Recently, I sat in a client road map meeting to discuss a major platform migration effort. Their VP of Technology, QA engineer, orchestration architect, and software development director walked through the delivery plan of how content would be moved from one automation platform to the new platform. While the major topic was not software integration, the questions continued to arise around integration, APIs, and the interaction of these within the systems. In tech, we all know that integration is at the center of almost any project because so many groups are on disparate technologies and solutions. Teams are sold into multi-year license agreements, managers find their preferential tools, or companies fall into the age-old “it’s the way we’ve always done it” and end up on different solutions or even different versions of software.
Both the VP of Technology and the QA engineer brought up the point that multiple groups were using different ticketing, support, development, and project management tools to complete their work across the entire company. None of the technologies talked to each other and most of the teams were based in different regions, effectively siloed from collaboration. A major issue with these disparate solutions is the lack of reporting, which ultimately means a lack of visibility into the system. The VP, Director, and QA engineer are all looking for report-outs of various items— development status, API calls, use percentages, release timelines, or others. How do you know what is functioning well versus what is hanging up in a system? This translates to: how can you determine a successful ROI versus what is ineffective? We know that at the heart of every customer’s end-game is revenue return. By mentioning the variety of software that teams were using, the client was really saying that there was a void in their software solutions. Development is working on deliverables in Jira, QA is testing in Swagger, and management is missing reports of the entire release process. The void is the lack of visibility.
Traditionally, integrated software solutions are thought to be technologies like Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, AppleWorks, etc. that bring a variety of software tools into a one license, one suite download. As the market changes and companies look at increasing revenue and reducing operations burden, there becomes a need for integration across multiple software solutions that is not as simple as “click and save.” With APIs and the increasing amount of connections that various tools include, integration across these solutions becomes an expectation for any customer. When I assess a tool, I automatically look for integrations. Can I connect my CRM to my marketing automation platform? Can I connect my project management tool to my company’s instant messaging? Can I integrate my QA tools with my development solution to speed-up releases?
As a standard, customers now look for unified systems to accelerate growth and improve business productivity. As competition increases, it becomes paramount to provide a first-class customer experience and satisfy customer expectations from the start. If you are unable to provide integrated software solutions from implementation and quickly resolve issues with hang-ups in systems speaking to each other, customer satisfaction levels drop and the risk of losing the client rises exponentially. It is vital to launch new products, projects, or experiences with the end-user in mind; proper planning of the pain points before launch enables faster revenue for both you and the customer.
While it can be time consuming to develop the target mission and pain points prior to a sales pitch, the comprehensive big-picture ultimately enables you to spend more time on customer acquisition and retention efforts instead of developing or resolving software solutions after the fact. Investments of both time and resources at the start can feel like a burden as it cuts into short-term revenue goals; however, long-term growth evolves from the ability to nurture customer relationships through the understanding of their frustrations and bottom lines. Through understanding the customer’s need for integration first, we enable bigger, faster, and more frequent growth opportunities.
If customers demand integrated software solutions outside of the traditional one suite downloads, how can today’s software providers and customized service providers meet this demand and improve the customer experience? Ensuring that your services integrate with a variety of technologies and software solutions have integration points to connect to a multitude of solutions is a great starting point. At our company, we ensure that we stay up-to-speed on changing technologies and market demands to remain agile in the vendor space. Our independence and expertise to many solutions allows us to work across any vertical with any technology to meet any demand. Ultimately, it is not a single IT strategy that drives customer experience, but really the broader business strategy that fosters their experience, long-term loyalty, and complete satisfaction.