Choosing the right mix of tools for your business

Monday, March 29th, 2021 00:00 |
Digital lending. Photo/File

Andrew Bourne 

Technology silos are some 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.

Business owners and tech leaders who are intent on avoiding silos in their firm’s digital transformation journey should consider a holistic view.

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 customer relationship management (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.

 Another important angle for organisations to keep in mind during their business software decisions is 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. - The writer is the Zoho Africa Regional  Manager

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