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Digital Transformation and the Role of Automation in Data Integration


Gaining competitive advantage without using the latest technologies is almost impossible. That makes digital transformation critical for companies to survive the next decade. The never-ending developments in technology provide even small companies or start-ups with endless possibilities to scale products or solutions that address high-demanding customer needs. A reason for legacy companies to speed up their digital transformation, enabling them to handle data smartly and recover their competitive edge. How is automation going to facilitate just that?

Breaking down information silos

As the technological wave rolls forward, with technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and the Internet of Things (IoT), many legacy companies stand a good chance to prevail over disruptive start-ups and chameleons. But a prerequisite is that they act now and scale fast.

At the core of digital transformation is data. It makes the difference between being a chameleon or a dinosaur. Emerging technologies like AI and RPA can help to overcome the information silos.

RPA enables software robots (bots) to mimic human actions by handling data. Opening emails and files, inputting and extracting data, and searching for keywords and key phrases are examples of actions that can be performed through automation.

Many processes are depending on the available data. Availability is not the issue in the digital transformation journey, it is the hurdle of accessing the vast amount of data many systems create and collect. RPA and Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) are connectors that help businesses to manage and employ data throughout their applications effectively. The different systems require connectivity for algorithms to perform their tasks. Software robots can independently search, collect and modify data across business applications in the IT infrastructure, making automation a great solution for data integration.

Automation to drive data integration

Simply explained, data integration is the process of combining data from more than one source. Without a doubt, in this digital age information is always available at our fingertips. The point is that it is often hidden in a huge pool of unstructured data, burdening both IT leaders and business leaders with overwhelming challenges. I can imagine, such vast volumes of data feel like drowning. The current scattered IT landscape many large companies have to deal with require smart solutions to combine the right data, for the sake of good insights and empower decision-making.

There are many data integration solutions, containing a certain degree of automation. Unfortunately they mostly lack connection with business processes that touch about every part of the organisation, which prevents these solutions from breaking down information silos. Also, many data integration systems rely on manual code, which could disrupt the performance of bots. These systems constantly require maintenance. This results in an accumulation of unperformed tasks, interfering with the progress and initial intent of robotic process automation.

Related: 3 Roadblocks of Digital Transformation

Large companies have multiple data sources like CRMs, ERPs and mobile apps. Assembling all the information from the systems and using the loads of information most effectively is incredibly difficult for humans as well as for many technologies. The fragmented infrastructure forces employees to work with different systems, meaning they have to gather their information from different sources. This is truly time-consuming, time and effort that should be focused on higher-value activities, but also error-sensitive and it hinders validated decision-making. Software robots (RPA, IPA) are able to extract the necessary information and also consolidate unstructured data by pulling recorded information together and transform it into proper information provision. At the same time, process automation can result in the retrieval of valuable information, in particular about how processes are performed.

Increase competitive capability

To stay competitive, companies need to be able to quickly and easily access data on demand. The ability to put data into action is one of the main reasons for digital transformation. Organisations need to have transparent operations. Watertight insights on the performance of their business is crucial to survive the digital age. Effortless access to better data enables companies to react faster to this information than competitors do. Data integration by means of automation allows quick access to large data sets, giving organisations the opportunity to make sense of financial and operational data. It enables executives to make better strategic and tactical decisions, turning them into key decision makers.

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