There is a big trend in software integration these days which involves automation – turning connected systems into free-flowing conduits for data to move intelligently into and out of with ease. Well, maybe not quite that, but the key is the unattended and intelligent movement of data from one system to another. People do not have to get involved in order for information to flow from one system to another… it just goes by itself. Like a robot.
Having software and systems connect to one another is not new at all, and businesses have for many years recognized the value of being able to have information entered in one system available in another. Entire ERP frameworks have been created based on this concept of entering data only once and using it in many ways. The trick is when there is more than one system or software product involved.
A simple example might be someone who owns a web store and does their bookkeeping with QuickBooks. The webstore is running an e-commerce solution or shopping cart system that allows customers to buy things online. However, the webstore does create sales orders and payment transactions, and may even have to manage an inventory of items as they are sold.
Getting the information from the webstore to QuickBooks and vice versa is often a task business owners take on, either by entering the information manually themselves or hiring and employee to do it. This manual re-entry of information introduces a large potential for errors in the data entered and is time-consuming and costly.
“It was just awful,.. There were humans everywhere.”http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-new-bookkeeper-is-a-robot-1430776272
Rather than having a person re-type the information from one system into another, software-based integration programs may be available to help users map the data and move it from one solution to the other. Using a software program to transfer the information is much faster and reduces the error rate, increasing the overall value and usefulness of the information.
Automation is not the only requirement that makes this robot-like. The additional requirement is the intelligence. If people still have to get directly involved in order for something to happen, then all the happening is still based on human performance. No robots there.
Intelligent integration of information occurs when the systems on both ends are capable of making decisions and acting on them. For example, a business might use a solution that allows vendors to submit their invoices electronically. Through a base of rules that match invoices to requests and approvals, the system is able to issue payment and record the transactions automatically and without human intervention, saving hugely on personnel and processing costs. Robots (the automation solution) would not make up all the rules, but could follow them repetitively and without question once established.
…software can help businesses operate more effectively. “If you think like a human, there are only certain things you can do. When you think like a robot, many things are possible.”http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-new-bookkeeper-is-a-robot-1430776272
This is not a new paradigm for businesses – this is doing things a bit smarter than before and leveraging technology to get more done in less time. The difference is that the pace of change is increasing, giving businesses less time to stand by and consider whether or not this “smart” technology makes sense.
Robots, you say?
Let Mendelson Consulting help you get the most from your business software, showing you how to streamline processes to improve accuracy, speed and productivity. It all leads to doing better and smarter business, increasing service levels and profitability at the same time!