Integration of data is not just for businesses of a certain size or complexity. As soon as a business starts using multiple applications to handle the same data, integration becomes relevant. Having access to reliable data and being able to get business insights from it is the best way to drive long term growth for businesses who want to scale or those who prefer to stay small.
A strong network of integrated data with a single source of truth can keep a small business on the right track and enable it to pivot based on decisions driven by data if necessary. A Digital Integration Hub (DIH) provides a connected ecosystem that can enable making the right decisions and much more through access to real-time insights.
Point-to-point integration is not enough
When small businesses need to introduce, maintain and operate new integrations, it can cost them a lot of money. For example, when they want to upgrade tools or technology, they need to find all the connections entering and exiting that need to change. This is a barrier to agility and changing each point-to-point connection causes disruption to the business. Using a Digital Integration Hub offers agility and flexibility so the business is not disrupted.
Data challenges facing small businesses
Many small businesses may feel that using data makes life harder, not easier. They find it difficult to make sense of the data even if they are able to collect it. They often realize that data can be valuable but they either do not have enough time or bandwidth to leverage it. They may also fear the costs of implementation and feel they could use their time more efficiently by focusing on operations or sales. They may not realize that it is exactly because they have time, money and other limitations that they need data even more than larger enterprises to optimize their resources.
Most small businesses use various SaaS tools to collect data across their businesses and as they are good at doing one specific task, it can be difficult to make them talk to each other. If small business owners want to use data effectively, they need to find a way to pull it from different sources and integrate it to offer a single source of truth.
A data strategy is necessary for every small business, which is essentially a roadmap identifying how it will collect, handle, manage and store data. When data is not integrated and exists in silos, this leads to inefficiency and a lack of productivity. Smarter data management enables a small business to gain a competitive edge.
The number of apps a business uses increases as it grows and each app has its own database with data coming in from many sources and in different formats. The systems are likely to combine new cloud-based application services as well as traditional on-premise applications.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable two apps to communicate and API calls are typically made to many data sources for every action. This can lead to many different issues, including latency and overloaded back-end systems.
What does a Digital Integration Hub do?
A Digital Integration Hub (DIH) delivers high throughput, low latency, responsive APIs and reduces the workload on back-end systems. This is because it decouples the back-end systems from the front-end APIs. Back-end systems are no longer overloaded from excessive API service-generated calls.
- Offers real-time business insights
Being able to gather data from many different sources and access it in real-time is a big advantage for small businesses. Up-to-the-minute information from a myriad of systems can keep small business owners informed and enable them to act efficiently and quickly. Agility and flexibility is a big benefit to small businesses as this can help them to stay competitive.
- Simplifies hybrid integration environments
Using a DIH can enable a small business to manage data in such a way as to reduce its complexity, streamline it and use it as a valuable asset. It can simplify hybrid integrations and allow businesses to keep using on-premise operational systems as well as cloud services.
- Creates more business efficiency
Businesses that use technology effectively are able to operate more efficiently. When applications are integrated, this offers better collaboration between employees and more efficient business processes. For example, employees don’t have to waste time tracking down information scattered in different systems because it is all obtainable from one source.
- Enables better decision-making
Utilizing data to obtain business insights helps with better decision-making when it comes to marketing, product development, and customer experience. Without business analytics and competitive business research, small businesses battle to succeed. Machine learning algorithms can correlate data sources and offer meaningful insights to support good decision-making.
- Offers improved customer experience
In today’s competitive business environment, businesses that offer excellent customer experience are those that are able to survive and grow.
Where customer applications are deployed to many end-users, this can cause latencies from the request to the response from the back-end systems. It can also cause scalability issues due to back-end systems servicing repetitive requests. Customers today want quick response times.
Using a DIH involves inserting an in-memory database between the back-end system and the API management layer. This means there is a quick response time with low latency.
Anything that makes it easier for customers to do business with a company increases its chances of retaining them and growing their customer base.
Organizations of any size and in any industry or region can leverage integration technology to bring real value and simplify digital transformation. A DIH offers a solution that helps them with their initiatives.
At its essence, digital transformation overcomes perceived business limitations, offers business process improvements, increases customer satisfaction and adds new sources of revenue. It even becomes possible to deliver self-service options to customers and free employees for more productive activities. The possibilities are constantly evolving when it comes to digital transformation and small businesses shouldn’t be afraid to take their first steps towards achieving change.