Building a Connected Enterprise

Organizations should establish a connected enterprise foundation. It just doesn’t happen overnight.

“A connected enterprise occurs when all lines of businesses are largely digitized and integrated,” says former Michigan State University CIO Joanna Young. This is similar to the authors of “Enterprise Architecture as Strategy,” who found connected enterprises have five inherent differentiators versus their competitors:

  1. A stable set of companywide business capabilities.
  2. The ability to respond to new marketing opportunities.
  3. Shared data that drives core business processes.
  4. Supporting integrations and automation technologies.
  5. The ability to consider customers regardless of channel.

Clearly, more is needed in business transformation today, but where organizations have established a connected enterprise foundation, they have the opportunity for competitive advantage.

Business Advantages of Establishing a Connected Enterprise

Young suggests the business advantages emanating from a connected enterprise include, “flexibility, speedier time-to-market, and better customer service. That being said, advantages are in the eye of the stakeholder and consumer.”

Mevotech CIO Martin Davis adds, “the advantage of a connected enterprise is it smooths the flow of processes and data. As well it makes for better communication and more efficient processes.”

This means, says Arts and Wellness CIO Paige Francis, “There end up being less steps and administrative touchpoints, more time to focus on mission.” In turn, University of Michigan CIO Carrie Shumaker claims “there is better customer experience which in turn means a better product. In higher education this results in better recruitment, higher retention and higher graduation.”

The key enabler of connected enterprise, suggests Thermo Fisher Scientific Enterprise Architect Ed Featherston, is “data and information that is available in a timely fashion to make necessary business decisions.” Summing things up, analyst Jack Gold says, “The benefit of connectivity is that you create a team environment where everyone has a stake in the total organization’s success, and not just a bunch of disjointed smaller groups that work on their own piece of the pie without a stake in the bigger picture.”

Related Article: How Should Organizations Consider Risk After the COVID-19 Crisis?

How Connected Enterprises Enable Better Employee Experience

Without question, a disconnected enterprise harms employee experience. It makes it harder to perform routine business tasks starting with employee onboarding.

Additionally, where employee business processes operate poorly, those supporting customers have to work harder to create a positive customer experience. This can result in customer facing personnel frustration and disillusionment. Given this, Young claims it is important that CIOs and other leaders work “to get the grit out of gears of what employees need to do and know most. CIOs should find out where the problems are by asking what employees most need fixed and what is the most painful to do.”

Clearly, less friction means less stress, and this can help create happier employees. Smart CIOs dig in on the employee process that most impacts employee engagement. Shumaker says, “A well running organization means there is less tribal knowledge needed to get things done. This means easier/speedier onboarding of new employees.”

Related Article: Is It Time to Combine Customer Experience and Employee Experience Programs?

Engineered Best Practices for Automating Operations

Additionally, having modular and standardized digitized services can create business agility. And this is critical to operating effectively in the digital era. For this reason, Featherston says, “For me, it all comes back to reuse, scale of operations, not wasting time/resources recreating one-off solutions. The process will never scale unless you are doing this.” Young adds, “Start by automating operations that have high frequency/low complexity. Modular, standardized and secure services can enable the scale to grow and mature automation. Important to start as it means to go on.”

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