integration strategy

Is Your Integration Strategy Working Against You?

Every year we ask hundreds of CIOs a simple but important question:

How can you be sure that your technology strategy is right for customer service and sales?

It’s hard for CIOs to articulate exactly why their chosen tech and implementation approach is the best that it can be, but one answer we often hear is “The technology meets our current needs.”

Well, that’s something, albeit the absolute minimum requirement. This answer puts managers in the surprisingly slim majority of just 57% who agree that their IT deployment meets current needs. The bigger question is, are you among the vast majority – 79% – who are concerned that the deployment won’t meet future needs?

The adaptability of your technology is one of the core measures of its value because, without a doubt, your requirements will change quickly over time. Will your solutions keep up?

This is the problem stumping a lot of CIOs. They might be very proud of their careful purchasing decisions, and they might have invested in the biggest name vendor products. They might even have taken the trouble to carefully examine the technical integration capabilities. But when it comes down to it, what happens if real change just takes too long to implement?

Process needs can change on a dime

Process change is a fact of life, and initiatives to identify useful change are central to healthy call center operations. Every initiative that touches your customer contact processes has three factors that you need to control for: incremental cost to implement and launch the change, the time delay to begin to achieve business benefit from the change, and the incremental impact in financial benefit achieved.

One of the most common situations that we find in businesses is that they have telephone systems in place but every change takes longer and costs more in terms of resource. Worst of all, the difficulty and cost increase dramatically when the process change involves integration. In other words, agility to allow implementation of changes is far from optimal.

The truth is, only a tiny minority of businesses even get close to optimising these factors. That’s dispiriting news for the industry, but potentially great news for enterprises that can keep pace. Why? Because optimizing these factors when so few others are makes it fertile territory for gaining competitive advantage.

By really digging into this kind of analysis, CIOs and other executives have an opportunity to find out exactly which elements of integration strategy are most problematic for them.

Realigning around speed and agility requires changes to the people and process behind your technology Click To Tweet

In many cases that have been brought to babelforce, while a business may have the underlying technology, they can’t perform the integrations needed in a reasonable timeframe or at a reasonable cost. What seemed like a promising integration strategy for them actually placed very high barriers to entry on meaningful change.

Even implementations that do go ahead can fail to bear out their own cost when issues like shallow data integration limit the bottom line impact. With too much variation in the potential time or resource cost, executives can quickly become gun-shy about proposing change — a disastrous result.

That’s a pretty basic overview of the situation, but it really can be as simple as that. Not only do your processes need to be robust, but they need to be adaptable to ever-moving requirements.

The strange thing is, it’s not uncommon to go into a business where almost every change takes longer, costs more, and returns less than expected. Some CIOs are willing to stick their heads in the sand and say, “That’s the way of the world.” But is that really a satisfactory answer? Will your management team, or your board, find it satisfactory?

So that’s the problem…

But what’s the solution? How do you optimize for these factors and pull off the triple whammy of expending less time and fewer resources on projects while making a positive impact on the bottom line?

To start with, you need to initiate fewer IT projects. That doesn’t mean making fewer changes – it means making more changes but without involving technical resources. The fact is, 79% of customer service executives report that IT does not accelerate their success. It shouldn’t be at all shocking that executives interpret the development processes of IT departments as irritating delays, when even the smallest process alterations are necessarily subject to briefings and analysis.

The complexity of traditional development approaches goes against the philosophy of innovation Click To Tweet

If simple changes to everyday call handling processes can be remedied directly by customer-facing teams, IT departments waste far less time understanding and implementing low-skill assignments. The instant reduction in time invested means that positive bottom line impact will appear much sooner, making it more likely that your projects will be successful.

Creating an environment where processes are readily customisable doesn’t only reduce cost and create responsive call experiences though; it builds engaged call center teams who are significantly more attuned to extracting business benefit.

One of the major ambitions of babelforce is to allow competent but non-technical staff to create and change call center processes with a minimum of fuss. Just 24% of call centers enjoy full process design with their enterprise, a state of affairs that is surely contributing to a lot of bad user experience.

Coming out of the shadows

The rise of the so-called citizen developer has been a cause for anxiety among some CIOs. This is more than just the concern that responsibility might get transferred away from IT – it reflects a legitimate desire to consult on acquisitions and minimize ‘shadow IT’.

Now is the time for CIOs and IT departments to bring their expertise back into the fabric of decision making. Technology journalist Joel Shore wrote in 2016 that with no-code/low code tools, IT can now take an “advisory role instead of an adversarial one”.

Far from removing authority from IT, his view is that no-code platforms increase the importance of IT departments by eliminating a great deal of semi-skilled tasks. In much the same way that automation can reduce repetitive calls for front-line agents, no-code automation means that IT resources are available for more ambitious projects.

As is often quoted, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not even the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change.” Interestingly, while that quote is usually attributed to Charles Darwin, it was actually first written by Leon C. Megginson – a business professor.

To be among the winners, businesses and CxOs have to address the shelf-life of their integration strategy. When it comes to managing change, speed and affordability are the foremost priorities. Ask babelforce how we can make that a reality for you.