Surviving The Hyperconnected Economy With Data Integration

David Sweetman

A recent SAP-sponsored study from The Economist Intelligence Unit examines how businesses are dealing with the rise of hyperconnectivity, defined as “the sharp increase in interconnectedness of people, organizations, and objects that has resulted from three consecutive waves of technology innovation: the Internet, mobile technology, and the Internet of Things (IoT).”

With input from 561 executives from around the world, the results are a fascinating look at how organizations across a range of industries understand and manage their businesses in today’s hyperconnected digital landscape – and how they could be doing better.

Time to step up

Leadership surveyed agrees that failure to adapt can be fatal, that hyperconnectivity can ultimately do more good than harm, and that they’re taking it in stride and adjusting their businesses accordingly. That last bit, however, may just be wishful thinking for now. As it turns out, only 19% of respondents expect to actually put in place the kind of radical change needed to truly strive in this new economy, and only 39% have even gone so far as to introduce digital skills training within their organizations – something that, simply put, should be standard by now.

Change does take time, but it’s important not to go too slow. Innovation must be embraced every step of the way to avoid getting left behind. That’s why it’s surprising to learn that most executives perceive the Internet as still “having more potential to be revolutionary than mobile technology and IoT,” especially considering the immense potential – for all of us, in almost any industry – in these fairly nascent fields. And yet, “even among manufacturers, only 61% believe that IoT will have a revolutionary or significant effect,” despite the fact that these new technologies are sure to have enormous impacts on their organizations and product or services.

Digital transformation touches everyone

If that sounds unfamiliar or unrelated to your business, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s true that – up until now – digital transformation has affected certain industries much more than others. Retail especially has grappled with the challenges of rapidly and drastically changing their business practices to keep up with advancing technologies, unprecedented user behavior, and fundamental alterations to the ways in which they work. But retail just happened to be first.

Businesses across the fields of consumer goods, finance, insurance, and beyond are discovering a real need to catch up before they risk becoming irrelevant. What’s more, most of them are sitting on heaps of data, which, when used skillfully and with intention, can truly transform what it is they offer and the ways in which they interact with customers. And these days, we’re lucky to have more helpful tools at our disposal than ever before.

Seizing the opportunity

A smart starting point is creating a vision for how the digital economy can differentiate you from your competition. Bringing business and technology teams together early on to drive innovation can ensure successful momentum while using strategic advisory services can help organizations learn from the experiences of others.

Truly successful digital transformation necessitates a secure platform for development around high speed data analytics paired with highly accountable service and support. Few companies, though, are able to independently provide the kind of accountability needed across all elements of technology, support, and service; choosing to focus on one area reduces risk and provides long-term sustainable solutions. Leadership must prioritize the integration of processes, people, and platforms to set their workforces on the right track – and help to do so is readily available.

Data integration is key

Indeed, data services has exploded as a field in its own right. With the help of our ever-evolving technological landscape, the need to efficiently and deliberately sort through the immense floods of data facing large organizations has spawned an array of solutions. As we’ve gathered from the Economist study, however, companies have been somewhat slow on the uptake when it comes to digital disruption; understandable, considering those whose daily operations span thousands upon thousands of employees across the globe – adding just another reason as to why proper data integration and management is so essential.

Whatever the cause – complex, disconnected processes, an inability to keep up with new, incoming data streams and tech capabilities, or simply a lack of strategy – big, large-scale organizations need help contextualizing and connecting information across all areas of business. The world of data migration can be complex, but by using proven tools and techniques across internal and external processes, companies can reduce complexity and ensure greater agility as requirements change. As a result, decision-making becomes more powerful and informed, collaboration across teams and departments becomes more streamlined and effective, and higher levels of success soon become a reality.

All it’ll take is a serious commitment to implementing innovative technologies across the board. No one said these kinds of changes would be easy, but to succeed in the modern economy, they’re flat-out necessary. Fjord founder Mark Curtis has this advice: “Companies need to become more agile, with less rigid hierarchies, if they are to evolve at the pace of hyperconnectivity … The real need is for companies to become like gas – formless beasts that exist to cater for constantly changing customer demand.”  Sounds like a good Halloween costume – and a heck of a lot of work. Are you up for the challenge?

Click here to read the full study from the Economist Intelligence Unit – Hyperconnected Organizations: How Businesses Are Adapting to the Hyperconnected Age, and here to learn more what SAP is doing to facilitate and accelerate digital transformation

David Sweetman

About David Sweetman

David Sweetman is a Senior Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He is an accomplished software executive applying extensive business experience to develop and execute global product vertical and channel strategies that drive results. David has hands-on 360-degree experience of the software marketing, channels, sales, development and delivery processes.