The Connected Enterprise is an essential system for creating a profitable company in the modern era.
The global pandemic highlights what successful businesses know: a Connected Enterprise is essential to compete, survive, and thrive in a digital economy.
The Connected Enterprise harnesses digital transformation to increase insights, productivity, and customer experience across every department. For most businesses, the ERP or should be at the core of this. It’s the foundation for managing transactions, real-time insights, and growth at all times.
Businesses all too often accept the pains of being disconnected. They’re reluctant to incur the cost of change. This is short term thinking. The ROI from becoming an organization committed to digitalization (becoming connected) are indisputable and widely published.
While some organizations may understand the importance of becoming a Connected Enterprise, they may lack the skills to make it happen. In this blog entry, we offer a way of breaking it down.
The connected enterprise is comprised of four vital elements:
Each of them represents an essential aspect of competing and thriving as a business. Read on to discover what each element means and how neglecting it could be costing your business.
Most companies understand the importance of the Core. But many fail to address it in a way that will scale with the business. Neglecting to centralize and automate the core transactional data of the company on a modern ERP solution is a crucial mistake. It’s impossible to scale a business efficiently without the ERP as the trusted source of truth.
Many organizations put off getting a core ERP system in place. They live with the costly pains associated with delaying this for too long. It is a mistake to live with software that does not integrate transactional activity throughout the vital cycles of the operation. Managers put the business at risk by doing this and deny themselves efficient access to the other 3 Cs – Connect, Communicate, and Control!
Enterprises that do not have a strong Core system spend countless and needless hours reconciling, validating, and verifying information. For example, areas within the accounting function where this is evident are:
The consequences of lagging information are bad for business. It causes increased efforts to close out a financial period. Audiences (internal management, owners, and banks) can’t trust the information and are unable to make timely decisions due to inconsistent data.
A business will realize vast benefits from unifying on a core ERP system. Then it’s positioned to transform into a modern, connected digital enterprise.
In high-performing companies, people, processes, systems, and the Core operate in lockstep with each other because they are Connected.
‘Connection’ is essential for making sure the entire business ecosystem leverages and contributes to the Core. The Core ERP is the system-of-record for the business. It’s the source of truth for all transactional data including areas like service, sales, and marketing. However, outside the ERP system, there are more key stakeholders, processes, and other systems. Examples are E-commerce platforms, trading partners, suppliers, shipping and logistics providers, and more. These entities must be electronically connected to the Core and to some extent with each other.
Access to vital information can take too much time to obtain without the right tools when teams and business units are geographically dispersed or working from home. It introduces overhead, for example, when Warehouses and Purchasing don’t have access to the same data. There is excessive communication as each department tries to understand what is going on in the other. When transactions fail to flow efficiently with trading partners or suppliers there are chargebacks and lost business. Are we all working with the same data at the same time? Is that data in lockstep with the Core?
Critical channels such as E-commerce must stay synchronized with the Core or risk lost sales and damaged customer confidence. In the current economic environment where most sales are online, the lack of Connection can be deadly.
Communication has always been at the heart of the business. How we communicate continues to evolve. In the current environment, people are not meeting face-to-face and require efficient interaction. The interaction needs to happen over more centralized channels. When channels are decentralized across email, spreadsheets, phone, paper, fax (yes fax), chat, etc. the result is excessive communication where the essential information gets obscured and confused.
Most communication between people in daily operations involves or is enhanced by data. Most of this data resides on the Core. It is completely possible to include core data automatically in communications via connections that have been established.
Organizations that struggle to include timely and accurate data in human interactions are at a disadvantage. Critical cycles like Quote to Cash, Purchase to Pay, Plan to Inventory, Forecast to Delivery, Design to Production, Service Call to Invoice function inefficiently. It creates unnecessary overhead when the channel for communication is not in sync with the Core. These cycles break down when the communication of information between people is paper-based or stuck in email.
It should seem obvious at this point that control of business would be a very hard thing to maintain without a central Core system of record; Connections between that core and people, processes, and other systems; and the ability for people to communicate efficiently via those connections with accurate, timely data.
Without the aforementioned 3 Cs, the 4th C, Control, can not be attained. In an economy running on digital rails, this is deadly. Daily operations where everyone feels engaged and energized are great and that might feel like control. But it’s only an illusion of control without addressing the 4 Cs.
Control is the ability to make decisions based on the most timely and accurate information available. ‘Instantaneous’ is the standard today. This is what digitalization enables. It’s not just a matter of thriving as a business, it’s a matter of being in the game at all. ‘Accurate’, ‘easy’, ‘instantaneous’ must be the words that describe information management in your growing business in this digital age. Real control is possible in such a Connected Enterprise.
Senior managers are in control when they can quickly understand and approve margins and discounts on products to capture fast-breaking opportunities.
Forecasting is in control when precise order activity and inventory status can be viewed and updated by stakeholders from wherever they are. Companies that are unable to forecast and make reasonable assumptions about the market will fall victim to even normal fluctuations.
Accounts Payable is in control when purchase request and invoice review and approval flow seamlessly through the organization.
Trading partner relationships are in control when EDI activity is uninterrupted, readily visible, and manageable.
Customer satisfaction is in control when service transactions and associated billing cycle times are accurate and predictable.
Simply put, enterprises that prioritize Core, Connection, Communication, and Control capture opportunity. They respond to demand at high speed and higher profitability.
Third Wave Business Systems can help. We are your partner in implementing the 4 Cs, drawing on over 20 years of experience working closely with small and mid-sized businesses.
To learn more about how SAP Business One, Versago, and Bizweaver can transform your business into a Connected Enterprise, schedule a customized demo with one of our professionals today
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