Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Are we overselling the value of Integrated systems?

Many of us have two separate aspects to our lives: Our Work World  and Our Non-Work World.
In our non-work world, we use smartphones constantly. Each phone has dozens of, apps that each do one thing extremely well:  
  • A weather app helps keep you dry and bundled up wherever you are;
  • A social media app has replaced the need for newspapers;
  • A media app lets you bypass the social media filter;
  • A cab-hailing app gets you from A to B, pronto;
  • A music app helps you spin session go smoothly;
  • Your airline app lets you check in for your flights easily;
  • The list goes on - and is different for each person.  
These apps do not talk to each other, yet they are incredibly helpful as they focus solely on your preferences and needs.
They are certainly not integrated!

In our work world, we are likewise heavily dependent on technology.  Here, however, the technology is NOT focused on you.  Your company (or agency, or institution, or department, etc.) has spent a significant amount of money to provide a suite of secure, protected, intrusion-proof systems to enable the business to proceed easily and within the standards of the business.  This appears to be a solved problem.  Logic implies that a business's systems are integrated - that would be a key to its success!
When reviewing your business's practices, the evidence shows that you are succeeding despite a lack of integration.
  • Emails in Outlook or GMail are not integrated;
  • Excel spreadsheets are not integrated and provide a means for data to land in insecure areas;
  • Storing files in a common location is a start to integration, that needs to link to the data that relates to the file.  For example a photo or video of an associate should be visible when that associate's data is being viewed;
  • Repetitive assembling monthly reports from disparate, disconnected systems is an indicator of lack of integration.

So, what are examples of real integration?
  • You initiate an email from within your data - and have the email link to that data for others to see;
  • You build and use data tables to manage your data - and have auditability for each change of significant data;
  • You attach your files to a data item - so that these files are available to team members when they look at that data;
  • You create a process to consistently assemble your monthly report data in order to be consistent and predictable;
It's not hard to see that Integration increases opportunities for improving all aspects of a business's performance.  So, why is integration not the norm?
That is a subject for another blog.

Let's get integrated!

Note: Trade names mentioned in this post are the property of their respective owners.

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