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Chief Integration Officer – Are you the next Jane?

As we head into the final stretches of 2020 (thank goodness) one can’t help but reflect on how much everything has changed in a matter of months. Most activities have gone virtual from schooling, working, Pilates, dry cleaning (maybe not) and even weddings. Ultimately these challenges have provided opportunities for businesses to tighten their supply chain, automate their business processes with AI and ensure an even better understanding of customer needs through data insights. Many companies that spawned the “gig” economy, superstars such as Lyft, AirBnB, WeWork struggled as their business models are either put on hold or have become almost irrelevant overnight.

But what this year’s challenges have taught us is that the fundamentals of success remain the same:

  • Treat your customers well
  • Optimize and automate your business processes
  • Manage margins to plan
  • Continuously find new revenue opportunities.

How to make this happen? Be agile, efficient and innovative. Not only will your business survive, it will be poised to serve customers better when we emerge from the current state. But how companies do that requires new approaches and thinking.

For years “digital transformation” initiatives and such behemoth projects would take years to get off the ground. Digital, digitized or some variation of this concept were the latest buzzwords as we entered this new decade. But this year, COVID-19 became the catalyst that catapulted companies into action – years became months and even weeks.  Act now to survive or become obsolete.  Recent McKinsey research shows that many companies are doing just that – accelerating digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years.1 Companies first to invest in technology during a crisis see 25% organic growth in revenue over 3 yrs. 1 Corporate strategy has now become entwined with digital strategy.

A critical step to become a digital-first company is to ensure your company’s applications are working together and map to your key business processes. With more systems, deployment options, data and new technologies, how do you make it all work together? Can you do it quickly and with no disruption?  Here at SAP, as the pioneer in helping customers leverage technology to support their business processes, we see customers start with a modern integration platform which also means it must be cloud based.

As a leader in the enterprise integration space, SAP has been working with customers in connecting and customizing experiences for their customers, partners and employees. SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite also accelerates companies’ digitization and innovation efforts with pre-built integration flows and connectors while helping scale integration efforts beyond a central IT group through the use of artificial intelligence. You can learn more about SAP’s enterprise integration platform as a service offering from Gartner in their latest in EiPaaS Magic Quadrant.

What we see is a growing trend towards having an individual or number of individuals be responsible for the strategic use of integration services to achieve immediate and impactful business outcomes from understanding customer needs to creating zero-touch interactions with customers and partners. The role of a Chief Integration Officer or office is currently spread between the enterprise architect, integration center of excellence, the CIO, CTO and in the SAP competency centers. As the demand for integration technologies grows (iPaaS market grew 4X faster at 48% than the overall software market) 2, it is likely we will soon see this title when we connect with colleagues and acquaintances on LinkedIn.

So how is SAP helping companies understand to better utilize integration technologies to meet these challenges? To support the needs of a Chief Integration Officer, we have a potpourri of content from thought leadership reads to assessment tools to product information to help them every step of the way.

For the latest trends on integration, start with IDC’s “Modernizing Integration Improves Time to Value While Enabling a Digital Agenda” report. Read Unlocking Innovation through Integration to see what Deloitte, is saying about the need for an integration platform and its importance for a company’s technology strategic initiatives. Try “How a Digital Integration Hub is a Business Game-Changer in the Experience Economy” to learn the what, how and why of a digital integration hub, an API-first integration strategy coupled with a data-centric mindset that helps companies improve customer experiences, improves business processes and find new revenue opportunities.  We’ve also just published a 6-part blog series that shines light on key integration imperatives and aims to decompose what’s needed for companies and why the role of a chief integration is more important than ever. Start with “Integration as a Strategic Imperative – Part I” to better understand the challenges and what’s needed to address them.  Then read about the 5 imperatives in the blog series.

When reading isn’t enough, listen to these webinars and watch live sessions:

To gauge where organizations are in usage of integration technologies, we worked with TBR for some interesting survey findings. 85% of the enterprise customers they surveyed believe integration has a medium to high level of value for their business and 57% believe COVID-19 will increase the strategic importance of integration for their business. Amongst SAP customers surveyed by ASUG, 77% of SAP customers view integration as of moderate to extremely high value. Recognizing our customers view integration to be impactful to their business, SAP offers Integration Solution Advisory Method (I-SAM), a proven best practices integration methodology helping 1900+ clients understand how to take the first step towards meeting enterprise integration needs. It’s also the basis for SAP’s integration maturity assessment tool designed for companies striving to understand where they are in this journey to becoming more proficient in integrating their diverse landscapes of SaaS, on-prem and legacy systems.

But where our customers get the most value beyond product information is learning what their peers are doing. SAP customers do all sorts of interesting things with SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite whether that is connecting finance, sales, customer marketing, loyalty management, customer management, event management, transportation management, etc. systems to deliver a real-time VIP hospitality app or leveraging data from legacy ERP/CRM systems to deliver a customer facing portal, you can learn more here.

By now, you might be scratching your head wondering who Jane is – the person in the title of this blog. We’ve kicked off the conversation on what a chief integration officer does and what challenges this person solves. Videos speak a thousand words (actually 250 to make it short and sweet) so here are a few based on common integration use cases.

 

Jane is our super hero/heroine taking on all sorts of integration problems and earning the title of Chief Integration Officer.

So instead of turning on Netflix right after dinner tonight, maybe take a peek at these videos and see if Jane is your alter ego?

As we finish off 2020 and move into 2021, we will be tirelessly creating more content to help our customers understand how to best leverage SAP’s integration technologies and become that super hero, a Chief Integration Officer for their organization. Visit us at SAP.com and stay tuned for the latest thought leadership, customer stories, integration tools and more.

1- How Covid has pushed companies over the technology tipping point

2 Gartner Market Share Analysis: iPaaS Worldwide 2019

 

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