If you've been using marketing automation, then you're probably familiar with how powerful the tool is. Just imagine doing the same thing that a marketing automation workflow does without your marketing automation tool.
Forget it being a nuissance. It's impossible to keep track of every single lead and send them emails at regular intervals to nurture them, especially with how busy today's digital marketers get juggling diverse daily tasks. This is why marketing automation has become a godsend to the modern marketer.
But what if you can apply the same level of automation to other parts of your business? If marketing automation basically lets leads nurture themselves into customers, then can we automate our business to make money? The quick answer is - yes!
So many applications. So, why isn't everything automated yet?
Various software solutions have been developed in an effort to automate certain processes in a business. Reducing manual tasks has been a focus of several businesses as it allows them the same efficiency and productivity as our marketing automation-armed digital marketer.
You have applications that allow you to quickly generate quotations for projects, an accounting software to optimize the management of your finances, and Business Intelligence tools to see how you business is doing through various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
While it did optimize and automate a lot of processes, it also brought new problems. Different applications made by different softwarehouses were not compatible to be used with each other which meant that when processes encompass two or more software, there is a "break" in the process. The automatic flow of data stops and the employee is expected to do some manual task in order to transfer the data into the next software and continue to the next step of the process.
Think about processing a visitor until they become a customer. Let's say you have a digital marketing platform such as HubSpot that takes care of everything from capturing their contact info when they become lead, to nurturing them with HubSpot's marketing automation functions. Everything from visitor to becoming a sales-qualified lead has been covered under HubSpot. But the process is "broken" when the lead crosses the line and becomes a customer. You'll have to input the same customer data into your ERP to register their purchase. If you manage your sales qualified leads in a separate CRM, then the break happens much earlier.
So, as you can see, the lack of compatibility and interoperability between applications is now the newest frontier in business automation.
The solution: system integration
It's not about getting a new software. It's almost impossible to find one great big business suite that covers all the business processes of a company. Even if you do, some functionalities will have better alternatives, especially software that are specialized for a specific process or area.
The solution then is to integrate or "connect" your different applications that are involved in single processes. Let's take the same case of the visitor to customer process and complicate it a bit more by throwing in a Business Intelligence solution that derives reports of your business across your digital marketing platform and your ERP and CRM.
In this case, you can integrate each application as it follows the process: digital marketing platform to CRM, CRM to ERP and Business Intelligence to ERP and the digital marketing platform.
Now, a sales qualified lead is registered in your CRM and registers in your ERP once they become a customer. The Business Intelligence platform, through its integrations with the other platforms, can draw the information directly from the other applications in real-time, eliminating the need to extract Excel CSV files and uploading them for analytics.
System integration allows you to automate the "breaks" in the process that happen due to different software being used.
Your business may already have several areas automated due to the use of various software. In the past, having the best software covering certain processes bestow market differentiation either through efficiency or productivity gains.
Now however, nearly all organizations use various software to give themselves a competitive edge. This is why the next frontier where your organization can gain an advantage over your competitors is to have an integrated system that eliminates unnecessary manual tasks throughout your processes brought about by disconnected software.
Remember that just as a solid chain is only as strong as its weakest link, an organization's IT system is only as fast and automated as its disconnected points between applications.
Our more than 10 years experience as a system integrator has allowed us to come up with the perfect business IT model which, if adopted, will allow companies transform themselves into an automated revenue-generating machine. If you want to learn more, download our FREE ebook: The Three "I"s Playbook: IT Secrets for a Money-Making Business.