Modern organisations use a range of applications to suit their varied business needs and while this provides flexibility, it also gives rise to the risk of shadow IT. With a distributed work environment now the norm, it’s important that businesses ensure they have a single, connected solution that effectively manages business operations. Karin Jones, Business Applications Director at Microsoft South Africa, tells us how a unified application environment empowers employees to work smarter and contribute to better overall business outcomes.
In today’s connected business environment, it has become easy for organisations to use a myriad of applications that fulfil different functions. The risk of this is that the company does not have a unified view of its solution footprint potentially resulting in the rise of shadow IT. Given the normalisation of a distributed work environment, this is a significant cause for concern. It has therefore become imperative to have a single, connected solution that manages business operations as effectively as possible.
Moving beyond the security concerns that the increasing number of applications bring to the company, the lack of cohesiveness means there is no integrated technology platform in place to deal with future growth. Over the last 16 months, the focus has mainly been on keeping the lights on regardless of the long-term impact this could have. The immediate priority was to get remote employees operational as quickly as possible. Invariably, this resulted in gaps forming between corporate best practice and home network reliability.
Fortunately, many companies have accepted that the ‘new normal’ is going to be part of business for the foreseeable future. As such, the stop-gap measures put in place are being replaced with a cohesive business application approach capable of not only meeting today’s challenges, but also delivering in the future needs of the organisation.
While disconnected processes, systems and people can hold any business back, it is especially organisations who have been sitting on the fence when it comes to Digital Transformation that must move fast to adjust to a more integrated application environment. The challenge lies in successfully bridging the gap between an extensive legacy environment while embracing components of a more agile business application-centred one. This does not necessarily mean having to rip and replace what has already been installed. Rather, it is identifying those areas where the quick wins can happen especially in terms of more enhanced data analysis.
Solutions that deliver insight while providing a company with the agility to innovative in a rapidly changing landscape therefore becomes essential. With most employees expecting to work remotely at least a few days a week even when lockdown restrictions ease, companies need to think how best to inject this agility and flexibility into operational processes.
This is where the likes of Artificial Intelligence, analytics and robotic process automation become imperative. The trigger that makes this accessible to companies across industry sectors is a cloud-based environment. Those decision-makers who have been undecided when it comes to cloud adoption have begun implementing measures to make the transition. Not only does this help with employee productivity, but it also greatly enhances the customer experience. These end-users have come to expect a level of self-service in their dealings with service providers and want more information available to them to make informed buying decisions. The cloud enables this by making traditional on-premise data and systems accessible to remote workers giving them the ability to deal with customers far more effectively.
Adaptation a priority
This requires a solution environment that can adapt to virtually anything while supporting remote and mobile work. Core to this is eliminating traditional data silos and connecting information and people regardless of their geographic locations. Being able to put in place complete workflows without needing to balance the running of multiple applications will result in an organisation creating a positive impact.
All this combines to boost sales and increase customer satisfaction. Having a unified application environment therefore means a business can address opportunities and problems as they emerge before they can negatively influence customers and cause problems. It comes down to empowering people across the business to work smarter using more innovative tools that connect to a cloud environment. With this comes improved collaboration, productivity and making a greater impact to achieve demonstratable business returns.Click below to share this article