Skip to Content
Business Trends
Author's profile photo Christopher Aron

Transforming Lead to Cash with Integration

This week, I participated in the EDA Summit series (link) where I had the opportunity to discuss how customers are approaching Event Driven Architectures to implement real-time business solutions. As part of this talk, I featured both Elkjøp, of Norway, and Natura & Co, of Brazil, as examples of multi-national companies seeking to improve their overall customer experience, to optimize supply chains, and to empower their employees to positively impact the business. This customer combination got me thinking about how I could shine a light on how the integration topic is specifically helping companies in the lead-to-cash process space. (For more information on integration, check out my recent blog “Why Integration Matters ” (link)).


What is lead-to-cash?

Lead-to-cash is the name given to an end-to-end business process that begins with marketing and ends with revenue collection. Along the way, lead-to-cash covers business areas, such as marketing automation, lead management, sales management (opportunity, quote, booking), revenue management (invoice, billing, AR), and financial management (AR/AP, cash flow management). This end-to-end process is very important to the viability of a company’s health. Within this end-to-end process, there are many important sub-processes that merit attention from company stakeholders.

For some of these sub-processes, they are owned by distinct departments or lines of business (LOBs). In other cases, there needs to be close collaboration across departments and teams to ensure timely and efficient execution. When a sub-process spans multiple groups or teams, this is where the case for integration or process orchestration is needed to ensure optimal business performance and/or results. An example of a sub-process that spans multiple groups in the lead-to-cash space is providing customers with options regarding “last mile” delivery. For this sub-process to have effective customer facing elements (as part of a customer management capability), there needs to be access to supply chain data and related costs and prices, if applicable.

This is an example where integration can help an organization to connect different systems of record, across different teams. This ensures that the end-customer is provided with an excellent experience with the flexibility they need regarding a delivery, selecting the option that makes the most sense to them in terms of timing and cost.

The Power of Real-Time Visibility

Increasingly, companies are seeking to view their business in a comprehensive manner. For example, terms such as “Customer 360” or “Business 365” are used to represent these broader views. These wide views require the bringing together and harmonization of data across multiple LOBs – such as sales, marketing, supply chain, and finance. These comprehensive views typically need to be available in real-time, with the ability to understand a complete company experience. For example, with the Customer 360 term, a company needs to understand how a customer is interacting with them across all channels (web, social, in person, through partners, etc.).

Integration plays a key part in being able to parse these different sources together to provide an easy-to-understand summary of how a company is performing and how the customer views these multiple interactions. Most importantly, integration allows a company to take proactive actions to learn from these lessons for future customer engagements or to take steps to personalize the brand experience a particular customer is encountering.

For example, can a company, in real-time, act on availability to promise, adjust delivery commitments, offer special pricing, or a new business model to optimize their customer impact that yields both short and long-term benefits for themselves and their customer base?

Business Impact of Real-Time Visibility

Going back to the lead-to-cash end-to-end process, real-time integration also has impact on sourcing and buying excellence with the ability to provide feedback on customer management activities that can help inform future supply chain excellence. For instance, just-in-time delivery approaches can be implemented based on live customer demand data that helps a company to optimize its inventory costs, supply quantities, and supplier choices.

Lead-to-cash also has impact on people and talent management since real-time sales data can help inform assessments of how a store clerk, account executive, or customer service representative is performing. By achieving real-time visibility companies, businesses can assess individual performance in the context of the moment, in terms of market or transactional dynamics. An individual’s sales performance is easier to compare with peers when performed in real-time, enabling true apples-to-apples comparisons that help make better decisions for steps that can be taken to improve performance.

Natura – Optimizing 100 Million Customer Experiences

Getting back to Natura and Elkjøp who both inspired me for this piece, I want to give both of these companies credit for implementing real-time lead-to-cash integration landscapes. In the case of Natura (link to customer story), they had many objectives for their Integration implementation. First, Natura was seeking to improve their customer experience that spans over 100 million customers worldwide. Natura sought to provide their customers with a seamless, multi-channel experience that would ultimately raise customer satisfaction scores and help increase overall revenues. Second, Natura sought to eliminate data silos across their heterogenous landscape that enabled increased automation of processes and enabled real-time analytics and insights. Third, Natura leveraged these lead-to-cash capabilities to improve last-mile performance and efficiencies that helped reduce their carbon footprint by 33%.

Elkjøp – Helping People Enjoy Technology

Elkjøp is a big box retailer doing business across the Nordic region. Elkjøp faces ever-increasing pressure from ecommerce providers. As a result, Elkjøp sought to implement a next-generation customer experience across their omnichannel organization (link to customer story). Elkjøp sought to improve the overall customer experience strategy across online and offline channels, as well as providing customers with new self- service capabilities, such as scheduling installations and deliveries, and opting for new as-a-service pricing models. Elkjob was able to achieve these business objectives by leveraging integration to connect 12 legacy systems that supported over 12,000 store representatives, across 450 stores. By providing this end-to-end lead-to-cash process, store representatives received a comprehensive view of their customer journey. They were able to achieve more “face time” by leveraging mobile access to this real-time data that enabled them to spend more time with customers, discussing their needs, and, ultimately, providing a better customer experience.

As you can see from the above customer stories, the impact of Integration to these Lead to Cash processes is transformative for the two companies involved. Your company’s Lead to Cash transformation can be next. All that is needed is the implementation of complementary Integration technologies such covering application, data and user integration elements that can enable seamless real-time Lead to Cash excellence in combination with your Customer Experience framework.

Your Customer Experience framework is comprised of multiple applications, solutions and elements from a variety of vendors spanning different technology environments, with separate data repositories and many related personas interacting along the way. Integration technology can help you orchestrate sub-processes. Then, to use a term from the recent EDA Summit (link) that Forrester mentioned this week, Event Driven Architecture elements can help you optimize “choreography” between teams and stakeholders across end-to-end processes.

So if your ready to start exploring how you can optimize your Lead to Cash process, here are a few starting points

SAP API Hub Process Related Diagrams

SAP Intelligent Enterprise Whitepaper on End to End Business Processes

SAP Help Portal for Lead to Cash

SAP Help Portal for SAP Event Mesh

Thanks for reading this post, I hope to hear from you as your own Lead to Cash transformation take shape!

Assigned Tags

      Be the first to leave a comment
      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.