Why integration must be the foundation for digital change

Mat Rule, CEO and founder of Toca, discusses the need for proper integration of tech when it comes to digital transformation initiatives

Digital transformation is critical for organisations to survive in an increasingly competitive business landscape. However, adopting state of the art technology in the name of digital transformation can be futile if it is not properly integrated into existing systems. Nobody knows this better than Walkers — last year, the food manufacturer faced supply disruption after an IT upgrade. Production was halted for more than a week, as supermarkets struggled to get hold of the popular crisps that usually line their shelves.

Getting caught up in new and exciting technologies and forgetting to consider the implications for existing systems can result in major problems that cause headline news and leave customers unable to access services – or in Walkers case, buy their favourite snack. Embarking on an IT project that is set to transform your business is all well and good, but integration must be the foundation for digital change.

IT as Frankenstein’s Monster

According to McKinsey, two out of every three major technology programmes go over budget, miss deadlines, and fail to fully deliver on the demands of the business. This leads many organisations to be hesitant about taking on large scale IT projects, with integration also a major source of fear. Take the telco industry as an example, where 70% of operators said integration with legacy technology is their number one barrier to digital transformation.

Poor integration across the business is not the sole responsibility of IT and CIOs. Often, technology teams are handed vague objectives, an organisation has limited change management capabilities, or there are too many demands for customisation of technology. Past failed IT projects or those that change drastically in scope from what was initially envisioned have left organisations with IT environments that resemble Frankenstein’s Monster. Features have been bolted-on over the years, with those responsible for them moving on from the business and leaving IT leaders unsure of their system’s interdependencies or how it even works. The IT stack has also increased in complexity with each business merger or acquisition.

The rapid pace of today’s digital economy demands that organisations push forward with digital transformation. It is unsustainable for them to halt their plans for fear of poor integration with existing systems leading to an IT failure. Competitors will certainly not hold back, so organisations need to find a way to integrate new technologies, applications and data at pace, without creating long term business problems. Integration must be seen as not just the foundation for change, but also, when done right, a formula for success.

Change doesn’t have to mean overhaul

Typically, enterprises have embarked on large, monolithic projects that take time, and have much complexity involved. Taking a smaller, more agile approach can help increase their ability to deliver change and growth in a safe, risk-free way. To achieve this, businesses should look to a no code application development approach. Instead of ripping out reliable legacy systems that have worked for decades for the next ‘big thing’, organisations can integrate new applications into everyday processes.

A no code application development approach can be woven into the business to enable control of any system, shaping of any data, and automation of any process, while providing building blocks that can be reused to solve a variety of business problems. This addresses the integration challenge, as systems can be connected without being tampered with, helping dramatically lower risk during transformation. Integration has traditionally fallen under the remit of developers, who must connect legacy systems, modern applications and APIs. In this way, a no code application development approach can also speed innovation, as developers’ time will be freed up to focus on creating new functionality that services the business.

Enable continuous transformation

Organisations that fail to adapt in the era of fast business will fall short of competitors, customer expectations and business requirements. While integration is a key concern when it comes to digital transformation, it shouldn’t be a barrier. Integration of data, new applications and technologies can be simple and immediately effective through a no code application development approach. By moving to a more agile innovation method, organisations can create a constant stream of new applications that seamlessly integrate with existing systems to streamline business processes and reduce the risk and cost of change.

Written by Mat Rule, CEO and founder of Toca.io

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