Evolving over decades, effective data integration delivers business value and a competitive edge
By David Rastatter, Sr. Director of Product Marketing
When computing began shifting from massive mainframes to smaller, distributed systems, these systems needed a stable means of communicating with each other. One of the first methods, electronic data interchange (EDI), allowed systems to exchange documents in specific, well-defined formats. Initially used by the banking industry, EDI integration slowly spread to other sectors, including retail.
By the 1990s, with the commercial Internet starting to emerge, system integration offered a clear competitive advantage. With the valuable data it provided, e-commerce businesses and other companies could better meet customer needs and manage their own operations.
Today, industry leaders integrate systems and enterprise applications to create streamlined, automated workflows and the kind of data integration that delivers valuable analytics and actionable insight. While enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are among the most commonly integrated systems, businesses also integrate finance, inventory management, payment, and sales applications, among others.
The top advantages of system integration include:
1. Automated workflows and greater visibility
Today’s businesses need to integrate structured and unstructured data from a wide range of sources, both internal and external, and rapidly perform core processes. For example, when a customer buys a product from a retailer online, that purchase triggers a complex set of functions, including data sharing across all sales, inventory, shipping, supply, and accounting applications involved.
With proper system and data integration, retailers can establish the seamless, automated workflows their businesses demand. And by centralizing operations, integration improves visibility enterprise wide, allowing companies to track, monitor, and optimize their efforts.
2. More efficient operations and lower costs
When businesses integrate their systems to streamline and automate workflows, they operate more efficiently and drive down costs. And, instead of devoting valuable time and resources to data entry and other manual efforts, they free employees to focus on higher-value strategic efforts.
3. More effective employees
System integration doesn’t just speed and optimize workflows—it also allows a company’s human resources to operate more quickly and effectively. By centralizing information, breaking down silos, and improving visibility, system integrations allows employees to move forward with projects and address potential bottlenecks proactively.
- Employee onboarding & offboarding
- Employee expenses
- Streamline contracts
4. A much-needed competitive edge
A recent State of Knowledge Management survey conducted by the Technology and Services Industry Association (TSIA) found that nearly one-third of respondents are still relying on completely separate systems, technologies, and teams for different aspects of their service delivery.
Companies that are integrated across business sectors operate far more rapidly and efficiently; in a digital business landscape that moves at a faster pace than ever before, integration translates into an undeniable competitive advantage.
5. Customized workflows to meet demands
Every company operates within unique parameters and has its own processes and procedures. An effective system integration platform is flexible and highly customizable, allowing workflows to be designed for an organization’s specific needs and priorities.
6. Metrics for better decision making
Reliable business metrics are vital—they allow organizations to identify areas for improvement, determine where costs can be reduced, and uncover opportunities for growth. System integration solutions bring data together from multiple applications, providing companies with a way to forecast, evaluate process efficiencies, and drive well-informed decision making.
Learn more about the power and possibilities of integration for your business with Jitterbit.