In April 2022, Forrester gave three organizations its Return on Integration Honors award—ArcBest, FARO Technologies, and Siemens Digital Industries Software. Forrester recognized them for their success in integrating their marketing, sales, and product functions to align business goals and achieve measurable results—including increased productivity.
The benefits of integration are known and include better productivity, increased savings, reduced risk of error, stronger customer loyalty, and a stronger foundation for the future.
Here are ten ways integrating your data systems can help you improve productivity for employees and the business.
1. Avoid app fatigue with one digital workspace
Switching between many apps and interfaces can get tiresome and slow workers down as they learn or remember how to navigate each independently designed app or online service. Application integration platforms connect all your most strategic workforce apps into one simplified interface to make that process much easier, and avoid app fatigue.
2. Get instant access to need-to-know information
Deliver the latest Standard Operating Procedure documents, product updates, training materials, and other kinds of information to your employees whenever they need it by integrating HR, learning, and selected business applications into one integrated platform or system for on-demand access.
You can do this within the HR department and company-wide. Within the HR department, for example, integrated systems enable instant access to all related recruitment information to let your HR recruitment team screen and vet new job candidates faster, reducing the time to fill jobs.
3. Put all your metrics in the same place.
Use ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tools to extract and compile disparate metrics to give you a holistic view of operations. Having your critical metrics in one place will make it easier to cross-reference them to assess and manage productivity. It will let you see where the bottlenecks are. By examining relationships between metrics, you can find ways to increase overall productivity.
4. Integrate metrics based on output, not hours
Businesses traditionally measured employees’ productivity by the hours they worked per week. But counting hours is inefficient and outdated because many people waste time when they’re on the clock. It’s better to use data integration to collect metrics based on employees’ output. Hours worked is not as necessary to meeting productivity targets as tasks done.
5. Let data point you to productivity-enhancing tools
Productivity doesn’t just depend on individuals. It also depends on the tools they use. If your systems are integrated, you can use the data you track and collect to suggest helpful new tools you should buy to boost productivity in selected business-critical areas.
6. Collect data for better work efficiency
Use a single integrated platform to let your employees create their own forms or use a template to request the information or data sets they need for tasks and jobs. Employees could use their mobile devices to access the platform to fill in reports, requests, checklists, and more.
For example, your sales and marketing employees could leverage click-through rates and conversions metrics to see what messages and approaches work best with customers—informing better-designed, more efficient future campaigns.
7. Eliminate duplicate data entry in HR apps
Data integration can automate data transfer between different HR apps, and between HR apps and other company business systems to save time and avoid manual data entry of the same data in different scenarios. For example, you can connect your Applicant Tracking System to your payroll system so that as soon as you hire someone, their relevant data is automatically entered into your payroll system.
Avoiding duplicate entries also eliminates the problem of human error in manual data entry.
8. Integrate productivity apps with the enterprise
Productivity apps such as Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Hive, Jira, and others must be integrated with the enterprise to realize more potential benefits. You can use cloud connectors to keep pre-selected data sets in sync between your productivity apps and other systems.
You can experience productivity gains from enhanced collaboration, access, and sharing once you integrate your favorite IT-approved productivity apps with the enterprise system.
For instance, you can use Microsoft Teams for chat messaging, calls, video meetings, and file sharing for all your employees, wherever they are based, to advance team projects, goals, and workflows. In addition, Microsoft Teams integrates with many other Office 365 suites, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, and SharePoint. Teams also integrates with non-Microsoft apps such as Zoom and Cisco Webex Meetings.
9. Make better decisions with an integrated view
Data integration can bring together data from scattered, separated departments and locations. It helps you see and access more of the information you need to gain accurate business insights for better decisions.
Managerial business decisions can be about anything, including how to make departments, project teams, and individuals more productive—in sometimes unexpected ways.
From the employee’s point of view, access to an integrated data ecosystem enables better quality daily work decisions based on more timely, accurate, aggregated information. So, there’s less stress, increased productivity, and better morale.
10.Connect with IoT devices and third parties for real-time data through integration
Your organization may connect to Internet of Things devices and third parties, such as suppliers, partners, or customers, for real-time data and information exchange that helps drive better business, including productivity boosts.
For instance, in real time,
- your suppliers can keep track of levels of raw materials,
- your business partners can stay up to date on your business’s products, services, and programs, and
- your customers can follow your inventory.
Data integration lets organizations become more closely connected than ever before to their partners and supply chain network.
Data integration will help you improve your efficiency and productivity in several ways.
We will leave you with this final thought from Dan Vesset, the Group Vice President of analytics and information management at the market research firm IDC (International Data Corporation). In an interview for an MIT Sloan School of Management article on “Making the business case for a chief data officer”, he made these comments.
“People spend 60% to 80% of their time trying to find data and dealing with data-quality issues to get it ready for analysis. It’s a huge productivity loss when you are spending a substantial amount of time recreating data assets that exist somewhere else in the organization because you simply lack internal visibility. That’s money left on the table.”
—Dan Vesset, Group Vice President, IDC
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