Keep IT flying under the radar

The Information Technology (IT) department is the oxygen of the business world. It’s crucial, but, many times, invisible. In fact, many of the complex processes that IT supports are most successful when nobody notices them at all. They just happen, and all is well. When something goes wrong, IT goes into fire-fighting mode and people start scrutinizing, asking questions and second-guessing.

The problem takes center stage and pushes all other IT priorities aside. It costs time, money and focus. Problems can cost reputations and customers, too.

That’s why the IT department spends a lot of effort to keep everything humming along as smoothly as possible. When IT delivers against expected availability and SLAs, the team can dedicate their valuable time and energy to future-proof systems, improve services and pre-emptively adapt to constantly changing requirements and threats.

When the Air Gets Thin

But when the oxygen runs out or, more likely, when a company executive comes up against an IT problem -- like inaccurate financial processes, slow delivery of business intelligence (BI), billing errors or uncoordinated supply chain activities -- the tech team comes under fire.  It can happen anywhere.

Technology is the fundamental support for most businesses activities -- whether the customer in question is external, or a part of the internal executive team. As a result of technological and process advances, all of these customers are now more demanding than ever, too.

Just like the internal stakeholders, external customers mean business. Recent US and UK research  conducted by Redwood Software, Inc., clearly shows that IT problems which result in poor service, redundant questions or disconnected customer service can be damaging -- even financially devastating -- to any business.*

The research found that high-quality, consistent IT and business processes are fundamental to building long term loyalty from consumers -- and supporting a healthy cash flow. For example, when purchasing online, two thirds of consumers simply lose interest and abandon their carts if the process takes too long (66 percent) or is too complicated (60.8 pecent). In the UK, these bored web shoppers represent a £28 billion loss in sales for 2013**. For the US the picture is even more serious. These erstwhile shoppers make up a loss of approximately US$16.5 billion in sales in the first quarter of 2013*** alone.

That should send a shiver down the spine of CEOs and CFOs everywhere. Add to this the finding that almost three quarters of consumers will leave an online marketplace if they can’t easily find what they were looking for -- heading straight into the arms of the competition -- and it starts to look like every dime not invested in delivering improved business and IT processes is a wasted one.

Stealth Technology

For IT to remain below the radar and provide the most consistent service, it’s time that everyone involved rethinks the way they operate. Business and IT leaders should work together to examine every repeatable processes they execute. How much time and effort could they save if they accomplished these processes with less manual effort? How could they get faster, more accurate results every time?

First, they have to use technological prowess to their best advantage. That means business and IT have to use the most powerful element in the history of any industry -- automation -- wherever possible. Of course, automation can’t solve every problem for IT and the business, but it can deliver consistency, reliability, efficiency and quality. Not a bad place to start!

Machines perform tireless, uniform tasks around the clock in fractions of a second. Repeatable activities that demand absolute accuracy, consistency and reliability, like inventory maintenance, credit card processing, order-taking -- and many, many others -- beg to be automated. Tricky business intelligence (BI) procedures and Big Data analytics can all be brought down to human size through automated processes.

Automating and connecting processes at a high level delivers IT and process excellence every time they’re used. For example:

  • A large financial services company uses enterprise-wide automation to compile more than 24 terabytes of sales transaction data at the end of each day and produce reports by 7 AM the following morning.
  • An international pharmaceutical company used automation to connect their manufacturing and finance departments while reducing their IT infrastructure costs by 70 percent.
  • A global fashion retailer automated its sales and inventory replenishment process so that they now respond quickly to market demands and product requirements with accurate, automatic business intelligence every day.

And these are just a few examples. The future belongs to those who can use automation to their real business advantage. Are you ready?

Photo Credit: twobee/Shutterstock

* In March 2013, 2,000 US and 2,000 UK consumers were surveyed by OnePoll about their real-life and virtual interactions with retailers, service providers, and financial organizations. An infographic breaking down the OnePoll findings for the US is available at: http://www.redwood.com/infographics/little-big-problems-us  for the UK, the infographic is available here: http://www.redwood.com/infographics/little-big-problems-uk.

**IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index predicted a 2013 UK online spend of £87 billion

*** ComScore 2013 U.S. retail e-commerce spend in Q1 2013 surpassed $50 billion

Tijl Vuyk founded Redwood Software in 1993 and, as the Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for setting the company's vision and worldwide business strategy. Under his stewardship, Redwood has continually innovated to deliver a strong trajectory of growth and profitability -- to become one of the world's leading enterprise business and IT process automation and report distribution solution providers.

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