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Strategic Integration Needs a Plan

hyper connectedWe talk a lot about integration. That is, integration of your supply chain components with your enterprise operations and ERP. I don't believe that anyone thinks this is something that can simply happen because it's the best thing to do. The complexity of each of the processes and components that have already been put in place, and the amount of effort each required just to get them to the point of functionality can bring tears to the eyes of those who struggled through them - or at least cause a twitch of pain. The point is that the first steps were not simple ones.

Benoit Lheureux, Research Vice President at Gartner talks about "7 Things You Must Know About Integration" in a presentation he did with GXS. In his presentation he talks about the underlying notion that Gartner believes that businesses will be "Hyper-Connected." I like the term, but I also think that being hyper-connected is something that will only be achieved by the most successful businesses, and only those enterprises that create specific plans and devote the required resources to achieving those plans. 

In fact, I think that creating the plan itself is a significant enough hurdle that somewhere around 75% of companies that even contemplate the type of connectivity Lheureux describes will stop before they complete their plans. The reasons for my pessimism is that while your operations may be properly staffed to support development and operation of your current systems, full integration requires more than just functionality. It requires that the different operations and the leaders of those operations become highly versed in the operation and function - and the business purposes - of the systems they need to integrate with.

Over the last 6 months I've interviewed more than 150 CIOs and CEOs in various industries, and they universally talk about 2 common issues. The first is that technology leaders need to better understand their company's businesses, and the second is that the C-level leadership in the company needs to better understand the role and potential that technology can bring to the business. That tells me that leaders in both technology and line of business concentrate on their own issues to the exclusion of other things going on in their companies.

Gartner's Hyper-Connectivity is a wonderful concept, and may be the focal point of success for some companies. But those companies that have the foresight and fortitude to pursue this goal need to have a plan and a methodology to get there. I believe most companies need external help that is skilled in the specifics of integration to provide the leadership and education to get there.
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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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