Isn’t It Time to See What You’re Selling?
Eliminating data silos improves transparency, accountability, productivity, and compliance. So why doesn’t everyone do it? Turns out it’s not that easy. But data integration can be transformative.
Imagine your company is an end-to-end provider for your customers — that is, you make, sell, and deliver your products to your end users. Your operations might happen in one of two ways.
1. Data is kept separate at every stage of operations.
- Different divisions and locations may even use different applications.
- Order data must be input manually and transferred from division to division throughout the fulfillment process.
- Salespeople don’t have access to product data when they are working in the field. As a result, when they take a customer’s order, they say, “We’ll input that order and let you know if there’s a delay.”
- Too many orders — or too few — can bring production to a slow crawl as purchasing and production teams struggle to adjust.
2. Data is centralized and integrated to provide transparency to all teams across your organization.
- The supply chain manager sees what products are available, which products are most popular — and when the stock for a particular product is running low.
- The purchasing coordinator works with suppliers to ensure that materials are in-house just as they are needed.
- The production manager tailors the workflow to meet the demand for specific items.
- In the field, salespeople see the availability of products so they can tell customers whether a product is in stock or not. They can even track an order’s processing and transport right to the moment when the item is delivered to the customer.
Maybe your company is the end-to-end provider we’ve described, so the scenario isn’t a stretch for you. We’re betting that you prefer the operations in list 2.
How do you get to a place in which you are operating with true transparency?
Pulling it all together
While beneficial, integrating disparate business data can be challenging. A data integration solution requires building a foundation on a central data repository that combines all your business data from every source, standardizes it, and makes it available to all your applications.
However, this job can be messy. Frequently, legacy systems don’t play well together. Data can be “dirty,” requiring deduping and updates. Moving to new data formats and applications may present a steep learning curve, so employees may resist the change. And most important, identity and access management must be incorporated into the foundation and at every access point.
A strategic approach
Due to the complexity, you need to develop a plan. In it, you should address
- how you will determine your data requirements;
- who will develop the solution that meets them;
- how you will gather, clean, and organize the data; and
- how you will transform data into information employees can use.
Finally, you need to decide how to get that information into employees’ hands and what training you need to provide them.
While developing your plan, you’ll need to answer questions such as:
- Who should have access to what information?
- Where will the shared information be stored?
- Will you keep your solution on-premises or move it to the cloud?
- Will you need to serve mobile users?
A powerful impact
In this issue of Arisant Answers, we take a close look at how these questions are being addressed in a large and complex enterprise: a school district.
Read on in this issue to learn about the proactive, thoughtful approach that the Clark County School District in Nevada is taking to support and protect its diverse community of users.