We integrate where it matters

Pravin Tiwari Vice President

Through both rapid growth and acquisition, a fast-rising company had amassed 46 plants in 22 countries. Such a complex operation generated significant data that could be actionable and even analytically useful to business decision makers, yet warehousing, distribution and more all used different systems that did not talk to each other. All of which made getting a raw material spend report for the Chief Procurement Officer – which she needed for a company board presentation – a complete nightmare that took four days. So what’s a business to do when disparate systems make even simple reports a time-consuming, difficult task?

THREE BIG DATA CHALLENGES

In the IT universe, it’s easy to get caught up in the technical implications of the migration, consolidation, and integration of data. Of course, that’s part of the job. But, when it comes to the true usefulness of data, there can be no denying that its true value comes from its power to help business decision makers make smarter business decisions. But there are many challenges, including three big ones.

First, companies generate a large amount of data in their ERP, Order Entry, Inventory Management, Purchasing, Logistics and other systems. Simply managing the sheer amount of data can be intimidating without the right approach.

Second, many companies have multiple systems that are not integrated, or at least not integrated in a user-friendly way. This represents a tremendous barrier to even simple reporting, let alone complex and actionable data analysis.  In many cases, this lack of integration makes a meaningful analysis of data all but impossible.

Third, achieving true company-wide visibility can be a difficult to attain without integrated, data-based systems. Having to reference multiple views and documents in order to gain a complete picture of company analytics, such as spends, revenues, sales, and many other crucial metrics, simply wastes time and doesn’t provide a holistic view – the high-level overview that business decision makers need to steer their organization in the right direction.

Data Gathering Large amounts of data generation

Integration Multiple, Disparate Systems

Visibility Multiple views, document

Yes, data gathering, integration, and visibility are extremely challenging today. But they’re absolutely crucial to the business.

It’s serious business. What’s needed is a serious solution.

SO WHAT’S THE RIGHT TOOL?

So if we look at what tools are needed when big data and multiple systems are involved, with less focus on the technical side and the greater spotlight shining on what business leaders need to effectively lead their organization, there are some key requirements

  • Ability to retrieve and consolidate data from ERP systems and external data sources, regardless of the data volume or locations
  • Capabilities that streamline data gathering and warehousing
  • Data collection focused on several business figures like sales, product purchasing, product planning, product manufacturing, inventory, distribution, logistics and finance
  • Easy-to-use analytical features in order to efficiently manage operations 
  • Ability to mine data from various, even mismatched, systems, and gather all this type of information and make it available in one easily queried a database

Finding the right tool for data gathering, integration and visibility that can do all this and more can, in itself, be a challenge for IT. Fortunately, there is a solution that fits both the technical requirements of IT, and the needs of the business.

USING DATA FOR SERIOUS BUSINESS BENEFITS

When we look at the tangible outcomes for the business function of a company, there are some common scenarios that exemplify how integrated data can benefit any organization.

For instance, if a consumer goods company wanted to track on-time shipment performance, they would need a tool that would gather “planned ship dates” and “actual ship dates” by order, by customer, by shipping location, and by SKU. With this plethora of data available, the tool would have sophisticated ways to output actionable analytics. 

This analysis might yield insight that correlates with inventory availability.  After seeing this analysis, decision-makers at the company may wish to see the inventory performance against safety stock across time by SKU and by location. No problem… the database should be able to gather the available inventory by SKU, by location, and by time so it can be matched in an analysis against orders.  This, in turn, may drive analysis of first pass production performance against planned production by SKU and by location across time. 

This is a two-pronged example of the kind of analysis that companies need to perform that is often made difficult (if not impossible) due to outdated, mismatched, poor or unintegrated systems.

DATA INTEGRATION AND PURCHASING

At the heart of many organizations is the purchasing function, and data integration allow managers to analyze supplier performance and purchase spend.  Therefore, any data integration tool must be able to retrieve data on

  • Raw material consumption
  • Planned purchase orders
  • Actual goods receipts by SKU, by receiving location, and by supplier across time
  • Actual purchase orders
  • Planned goods receipts

DATA HOW AND WHEN YOU NEED IT

Ideally, this kind of information would be provided in a single format and with a single view. This would save crucial company time from going back and forth between documents, web browser tabs or computer programs. Most importantly, it would give business professionals the ability to analyze their data with all of it right in front of them, giving them the power to improve the company’s data flow with streamlined business intelligence.

Bottom line, these kinds of capabilities can help business leaders make forward-thinking decisions much more easily, and with greater confidence. Best of all, optimized data integrations and analytics would benefit everyone involved decision makers, employees in the field, business partners, and consumers.

SO WHAT’S THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB?

At Quinnox, our teams have worked on many integration projects for different clients, with several that faced some of the challenges outlined here. We saw a major need for a consolidated integration solution. Based on our expertise and assessing tools, and proactively evaluating those that fit the needs of the business function today, we have often recommended MOND™ as a cloud-based platform solution. MOND™ supports mission-critical exchanges of several hundred thousand documents every day. It is an enterprise data integration platform enabling the exchange of structured and semi-structured data with all kind of application owners, based on a semantic technology allowing any-to-any data transformation.

With MOND™, the business function can reap many advantages :

  • Seamless application integration with minimal coding
  • Removal of on-premise data translator and B2B middleware
  • Exchange of electronic business documents with entire trading partner community
  • End-end visibility across different Ordering / Logistics / Invoicing systems
  • Visibility to partners

All this and more can be gained with minimal effort and in a very short timeframe, especially with our highly expert MOND™ deployment teams.

ULTIMATELY, WHAT IS THE USE OF DATA?

An as the amount of data continues to grow and as companies amass new assets that use different systems, data Integration is now being recognized as a major problem in the business world. With an increasing number of data sources and applications to integrate in the business model, the complexity has grown exponentially. Unfortunately, many of today's data integration tools still follow cumbersome methodologies from years ago.

When we follow the technical line of exactly what an advanced and robust tool like MOND™ can do to solve these data integration woes, it’s easy for an IT professional to come to the conclusion that it’s the right tool for the job.

But, in reality, much more important to the C-suite are business outcomes. Given that priority, it’s clear that today’s businesses need solutions like MOND to remain competitive, make smart business decisions, and keep their companies on an upward path to progress.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pravin is Vice President, at Quinnox and has more than 26 years of management and consulting experience with some of the best names in the industry. He possesses significant international experience in leadership roles, managing sales of products and services across verticals and geographies and building long-term quality relationships with key clients in the industry.

ABOUT QUINNOX

Quinnox is a NIMBLE and AGILE technology-driven business services enablement partner to forward-thinking enterprises. We drive digital business value, enable industry platforms and solutions, and simplify business processes. Quinnox has engaged in several major verticals, with expert teams that have highly specialized industry experience in financial services, manufacturing, and retail and consumer goods.  As a midsize company, we focus on helping customers benefit and gain a competitive advantage from our "sweet spot" in unmatched expertise and enhancing the customer experience.