapid Implementation Methodology, we help customers compile a list of projects, such as all the integrations they would like to build. Next, we help them categorize those integrations using two criteria: how much value they would deliver for the business, and how difficult they would be to implement. Leveraging this information, we can place each project, such as an integration request, into one of four quadrants:
- Delivers high value, is easy to do
- Delivers high value, is difficult to do
- Delivers low value, is easy to do
- Delivers low value, is difficult to do
Maybe we’ve started with a list of 50 possible integrations to complete, but after sorting them, we find that there are 12 that could deliver high value while being easy to do. We’ll start with those. And when they’re complete, we will not only have helped the business, we will also have demonstrated the value of the company’s investment in IT transformations.
A Word to the Wise: Speed Matters
Markets such as retail, shipping, and entertainment are undergoing dramatic transformations, with more business operations and consumer activities moving online. Investment patterns are changing to move money where it will pay off the most in this reconfigured world. Given the rapid pace of these dramatic changes, it’s important for companies to think tactically not strategically — to focus on the here and now. The three- to six-month project is much more important now, not the long-term strategy that was devised last year for a vastly different economy.The only way for companies to move tactically is by quickly adopting the platforms and tools they need for rapid innovation and efficient business operations. The Boomi Platform plays a critical role here, helping companies connect applications, data, people and devices in fast and efficient ways.
Let us Help you Adapt to the New Normal
How can your company adapt to our changing times? Take advantage of the Boomi Platform. It's your integration tool for a fast-moving world. Learn more about how to prioritize your technologies and tactics to respond to the “new normal.” Contact the experts at OSI Digital and Boomi today.
About the Author
Hilal Khan is the global director, application integration at OSI Digital. With extensive experience in data modeling, developing data warehouses & SOA-based enterprise integrations, Hilal is responsible for the architecture and delivery of robust and scalable solutions for OSI Digital's customers. His expertise also includes ERP technology and implementation, with specialization in human resources, payroll, finance, inventory, insurance and other office automation systems.
This article is produced in partnership with OSI Digital Marketing and the Boomi Marketing team. The blog is also published on the Boomi website.