Integration across operating locations of all sizes has become increasingly important in the age of globalization and increased competition. The reasons are clear: reducing costs, optimizing processes, and gaining a single, unified view across all company-wide information.
While end-to-end business software solutions are helping to integrate data, systems, and business processes within large enterprises, many companies have yet to achieve the same integration at their smaller subsidiaries.
The reasons are many. Integrating operations is perceived as too costly, complex, and time-consuming.
Similar problems are cited by midsize enterprises, which need their systems to integrate with those of their distributors or customers to remain competitive.
However, new, easily implemented solutions are now available which cover the demands of small subsidiaries and independent midsize companies while linking quickly and cost-effectively to enterprise-scale headquarters I.T. systems.
There are numerous solutions for integrating applications, processes, data, or systems within a company. But while large companies’ headquarters are usually equipped with modern business software solutions, their international subsidiaries and remote operating locations often work with applications that cannot interoperate.
Thus, exchanging financial data often involves adventurous spreadsheet calculations, which complicate transactions across the international network and hinder efforts to oversee activities at far-off subsidiaries. Equipping all company outposts with the comprehensive solutions deployed at headquarters would be far too costly and impractical in many cases due to differences in size and scale.
Many independent midsize enterprises are unable to oversee end-to-end processes across departments and functional areas for lack of a comprehensive information pool.
Once again, spreadsheet calculations often serve as the information basis for numerous key processes. In many countries, some 75 percent of all midsize enterprises are still evaluating company information on the basis of Excel sheets. This is a time-consuming and inflexible method that also increases the rate of errors.
The same applies to manual replication of data, which needlessly commits valuable employee time to mundane tasks. Nevertheless, companies often put off investments in end-to-end business solutions that could more cost-effectively manage accounting, customer-relationship management (CRM), materials management, controlling, and industry-specific processes.
The stigma of large integration costs hinder most companies from addressing inefficiencies within key processes and making the enterprise more flexible. Numerous midsize companies serve as suppliers to large enterprises which are increasingly demanding their suppliers’ integration into tightly linked supply chain networks.
Thus, a midsize company’s ability to dock its own I.T. infrastructure onto the high-performance systems of its larger partners and clients is a vital competitive factor.