Can IT and Business Work Together in Harmony?
For years, business executives and IT experts have been at loggerheads with one another. Both work differently albeit for the same goal – ensuring the business stays on track and meets its revenue milestones regularly. However, both speak and utilize different languages and that goal is lost in translation, so to speak.
The main issue lies in the fact that technology plans do not take business realities into account and conversely, business plans over estimate tech capabilities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in data governance and the ownership of that data.
Ownership of data is passed back and forth between both parties - one that is responsible for directing and storing the data via application systems and the other is responsible for reading and using the data to determine business outcomes.
However, are each using data productively? Both IT and Business have distinct pieces of the puzzle that can help their organization meet goals more efficiently and effectively. However, for that to be possible, they have and close that gap in terms of who is responsible for what.
Blended Business Models That Bridge the Gap between Technology and Business Goals
This is what we advocate here at Visible Systems. We understand that no department can work in isolation but it can flourish by collaborating using one of many available enterprise frameworks. resources via collaboration. These frameworks, for example, the Zachman Framework, are no longer only IT-centric as there has been a significant shift that is also focused on the business perspective.
This is where blended solutions come into the picture which emphasize the fact that today technology cannot exist for its sake alone – it has to be tailored to suit the business and the customers.
This has also resulted in blended job titles that focus on the best of both worlds such as business process and enterprise architect teams. While they work on different tasks, both realize that their ultimate goals are the same and to meet them, they have to coordinate their efforts.
One of the best examples of this blended approach is data modeling. Even though business process teams and enterprise architecture teams depend on it, they rely on different levels and use different tools. However, a consolidated approach to data modeling can streamline mutual business plans and ensure reciprocal outcomes.
What role does an Enterprise Architecture play?
Enterprise Architecture helps business management achieve its strategic goals. It supports the company in creating competitive advantage, reduces risks and enhances cost-efficiency and scalability. Mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing and major organizational changes all set additional demands on the flexibility of Enterprise Architecture.
The purpose of Enterprise Architecture Management is to:
- Provide a long-term view and facilitate the development of the company’s processes, systems and technologies as well as the execution of the business strategy
- Create, manage and develop a holistic, interconnected model of the enterprise that encompasses processes, information, applications and technology
- Ensure consistency and enable integration
- Create, develop and manage a holistic, high-level roadmap of engagements and projects that realize required solutions and to provide a clear path from current state to target state
- Enable lifecycle management of the solution portfolio
Digitalization has a major impact on Enterprise Architecture, as businesses flow over enterprise boundaries and business solutions expand to cover customers and ecosystems as well. A traditional monolithic architecture becomes complicated to manage and limits creativity inside company boundaries. The IT Standard for Business presents an approach that gives more room for planning the digitalization by integrating business to different ecosystems. The modularity of this approach allows a more agile development of architecture for different business areas.
The elements of Enterprise Architecture.
The major focus of this approach is on the vision, future state and business development of the company, which fall under the Business Architecture layer. The Business Architecture integrates company to various ecosystems, such as customer and partner ecosystems. The company itself is a corporate ecosystem with dependencies between business units and incorporates a business support ecosystem that consists of all vendors and partners related to business support (i.e. HR, Finance, IT, Legal). The vendor ecosystem could, for example, be business subcontractors, component suppliers and service suppliers to name a few. And finally, the partner ecosystem defines the dependencies between business partners, who have a peer role towards the business.
With Enterprise Architecture looking ahead, we also need to look ahead into our current and prospective consumers. Will they stay or will they go? What products will we need to invent in order keep them interested? However good your product or service is, the simple truth is that no-one will buy it if they don't want it or believe they don't need it. And you won't persuade anyone that they want or need to buy what you're offering unless you clearly understand what it is your customers really want.
What can we gleam from an Enterprise Architecture about our Customers?
Knowing and understanding customer needs is at the center of every successful business, whether it sells directly to individuals or other businesses. Once you have this knowledge, you can use it to persuade potential and existing customers that buying from you is in their best interests.
A well planned out and constructed Enterprise Architecture tells you what you need to know about your customers, how to use this information to sell to them more effectively, and how to win business from your competitors.
Every business needs a reason for their customers to buy from them and not their competitors. This is called a Unique Sales Proposition (USP). Your USP can be identified by completing the phrase "Customers will buy from me because my business is the only..."
Your USP can change as your business or your market changes, and you can have different USPs for different types of customer.
- a stationery store could offer a free same-day delivery service for its business customers within a local area - an effective USP for businesses that need fast delivery
- the same stationery store could offer a 5 per cent discount to businesses that spend more than $1,000 a month - this would be a USP for cost-conscious customers
- the stationery store could also make sure it offers the most comprehensive stock of artists' materials in the area - a USP for local professional or amateur artists
All of these USPs can be effective because they are driven by what the customer looks for when making a buying decision.
It's a good idea to review your USPs regularly. Can you tailor your products or services to better match your customers' needs? Consider asking your customers why they buy from you. This will tell you what they think your USP is - this may differ from what you think your USP is.
It's also useful to check constantly what your competition is doing. Remember - if your competitors are doing the same, your USP isn't unique any more.
What do you know about your customers?
The more you know about your customers, the more effective your sales and marketing efforts will be. It's well worth making the effort to find out:
- who they are
- what they buy
- why they buy it
If you're selling to other businesses, you'll need to know which individuals are responsible for the decision to buy your product or service. For information on targeting decision-makers, see our guide on how to target the right people in an organisation.
You can learn a great deal about your customers by talking to them. Asking them why they're buying or not buying, what they may want to buy in the future and asking what other needs they have can give a valuable picture of what's important to them.
Strong sales are driven by emphasising the benefits that your product or service brings to your customers. If you know the challenges that face them, it's much easier to offer them solutions.
It's also well worth keeping an eye on future developments in your customers' markets and lives. Knowing the trends that are going to influence your customers helps you to anticipate what they are going to need - and offer it to them as soon as they need it.
You can conduct your own market research and there are many existing reports that can help you build a picture of where your customers' markets - and your business - may be going.
The customer's current supplier
Chances are your potential customer is already buying something similar to your product or service from someone else. Before you can sell to a potential customer, you need to know:
- who the customer's current supplier is
- if the customer is happy with their current supplier
- if buying from you would offer the customer any benefits - and, if so, what those benefits would be
The easiest way to identify a potential customer's current supplier is often simply to ask them. Generally people are very happy to offer this information, as well as an indication of whether they're happy with their present arrangements.
If you can find out what benefits they're looking for, you stand a better chance of being able to sell to them. The benefits may be related to price or levels of service, for example. Are there any benefits your business can offer that are better than those the potential customer already receives? If there are, these should form the basis of any sales approach you make.
Ten things you need to know about your customers
- Who they are
If you sell directly to individuals, find out your customers' gender, age, marital status and occupation. If you sell to other businesses, find out what size and kind of business they are. For example, are they a small private company or a big multinational?
- What they do
If you sell directly to individuals, it's worth knowing their occupations and interests. If you sell to other businesses, it helps to have an understanding of what their business is trying to achieve.
- Why they buy
If you know why customers buy a product or service, it's easier to match their needs to the benefits your business can offer.
- When they buy
If you approach a customer just at the time they want to buy, you will massively increase your chances of success.
- How they buy
For example, some people prefer to buy from a website, while others prefer a face-to-face meeting.
- How much money they have
You'll be more successful if you can match what you're offering to what you know your customer can afford.
- What makes them feel good about buying
If you know what makes them tick, you can serve them in the way they prefer.
- What they expect of you
For example, if your customers expect reliable delivery and you don't disappoint them, you stand to gain repeat business.
- What they think about you
If your customers enjoy dealing with you, they're likely to buy more. And you can only tackle problems that customers have if you know what they are.
- What they think about your competitors
If you know how your customers view your competition, you stand a much better chance of staying ahead of your rivals.
How we at Visible Systems can help you get a better handle on your data.
Data may be formless, but Visible Systems can help you harness it by coordinating those efforts via a common repository that can help business and IT work together without losing the plot so to speak. Our data discovery software is designed to help organizations visualize and understand data effortlessly.
In other words, our solutions enable Business and IT to work using the same data blueprint comprised of business glossaries, data dictionaries, lineage, etc. Our solutions are designed to help professionals like yourself understand the elements of data most relevant to your role for better accuracy, outcomes and productive efficiency. In other words, our tools help business and IT remain on the same page even if they are working separately, remotely or within the same four walls.
Our blended business models and solutions connect profit with sustainability by giving businesses visibility and an understanding of their data. Since all of processes around data are automated, they reduce chances of errors and ensure strategic decisions within reasonable deadlines.
In pure and simple terms, Visible Systems brings IT and business management together via solutions that unlock knowledge and value that is mutually beneficial. This results in improved services, merged and efficient business models and new products/services that can update client perspective for the better. With time our solutions can become a part of your business’s DNA and which can drive it to success without leaving anyone behind.