Leave no-one behind: how to unlock your entire digital ecosystem

Once data is entered and can then be connected safely, securely, and quickly everywhere – you have in place the foundations of integration and the beginning of the “integrated experiences” journey. If only it were that simple. Data readiness, user engagement, and the unified platform are vital to delivering an integrated experience and will become critical to an organisation’s survival. The businesses that will thrive in an increasingly digital and connected society are the ones building a modern tapestry of integrated experiences.

We invited a group of IT directors, digital heads, solution architects, and program managers to discuss their experiences with integration, and more about:

  • Simplifying connectivity and usage across your collection of data
  • Unlocking insights and intelligence from data
  • The challenges of implementing an “integrated experience” strategy

Rela8 Group’s Technology Leaders Club roundtables are held under the Chatham House Rule. Names, organisations and some anecdotes have been withheld to protect privacy.

About Boomi

Boomi specializes in Integration Platform as a Service, API management, Master Data Management, and data preparation. Boomi’s goal is simple – to help companies connect their data in a way that empowers them to develop exciting integrated experiences and generate meaningful growth.

Boomi has been named a leading Integration Platform as a Service for 8 years in a row.

Looking towards integration

When looking to the future, it’s integration that is on the minds of modern businesses. With a vast amount of data at their fingertips, businesses today are looking to leverage this data to create frictionless and convenient integrated experiences. Despite the goal being clear, the path to integration is anything but.

From intransigent legacy systems to organisational culture clashes, there is no easy route to implementing an integrated network.

The “matter layer”

There is often a disconnect between the company’s goals and the methods to achieving them, particularly with IT strategy. Businesses know they need to change and so, armed with buzzwords like “waterfall” and “agile”, they drive bold new data strategies in a bid to stay ahead of the curve.

What is often missing in these cases, however, is the “matter layer”. The matter layer is the why between the what (business strategy) and the how (technology strategy.)

Take for example the creation of a data analytics dashboard. The dashboard is the what, a data integration platform is the how, but why is the dashboard required? Implementing changes and introducing new tools and dashboards is exciting, but if there isn’t a solid use case for why these changes have been made, it was a wasted effort.

Before embarking on these ambitious data projects, it is important to understand the value creation plan. Integrated systems have the potential to be immensely valuable, but only so long as the people using them know what value they are trying to extract and why.

The legacy of legacy systems

As the future moves forwards on digital rails, a lot of older businesses waking up to the idea that they need to modernise or risk being swiftly outmoded. But what happens when your business is burdened by years of legacy systems?

Older systems simply weren’t designed to be integrated. They often grow outside of their original scope, making them cumbersome and slow. A system that takes days to run (and even then, at the risk of failure) is anything but agile. People rarely know what to do with the huge amounts of data generated by legacy systems, but that doesn’t stop them being fiercely protected by people who insist the data is being used somewhere... probably.

Radical changes are required to bring legacy systems up to date, but it’s not just the systems that need to change. Along with any shift into more modern platforms, an organisational culture shift is also required, one that puts data literacy at the forefront.

Data democratisation ≠ data literacy

The drive towards integration and integrated experiences is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the value of data. Data is becoming more essential to business operations, but data literacy is lagging behind and as a result, comprising data health and integrity. Throwing money at new technology without upping the skill set of staff and putting data-forward processes in place is futile.

Data democratisation is a term used a lot when talking about the future of managing data. Making data available to everyone with the hope that by doing so you empower your staff to use that data themselves without specialist intervention. While this can and should be the goal, it is important to realise that data democratisation does not equal data literacy.

Data integration offers businesses the opportunity to master their data and use it to gain valuable insight. All of this goes to waste if the people working with the data don’t know how to utilise it. This can lead to false conclusions being drawn and confirmation bias, the exact opposite of mastering your data. A key part of integration is getting the senior leaders within the business to recognise that they're not just investing in a program of work, but they’re also investing in the people that are delivering it.

A change in culture

Businesses today will reach a point where they can’t continue on as they are. As data volumes and process complexity grow, they will need to find a way to work more effectively. The move towards integration and integrated experiences is inevitable – businesses that can’t keep up by offering slick integrated services won’t survive.

Legacy systems will be dragged kicking and screaming onto new integrated platforms sooner or later, so what matters now is that businesses work to change their attitudes and behaviours towards data. By bringing the whole company on the data journey, businesses can begin being truly data driven with the right culture in place to ensure they thrive in our digital world.

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