How Mid-Sized Firms Can Harness Data for Success

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In today’s challenging economic climate, businesses of all sizes are seeking ways to gain a competitive edge and optimise efficiency. For mid-sized enterprises, the key to success increasingly lies in the effective integration and automation of their data systems. This trend is underscored by Oracle’s recent findings, which indicate that improving application integration strategies is a top priority for chief operating officers in 2024.

Daniel Chilcott, Managing Director at Flowgear, argues that while automation is widely understood, the concept of integration—connecting various apps and services within an organisation and with external partners—is often overlooked. Yet, it’s crucial for streamlining operations and maintaining data consistency across departments.

Traditionally, large corporations held an advantage due to their ability to invest in expensive integration tools. However, recent developments have democratised access to these technologies. “In recent years, we have seen a levelling of the playing field as these tools become more accessible to medium-sized businesses as well,” Chilcott notes.

The risks of neglecting integration are significant. Businesses may face delayed information processing, high rates of data errors, and a detrimental impact on customer satisfaction. As Forbes points out, customer retention can be the difference between thriving and going under.

Moreover, as organisations grow, a lack of integration can lead to data silos, where different departments operate with disparate versions of information. This fragmentation can result in poor decision-making at the organisational level.

Chilcott warns against relying on outdated methods such as manual data entry, custom development scripts, or inflexible citizen integration tools. These approaches can be slow, inaccurate, and increasingly expensive as a company scales.

Fortunately, the rise of cloud-based solutions has made sophisticated integration tools more accessible to mid-sized firms. Platforms like Flowgear now offer affordable options that were once the preserve of large enterprises with deep pockets.

However, implementing an integration strategy requires careful planning. Chilcott advises businesses to view integration as having a lifecycle, similar to software. “While organisations need to move quickly with regards to integrating their data, they then need to slow down on the changes they make,” he explains. This is because frequent changes can have far-reaching impacts as a business becomes more complex.

Before selecting an integration platform, Chilcott recommends creating a catalogue of all apps and services used within the organisation. This inventory should include details on the types of data each app contains, update frequencies, and which departments rely on specific datasets.

When it comes to implementation, mid-sized firms must decide between self-service, outsourcing, or a hybrid approach. Chilcott cautions against self-managing an integration platform if the IT department is already stretched thin. Many of his clients opt for a co-building approach, which provides a balance of independence and expert guidance.

While integration and automation are essential for business success, they require thoughtful planning and execution. As Chilcott concludes, “While they do require a fair amount of planning and thought, the long-term benefits for business sustainability are well worth the effort.”

In an era where data drives business decisions, mid-sized enterprises that successfully implement integration and automation strategies can level the playing field with larger competitors. By carefully considering their approach and leveraging new cloud-based tools, these firms can position themselves for sustainable growth and success in an increasingly complex business landscape. As Oracle’s research suggests, this focus on integration is not just a trend, but a crucial strategic move for businesses looking to thrive in 2024 and beyond.

Read next: The Imperative for Data-Driven Enterprises: Integration and Automation



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