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How to ensure IT integration delivers value

How to ensure IT integration delivers value

With so much hype surrounding new technology such as Big Data, Cloud Computing and AI, it is easy to miss the point of integrating them into your business operations: enhancing the performance of employees, and ultimately the business.

In contact centre environments, for example, there is great interest in moving to Cloud/hosted IT infrastructure as well as other innovative new technologies to boost efficiencies and to deliver a better customer experience.

Unfortunately, however, during the process of integrating new solutions and applications into existing contact centre processes, many businesses fail to make a smooth and ultimately successful transition. Arguably, this is because the focus during integration is placed on the new technology, instead of placing the emphasis on the unique needs of the business and its employees.

The result? In most instances, such an approach will make little to no difference to the existing customer experience or business processes, leaving decision-makers in a situation whereby they question the wisdom of investing in the new technology.

A dismal outcome... and one which is sadly all too common in an era in which technology is sold as an 'easy fix' for sluggish business performance.

Yet by embracing a few key principles or 'rules' so to speak, businesses can work with technology partners to ensure that every new IT integration is a success – and delivers the all-important ROI.

Here are four steps to translate integration into enhanced business performance:

1 – Clarify your intent or vision

For any process of change or improvement to work, the business leaders and managers must have a clear idea of what it is they are trying to achieve. Within contact centres, there is often an impulse to integrate new technology without truly understanding why or how the new technology will deliver value.

The first step is therefore to identify the current challenges or weaknesses within the contact centre environment and develop a vision of what the end result of integration and introducing new technology will look like. It is important to emphasize that there is no single technology that can deliver everything that is needed to transform the business processes. Instead, by working with a trusted partner, businesses should identify technology that can improve upon and support specific areas within existing business processes. That is why it is imperative to understand the intent or the vision behind any integration, and then build the 'ideal' process from the ground up!

2 – Identify your champions of change

The next step is to identify the 'champions' or leaders within every department and rally these individuals to become your champions of change. Invite these leaders/influencers to share what they believe are the company's major challenges or weak points and ask them to be part of a core team that will facilitate and drive the integration process. These champions of change will become an integral part of the deployment team. Ideally, they will not only provide great insight into existing challenges but will also become crucial allies if they understand and support your integration vision.

3 – Trust the process

For any integration to work, leaders have to let go of the way things once were. This is always a lot harder than it sounds! Yet new technology is often designed to automate many laborious and time-consuming processes, and in this way drive efficiencies and free up important human resources. There is often resistance to change (and to the introduction of unfamiliar systems and tools), but this resistance has to be overcome in order to realise the benefits of integration. So, if you are working with the right technology partner/consultant in a transparent and thoughtful way, your task is to trust the process and allow the transformation to take place.

4 – Empower your people

Every business is only as good as its people, which means that educating and empowering your employees during integration is a must. Often, this requires providing specialised training on the use of new apps, tools and platforms, as well as continuously garnering the feedback of employees during the rollout. If any staff issues or challenges are ignored or overlooked, it can severely hamper successful integration and nullify the benefits of the new technology and systems.

To come back full circle to our first point, this is where vision again becomes key: always communicate your vision to employees, and clearly demonstrate the value of integration and how it will enrich and enhance their work.

* By Jan Kuhn, Director at INOVO.

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