Much has been written about how digital technology has changed every aspect of our world. In just a few short years, e-commerce has become the king of retail and customer engagement, large desktop computers have shrunk into more-powerful handheld devices, and data has become attached to everything from customer behavior to healthcare to traffic patterns.
And this is only the beginning of what’s to come. By 2025, every technology, process, and experience will be propped up with a maturing set of emerging technologies – such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain – running behind the scenes.
How can businesses lagging behind catch up and take hold of this rising wave of innovation? The answer lies in how you architect your IT landscape.
Innovation and the digital core: A perfect partnership
Enterprises that are leading or keeping up with the digital wave understand that their success depends on their ability and willingness to adapt to change. Disrupting the norm nowadays is about seizing endless opportunities delivered by breakthrough technologies and platforms. By harnessing machine learning, predictive analytics, blockchain, cloud service, and the Internet of Things (IoT), CIOs can innovate and reimagine the business model to engage, serve, and wow customers in ways their competitors can’t.
This feat may seem overwhelming, but the key is to connect the ERP system to every aspect of the business. Visualize ERP as the digital core holding all your data. Around this core are a digital periphery of solutions that create an interconnected web of insight. These insights become an essential asset for innovation by enabling real-time decision-making, on-the-fly resolution of operational and customer issues, and immediate identification of new opportunities.
Companies can further accelerate these advantages by integrating cloud line-of-business solutions to build a unified, end-to-end platform. The core is then strengthened with embedded capabilities without the need for a separate installation. Meanwhile, redundancies and integration efforts decrease while integrated functionalities advance.
Take, for example, your favorite sporting goods store. The business can get a real-time view of critical financial and resource availability by connecting its digital core with human capital management solutions running in the cloud. Core processes and analytics work as a unified unit to help find better ways to hire, retain, and engage the best store managers, merchandisers, and sales associates; understand local interests; and streamline the supplier network to ensure the right inventory levels to reduce costs. But more important, the company can focus today more on innovating future growth, and for years to come.
Unifying the digital mindset and platform to build future success
Innovation initiatives in most companies often run in fragmented silos that go in different directions. While a new process or business model may make sense to one team or organization, it does not necessarily mean that it’s beneficial for the entire enterprise. All innovation projects need to come together, using the same unstructured and structured information, technologies, and transactional data. Otherwise, any specific change introduced anywhere in the enterprise can be meaningless.
With a digital core serving as the engine for most processes, the application of new innovations further enriches the capabilities of the core and its connections. Removing parallel platforms that run redundant capabilities such as data storage and processing enables the business to build an IT architecture that is highly scalability, intelligent, mature, and low in total cost of ownership. Over time, this new dynamic opens the door to adopting more advanced technologies such as machine learning, predictive analytics, the IoT, and blockchain.
However, technology alone will not help a business achieve this state of unification. Most – though not all – cloud services alone do not deliver the DNA needed to deliver the right business processes and leverage the proper data to guide a smart innovation strategy. By tapping a digital business services provider, CIOs can shift an outdated ERP platform toward an architecture that supports a responsive evolution with simplification, predictability, and continuous connectivity.
For more on developing a digital strategy, see A Fresh Look At ERP Brings New Growth To Small And Midsize Businesses.