One System Doesn’t Do It All: The Emergence of the Connected Ecosystem

Scenario one: The contract was signed using DocuSign and automatically routed to an electronic document management system (EDMS) that interfaces with Salesforce, making it easy for members of sales and customer care to access key information.  By extracting the contract expiration date, the EDMS will send advance reminders of the contract renewal date, additional data extracted allows the EDMS to manage the retention and disposition of the document. Contracts are signed faster, customer service becomes more efficient, and contract renewal dates aren’t missed. Mailing, copying and filing costs are eliminated, sales and customer care become more efficient, and customer retention improves.

Scenario two: An invoice, paper or digital, has information such as amount due, date, vendor and purchase order number extracted and routed to and accounts payable workflow solution.  The connection points between the financial system and the accounts payable workflow system allow data to flow back and forth between the two systems.  No data entry, invoices are routed for approval and payments are processed quickly. Errors are reduced, invoice-processing costs are lowered, and early pay discounts can be achieved.

Scenario three: Employee new hire documents are completed digitally, information is extracted and populates the human resource information system (HRIS), and documents and information are routed to the human resource (HR) document management system.  The connection between the onboarding application, the HRIS and the HR document management systems enables processes such as policy and procedure administration, offboarding and auditing to be automated.  Employees enter the workforce faster, compliance and security are improved, and HR can spend more time on engagement and retention.   

In each example above, multiple applications are doing exactly what they were designed to do yet working in synchronization to automate data and content flows making the business agiler and supporting more efficient business processes.  Over the years many of the large systems of record have delivered a similar message; “we can do it all, don’t buy the point and niche solutions.”  At one point that might have been true but many of these systems of record have not kept up with business demands and the emergence of new technologies.

Mobile access, ease of use and speedy implementations are necessities for modern technology that weren’t requirements for the systems of record many organizations are using.  The cloud, SaaS solutions and new approaches to system design have organizations rethinking their technology spend.  The new trend is toward buying the best solution for the business requirement and ensuring it integrates or interfaces with an organization’s technology ecosystem.  We’ve seen analysts and vendors respond to this trend:

  • Gartner replaced the market definition of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) with Content Services, acknowledging that a single platform rarely delivers the four primary goals of ECM and that most organizations have multiple repositories.
  • In an interview with a Human Capital Management (HCM) analyst, advances in integration technology were referenced as a reason why point and niche solutions are becoming widely utilized.
  • Oracle has acquired some solutions including Apiary, which improves its ability to integrate with other technologies.

M&A activity, disruptive technologies and changes in the workforce are here to stay. Every organization must assess their pain points and understand their business requirements before purchasing technology.  The ability for solutions to seamlessly work together must be a consideration when selecting a solution. One system that does it all was a great aspiration, but not a reality for most companies.

BJ provides organizations with temporary and on-demand business transformation and information management services. He has been a senior business leader for over 25 years, developing and implementing go-to-market strategies designed to increase revenue, improve productivity and advance the customer experience. His extensive experience in business process reengineering, compliance and security enables organizations to improve their agility while reducing their risk profiles.