Tom Clark

Posted by:
Tom Clark
- Data & Analytics Practice Director, Sempre Analytics

A well-connected organisation is one that is in complete control of its data.

Organisations that have connected their data have successfully achieved:

  • Low latency when sourcing data
  • Well governed and documented data lineage and flows
  • Rapid data surfacing to those who need it when they need it
  • Known manageable and secure processes

Once this panacea has been realised, the organisation is free to confidently analyse, forecast and predict across all its operational functions, safely within GDPR, SOX and regulatory compliance. This improves existing processes, reduces risk and provides new ways to operate that increase resilience and efficiency.

It’s well known that repeated manual data keying is time-consuming, error-prone and hard to maintain. Inaccurate data leads to anything from imprecise production forecasts, incorrect staffing levels, misleading P&Ls and difficult out-of-stock situations. Even worse, when members of the team are off work those manual processes are at risk – an issue exacerbated by the pandemic with staff absent for long periods or company restructures taking away vital personnel. This loss of institutional knowledge inevitably results in frantic calls requesting immediate help from service providers to develop workarounds; not an ideal situation for anyone.

All too often, however, we still see organisations struggling with the basics, trying to find success with manual, high-risk integrations that involve error-prone, slow and laborious steps. At best, these integrations are based around a semi-automated copy of whole data sets between systems, possibly with batch files and FTP tasks. At worst, they involve people re-keying data into multiple systems. Even when these processes are semi-automated, the data lag means systems only update once a day, errors go unnoticed and valuable time is wasted unraveling issues…often unsuccessfully. But, resolving these issues doesn’t need to be a hugely complex program.

Planning the Connected Roadmap

The methodology and technology choice for connecting your data is key to success. An article by McKinsey in 2018 titled “The seven make-or-break API challenges CIOs need to address” highlighted the dangers of simply creating integrations without a strategy or a way to manage them. Simply implementing a data integration solution that allows rapid API development for point-to-point integration won’t answer any questions around the quality, governance, mastering and democratisation of data. And what about the legacy systems or processes that require some human interaction? These may require intelligent automation technology to bridge the remaining gap.

The first step to a better-connected organisation is always to define a roadmap that encompasses data storage, integration, usage, security, processes and, critically, people. You need to know where you’re going and ensure the whole organisation is behind the strategy. The end goal should aim at low latency, good quality data that’s secured and presented to individuals and third parties for easy consumption in all analytics, forecasting, predictive and business processes. Critically, people need to understand the importance of data, its impact on decision-making and their role in the process.  The essential foundation of data quality starts with them!

This understanding will raise new requirements around the conforming, mastering and managing of data. Therefore, selecting a supplier that has the right experience and can service all these requirements is critical to achieving a fully connected organisation.Positive Outcomes

One of our Sempre Analytics customers, a global manufacturing organisation, was struggling to source data from a diverse set of companies across hundreds of disconnected sites. The typically simple process of analysing product group sales across the group was proving too hard a task. Within just a few days, our work to deliver a cloud-based (iPaaS) platform had enabled data to be sourced and transformed into the existing corporate data warehouse every hour, enabling rapid, trusted decision-making.

We’ve also recently been working with a national housebuilder as part of their major digital transformation program, moving data processing and storage to a hybrid cloud solution. This allowed existing on-premise applications and data warehouses to seamlessly integrate with their cloud-based CRM, supplier systems and third-party applications. Orders from the marketing suite were entered, updated within the data warehouse and pushed to Rightmove within seconds. Onsite construction issues are tracked almost in real-time, providing early insights into contractors, improving production forecasting, reducing wastage and providing cost savings.

The finance team at another Sempre Analytics customer were delighted when we enabled them to reduce their month-end processing from several days to less than one!  They had previously been manually creating entries across multiple different financial systems, constantly mapping codes and hierarchies, and re-keying descriptions. Some of the systems were on-premise, whilst others were cloud-based. From Sempre helping them to implement an iPaaS technology, they were able to embrace a hybrid-cloud solution within a matter of weeks and receive real-time updates across their systems with data moving instantly.

Smarter Decisions with Connected Analytics

Achieving improved system integration removes multiple risks and improves the operational efficiency of the organisation enabling faster, smarter and confident decision-making. Connected data means: planning and forecasting cycles can be repeated without effort; analysis and insight times reduce; fulfillment times decrease; customer response rates improve; fewer people are needed to re-key data and fewer mistakes occur.

And, most importantly, the quality of self-service analytics created, and smarter decisions made as a result, is transformative

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