At this point, most people understand the strategic importance of digital transformation. Companies lacking a vision for digital strategy have fallen by the wayside, and companies who are surging ahead of the competition are the ones who have been able to provide digital tools which efficiently deliver services to customers through secure, accessible connections. What exactly does that look like? Look no further; here are a few foundational steps that will enable and propel digital transformation.
Adopt a Holistic B2B Integration Strategy
WHAT: The first step on the road to digital transformation is the development of a comprehensive Business-To-Business (B2B) integration strategy that addresses a handful of specific questions related to meaningful data exchange. Some of them include: how do customers send data, where do they go to find out how to do this, who do they contact, and what are the protocols and data formats needed to send the information? On top of this, how much time does it take to receive confirmation, and, more importantly, what happens if information sent is incomplete or incorrect; how will the customer be notified, by whom, and how will the information be resubmitted?
WHY: Without answers to these questions, your company will lack the fundamental infrastructure needed to successfully incorporate data integration. The process of digital transformation absolutely requires the handling of data needs for processing and mapping to internal applications. Once a thorough strategy has been developed, the next step is the implementation of an architecture which offers shared data connections in the marketplace and provides an easy platform to exchange data through those secure connections.
Leverage a B2B Cloud-Based Social Marketplace
WHAT: Truly, the key to a digital strategy is providing a platform which allows customers to reach out to you and consume the services your company is providing in a secure and meaningful manner. A social marketplace of businesses with shared connections is the simplest approach - one in which customers search and explore shared connections created by your company and then send out a request to access those connections.
WHY: Once systems have been synchronized, the exchange of data becomes easy and automatic. For example, this concept allows for the option of letting business users automate customer on-boarding without having to rely on IT resources. For example, let’s say a payroll provider uses a BambooHR connection which allows you to synchronize your HR system with the payroll system. Using access credentials, you can easily connect with BambooHR and set the trigger to “update employee” in order for the system to automatically send updated records from your HR to payroll. Instead of having to e-mail, fax, or call an account rep, you can simply connect through the shared connection and sync-up data in seconds. Further, once the connection is established, it will automatically run any time there’s a change to an employee profile. This cloud-based marketplace strategy provides a front-end portal for companies to allow trading partners or clients to find and establish business relationships which are easy, automatic, and highly efficient.
Create an Enterprise Service Layer for Data Integration
WHAT: Another key element of a comprehensive digital strategy is an enterprise service bus (ESB) that allows internal or backend systems to talk to each other once your front-end cloud marketplace receives data from customers. In other words, what happens to data once it has been received? This is where having an ESB layer with a standard library of data services to integrate meaningful information with relevant back-end applications is so important.
WHY: The range of data services built into the architecture should be vast in order for business users to be able to perform each data integration task easily and efficiently. Maybe one of the services can call an API that loads data to a database, another service can provide General Ledger updates back to a customer’s Quickbooks application in order to create Journal Entry records, and another service can provide updates to 401(k) Plan Service providers.
Develop a Standard Data and Format Dictionary
WHAT: When developing your digital strategy, it is also crucial to develop a data dictionary of formats or standards. Having a single format for a set of records, or a single way of sending data to an application, or a single way of mapping for a specific data topic is infinitely better than having multiple methods for doing all of those things. The same rule applies to a data communication approach for your customers.
WHY: The major benefit of a data dictionary is that it would allow your company to manage business information more efficiently. Give your clients a platform that provides an easy way for them to exchange data, because having a common marketplace of shared data connections is a crucial and effective way of achieving digital transformation.
Having solved problems related to discovery and the establishment of data connections, these approaches provide the foundation for digital transformation enablement. As digital transformation is changing the business landscape and customers are drawn to technologies which provide easy ways to complete traditionally complex tasks, the aforementioned approaches can provide a dynamic and scalable architecture that will be truly transformational.
Edited by Kyle Piscioniere