Digitalization 101: from data integration to cloud adoption

Eddie Heijblom

Once you have identified and defined the processes that can be improved in your business, it is time to roll up your sleeves and get started with digitalization. We’ve compiled tips that will help you in this endeavor.

Connect data (even if they come from different databases)

Connecting data is often the key to an efficiency boost. Imagine you manage a fleet of delivery trucks, each equipped with sensors collecting data on fuel consumption, engine performance and routes. Collecting and connecting this data allows you to predict maintenance needs, optimize routes, and manage fuel usage more effectively. As a result, you reduce downtime, cut costs, and ensure timely deliveries, leading to a more streamlined and profitable operation.

Also, you’re able to improve customer service by combining maintenance data with customer purchases and satisfaction data. There are several ways to achieve this – for example, through middleware, web services, and APIs.

These options require experts in different fields. Let them explain the possibilities, pros and cons, so you can choose the option most fitting for your business.

   

Make processes leaner

If you use fewer tools, you will increase efficiency and be more scalable. A much sought-after goal, but it is recommended that you take up one initiative at a time rather than starting a major, time-consuming replacement process.

By working on processes in short intervals, you will grow in an efficient manner, and your stakeholders and employees will quickly witness the results of digitalization. Once they’ve seen how it helps your organization move forward, they will be on board every step of the way.

Create a supportive, digitalization-friendly culture

You need to come up with an internal process that effectively deals with digitalization. Your organizational structure and company culture should support the quick development, testing, and going live of digital initiatives. Lean agility and speed are key in this regard.

    

Work towards business models that incorporate digital from the very start

Whatever it is that you’re selling – from machinery to raw materials – hiring top-notch salespeople to work from your traditionally set-up office will not suffice if you want to meet your targets. Most of your prospects will look for price information online and opt for a time-saving way of purchasing – for example, through their own customer portal.

To attract and convert leads, you need to create new, smart business models and develop digital tools to retrieve useful information from your online (sales) data.

    

Opt for a cloud solution

If you want to be a part of the digital revolution, a cloud solution isn’t an option – it’s a must, as it eliminates the well-known hardware and software hassles. Opt for a party that can provide you with the entire cloud stack, which includes everything you need to run a web application in the cloud: from a server and database software to the application itself.

Common IT concerns such as security and data traffic should be included, so you won’t have to worry about them. You need to be able to instantly focus on getting digitalization off the ground, hassle free.

What does it mean in practice?

Does all of this still seem a little abstract? We’ll give you some real-life examples to make it more tangible.

    

Digital transformation: save time, gain efficiency

A financial service provider must report to the nation’s Financial Supervisor on the various financial products in its portfolio. These Solvency Reports are extremely comprehensive and complex, and one portfolio can have over 500 different financial products that require reporting. Manually gathering information for Excel sheets, carried out quarterly, often took up two days of an employee’s precious time – per client. In short, it was a time-consuming, repetitive, non-uniform, uncontrollable, yet highly important task.

So, the bank in question decided to make its own custom reporting tool that automatically determines which information is needed before gathering all relevant data, based on which it makes the required calculations. Ultimately, the tool generates the report, which is ready to be delivered.

Reporting digitalized: keep stakeholders involved and up-to-date

A company’s stakeholders demand that they are kept up to date on the progress of their application for a product. Different departments within the organization look at such applications. Each used to send an email once a step in the process was completed.  

This process was flawed in several ways:

  • Applicants were usually stakeholders from outside the company and wouldn’t receive the updates; only their case manager would.
  • Departments often forgot to send updates, leaving stakeholders in the dark on the current status.
  • Case managers had to deal with many client questions and kept replying to status request emails – even when there were no status changes.

The company evaluated this process and decided to digitalize the entire flow. Now, the departments involved use a status update tool, which grants access to case managers and clients, and which sends out notifications.

The benefits: endless email strings are in the past, customers are happy, and any bottlenecks in the process are detected immediately.

Combining data: the key to success

A large food retail company deals with mergers, legacy systems, and changes in (de)centralized business profiles regularly. Among other things, this meant that data on suppliers was stored in different systems. The result was a lack of overview, which cost a significant amount of money – for example, when contracts were renewed automatically and the chance to renegotiate was lost.  

The contract manager of the organization in question decided that he wanted to approach suppliers proactively in the renegotiation phase of contracts. Therefore, the organization made a tool to combine data retrieved from various systems. Within this tool, rules were created to send notifications regarding suppliers or contracts that deserve extra attention. The company has since enjoyed several benefits: not only does it have a complete overview, it also saves time and money while putting in less effort.

Conclusion

In short, you should first determine the processes that qualify for digitalization. After that, shape up your digitalization plans step by step. Then, opt for a cloud solution, connect data, make processes leaner, and create a supportive company culture. If you follow these tips, you should be able to optimize your processes and embark on a fruitful digitalization journey.

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