Software integration can be the savior of your business operations. For all of the software that you have in place in your business to track data, automate processes, or optimize your operations, you forfeit much of its value if you can’t get all of the individual pieces of software to talk to one another.
Without software integration, the processes that are supposed to get “smarter” with machine help such as sales and accounting processes end up requiring manual effort to input, import, or export data. In short, software integration that is poorly implemented can create more work and therefore have hidden costs. It can wind up only supplying you with incorrect data while not making your team’s work-life any easier.
Software Integration for Business Growth
Just because your business is growing, it doesn’t mean your business software has to be replaced. It just needs to be introduced to the newer business software that you’ve picked up along the way. Integration can help you do this. When software integration is done well, it can truly change the trajectory of your company’s business development. By using a business intelligence (BI) platform that’s tailored to your company’s needs and style of work, you can create a single point of truth to make business decisions. You’ll no longer have data points that imply different things.
You shouldn’t look at software integration as merely integrating multiple sources of data; a well-done integration can do so much more for your team and your business. We like to recommend three tactics to help you get more out of your software integrations and maximize your business potential:
- Integrate tools across all departments
- Use a data warehouse
- Build mobile dashboards
Integrate tools across all departments
Every department has valuable information that helps the business succeed, so when it comes to software integration, consider it a way to effectively combine the different data sources from all of the departments in your organization. If you want to grow your business, you’ll need to be looking at data across marketing, sales, product, business development, and more.
The only way to implement this tactic successfully is to take a holistic view of your business. What data do you need, and where do you need to go to get it? At this point, it’s a good idea to bring in a business mentor. A business mentor is someone who is experienced within a particular area of business. Find a mentor who has accomplished the same process with a product or company similar to your own and learn from their experience. Once you’ve identified the best information you need, look at what data you need to see alongside it. Keep in mind the result you are seeking and take a step it backward order to find the right data sources to get there.
Data cleaning is the process of prepping your datasets for reporting purposes. This step is often overlooked, but it is a critical part of data analytics since it turns your raw datasets into a goldmine of value. By cleaning your datasets, you identify and fix incomplete data, remove duplicates, fix data that’s improperly formatted due to manual entries, and more.
The process can get complicated, especially when you have multiple departments working towards one data collection point. It’s vital that you implement data standardization and cleaning features so that all of the data from points A, B, and C arrive at point D in the same format and with the fewest possible errors. There are two ways you can make sure that you create clean data to display in your teams’ dashboards—normalizing and standardizing data.
Normalizing data eradicates errors such as extra spaces and incorrect date formats. It can also ensure that uppercase and lowercase text is made uniform where it needs to be. By using a normalizing feature as part of your software integration, you ensure that all of your text data is uniform.
A standardizing feature makes sure that anything that had the same meaning but has been spelled differently or abbreviated differently is collected and standardized so it all appears the same. For example, “The United Kingdom,” “UK,” “U.K.,” and “U.K.” would all appear as “United Kingdom.”
Once you’ve streamlined how you clean your data, you’ll be able to combine your data across departments seamlessly. As a result, you’ll be able to glean the insights that the entire set of data, from every area of your business, can bring you.
Use a Data Warehouse
A data warehouse allows you to gather all of your company’s data into one place before it’s transformed into readable and actionable resources to help you make optimal, informed business decisions. Data warehouses offer many advantages that not all businesses know how to leverage when they’re doing software integration.
Benefits of a data warehouse
By using a data warehouse, you ensure that all data from all departments gets archived, not deleted. So each time you update your data, you’ll always have the potential to go back and look at older data. It means you don’t need to worry about exporting copious amounts of spreadsheets or reports and storing them on your company cloud. Your data warehouse looks after all of that for you.
Data warehouses also provide a tremendous amount of reliability. As companies integrate new software, huge fears arise just around the process itself. “What will happen to our data while we’re going through the process? Will we lose data? Will our processes keep running as usual?” Data warehouses take those kinds of worries away.
A data warehouse also saves you from having to rewrite interfaces between applications and going “offline” if you’re introducing a new tool into your company’s toolset. It keeps your data flowing and gives you the ability to implement new data sources while you gradually fade out old ones. No lost data, no time offline, no worries.
Use Mobile Dashboards
As great as it is to be able to see all of your data on the big screen, we’re not always at our desks. Accessing our data and the insights it provides needs to be as mobile and agile as we are. Mobile dashboards are vastly overlooked as a resource but can be a tremendous enhancement to your software integration.
What can a mobile dashboard do?
Mobile dashboards can save you time, reduce errors, and keep you informed, effortlessly. You can set automated alerts when certain data comes in or remind you to check your business analytics wherever you are. Taking this a step further, you can create a mobile interface that you can not only view but interact with. Export PDFs, drill down into the data, send reports by email—whatever you need to do that can’t wait until you get back to your desk.
Having a mobile dashboard makes your data available to you, your team, and anyone else you choose to include—on the go. It enables your team to be more data-minded and to reference data much more quickly than turning on a laptop. You get the most out of the resources that you’re building.
A resource to go alongside the mobile app is a knowledge base system. This resource can serve as a knowledge hub to remind your team how they can use their mobile dashboards. It can guide them through navigating the dashboard and act as an onboarding resource for anyone visiting your mobile dashboard for the first time.
Wrapping up: Expanding Benefits of Software Integration
If you are considering using software integration to gather, lift, and act upon your business data, then I hope this article has given you some useful information to consider. Make the most of your data.
Integrating platforms is just the beginning of building a business that is data-driven, making optimal, data-informed decisions. But don’t stop there. Maximize your business potential by empowering your team by integrating data across departments, establishing the reassurance of a data warehouse, and providing data on the go.
You’ll start to see teams working less siloed and less focused on just their specific goals—and more focused and engaged with your larger business goals. It’s a great move for any business that’s serious about growth.