Five key steps towards a connected enterprise

Here is your comprehensive five-step guide towards establishing and maintaining a truly connected enterprise

The ultimate trick to succeed on the business information superhighway, with its multifarious challenges, lies in the project being driven as a ‘Connected Enterprise’. To achieve this, it is paramount for users to not only fully understand the semantics of the term, but also discover how exactly the route being charted must be traversed with profitable results.

When embarking on a plan to become a connected enterprise, it is important to identify the various areas of opportunity – this could be related to consumer experience, supply chain execution, product innovation, employee experience, or supplier collaboration. From here, you can move to fill in information fields such as the data needed; level of digitisation; alignment of principal parties or entities; compatibility of the terms and frameworks; appropriate analytics to support employees relying on the data; and processes required to be automated.

While answers to all of these questions may not be easy to come by, well-executed moves at some stage of the connected enterprise will help users cross the resilience threshold beyond which challenges are significantly reduced.

In the pursuit of creating a connected enterprise, organisations need to understand that a combination of devices and software tools is just part of the solution. More critical inputs are required to address the multitude of business challenges.

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Business prescriptions

For sure, there is an acute need to carefully evaluate technology systems and processes to be used during the process of modernising the organisation.

What does this entail? The path taken must include the stakeholders being flexibly proactive. Innovations that continuously engage the attention of partners and end-users from concept to delivery stage are vital.This should all be underpinned by a tech stack that unifies information around a single source, to drive cross-team alignment and collaboration, and incorporate abilities within the organisational system to preempt tough situations, and also offering alternative devices to recover from economic troughs.

It is quite possible that the technological inputs being applied may not measure up to the firm’s requirements in the final outcome, leaving the organisation without the adaptability and innovation required in the current business environment.

It has also been frequently found that the ‘on the edge’ solutions may fall short of the right answers; and that sweeping, across-the-board feats of digital transformation may not necessarily be the correct option, thus contributing to the project’s negative outcome.

A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) pointed out that the failure probability of such initiatives was as high as 70 per cent. Following this, a Forbes Technology Council Expert Panel bolstered the previous view further by pointing to poorly defined goals as a common cause of failure.

The essential 5

While the temptation would be to embrace glitzy new tools as solutions, or to usher in a total transformation of the operational canvas, it is far more productive to aim for strengthening project linkages. In my view though, the following components must necessarily be embedded on the business journey.

1. Digitisation — transforming workplace culture

Firms across the world have increasingly begun to see an ocean of advantages introduced into businesses through digitisation — a process of converting information from a physical format to a digital representation that computers could employ to automate processes or workflows.

The benefits accrued include faster access to information; elevated customer experience; increased productivity; subtraction in operational costs; improved decision-making; greater information security; disaster recovery; and agility.

Bringing all data – digital and non – into the information basket, coupled with mainstreaming of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) not only provides businesses with analytical insights into areas such as raised efficiencies, but also helps them springboard to a competitive zone in the market.

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2. Connectivity — linkages for success

Equally vital to the success of any business platform is the ability to connect systems to systems, humans to systems, and internal systems with external collaborators, such as suppliers and consumers. Connectivity also extends to areas such as data extraction, and network-driven digital platforms such as blockchain, which can scale swiftly with more collaborators.

3. Exchange of data for a seamless value chain

This involves coordinating information sharing, by building useful bridges which enable data to be interpreted by all parties with necessary authorisation, leading to harmonisation, creation of internal discipline, and a smoother value chain.

4. Automation for predictability and productivity

Post-COVID shutdowns have revealed that the application of a wide range of technologies can substantially reduce human intervention in industrial processes. There is now a growing market for Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which drives a higher order of productivity and predictability, while low-code/no-code (LCNC) software development can further help streamline workflows.

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5. Augmentation — bolstering human capabilities

Delivering optimum support to the human decision-maker by combining various capabilities like basic and advanced analytics and machine learning, and contextual intelligence, augmentation is the digital superpower that serves to strengthen the objective of establishing a business field with strong linkages.

It’s not difficult to see why with the Essential 5 on your side, unleashing the power of the connected enterprise becomes easy.

Sateesh Seetharamiah is CEO – edge products at EdgeVerve, an Infosys company.


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