Almost every company is embarking on some sort of digital-transformation initiative – reshaping the relationships between employees and business processes and the technology that supports them. At the heart of any digitally transformed operation is data – data about your company’s operations, data about your customers and suppliers and data about your environment.
What makes digital transformation so powerful is that it optimizes the way people interact with data by using technology to integrate different data sources in support of processes and decision making. A successful digital-transformation initiative begins with data integration.
The role of data before digital transformation
Before digital transformation, there was a clear delineation between the activities people performed in support of business processes and the technological processes and systems that supported them. Data was created in the physical world and recorded in the digital world. The interfaces where these worlds intersected (forms, screens, Web pages, etc.) were very specific in their designs to capture data from one world and transmit them to the other. While this worked okay to enable people to use technology in support of business processes, it also served to reinforce the separation. In that environment, the flow of data both between people and machines and across the organization became the ultimate constraint to productivity and process performance.
Digital transformation changes everything
The main concept behind digital transformation is removing the preconceived notions of barriers between people and technology being necessary and, instead, re-imagining an environment where humans and technology freely interact in support of business processes. With digital transformation, there are no business processes and IT processes, just processes. The structured interfaces (forms, screens, Web pages, etc.) between the physical world and digital world are replaced with a new set of capabilities enabling users to interact freely with data in an immersive manner. Within this new environment, data silos that were built for functional IT systems where data is stored are replaced with enterprise data, which policies and role-based access controls manage.
Why integration is important for digital transformation
Data integration is an essential part of your digital-transformation journey. Integration is the tool to help you eliminate the silos and re-factor user interfaces. Without doing this, you won’t be able to achieve your company’s vision of modernized technology-embedded processes. By addressing integration at the start of your digital-transformation initiative, you will be able to create a new/modern data platform upon which to build your new processes. Because you are integrating instead of consolidating source systems, your legacy and new processes can co-exist through the transformation process.
Integration and business agility
Once your digital-transformation initiative is complete, the focus of your organization will shift from transformation to achieving business agility to sustain continuous evolution and the re-invention of your processes. Data integration helps you achieve agility by decoupling your processes from individual IT systems, applications or components. New systems can be added to your environment and old ones can be removed freely, but your enterprise data can remain stable and secure. Business agility also refers to making on-the-spot business decisions that are informed by real-time information insights. Data integration enables your operations staff and company leaders to see what is occurring across the company, monitor for changes and identify areas rapidly that require immediate attention.
Digital transformation is an ambitious goal for any company – moving beyond the constraints of the past and reimagining an environment where people, processes, data and technology interact freely in support of your company’s goals. Data integration is an important part of taking the vision of digital transformation and making it a reality. Actian DataConnect can help by giving you the tools you need to connect anything, anytime and anywhere. To learn more, visit www.actian.com/dataconnect.