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The essence of integration in 2018

The essence of integration in 2018 is probably not what you think it is. It is not just about digital transformation. It is not just about ensuring that systems are all able to speak to each other in order to deliver exponential value. Granted, system integration is a major part of the essence of integration, but it is not what lies at its core.

This is a mistake that is made over and over. Technology does not lie at the core of integration. Technology enables it; technology makes it possible. But technology is merely a supporting act, not the star of the show.

The essence of integration can be distilled down to a simple and well known phrase, but first you need to understand a few critical components.

People

The glue that holds integration together. Not only are your people the most critical audience in communicating the reasons for digital transformation and integration of systems, but they are also the ones who will make it a success or a complete failure.

While we are starting to play with futures that involve robotics and are dehumanising the working class (that’s a separate blog post all on its own!), we still need to remember that people are at the hearts of every business. Whether it is a labour intensive business or not. People are habitual, people are emotional and people don’t like change.

These are the self-same people that you need to get on your side in driving digital transformation. These are the people that are habitually going through their days, following processes and systems that have been programmed in to them over year and year.

These are the people who get emotionally connected to their jobs; they sometimes find meaning and comfort in doing what they do. These are the people whose lives you are going to disrupt by making them do something differently (for better or worse).

A collaborative board

The board is either the biggest barrier or the greatest supporter of digital transformation. The trick is to make them understand that digital transformation is not something that only effects the IT department. It is not only driven by the marketing department.

Digital transformation is felt organisation wide and therefore needs to be organisationally led. If it is implemented in silos, it will succeed and fail in silos. For this reason it needs to be championed by each and every board member as it still has an effect on each of them.

Finance, operations, human resources, strategy, marketing, technology: each and every seat at the executive table needs to intimately understand what digital transformation means to them.

Processes

As I have highlighted throughout this article, the processes that have driven and governed your organisation since inception are at risk here. This is where the bulk of the work lies. Digital transformation and integration means that processes are going to change, processes are going to be broken and in some instances processes are going to be lost altogether.

Business processes need to be handled with extreme care and should be examined from every angle before the decision is made to change it.

Transforming your business is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It is not a “yes us too” strategy that you should be forced into because it is a cool buzzword around the boardroom table.

To conclude

The essence of digital transformation, as I have said, can be distilled down to one simple well known phrase: form follows function

If you understand the function of your process, of your business, of your integration, then you can begin to design its form around it. If you lead with form, if you lead with design, then the function gets lost and your digital transformation will not be successful.

Ensure that you have the correct vision in mind. Test your product and validate your business model before you begin to stress over what form it needs to take.

Feature image: Iker Urteaga via Unsplash

Author | Jonathan Houston

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan is passionate about digital strategy and the convergence of technology and marketing. As the General Manager for HKLM; a strategic brand and communications agency; Jonathan's work includes strategy creation, aligning brand strategy; customer and technology to fulfil an organisation-wide brand-led objective. In 2013 Jonathan’s first book “Internet Marketing... More

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