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The world has changed, and so has your corporate technology landscape. Worldwide there are roughly 30,000 SaaS companies and about 14 billion customers. The rise of SaaS applications and Big Data has been a game-changer. Companies first look to the cloud as they acquire new applications or launch new business initiatives. 

Between cloud computing, the ability to store and process vast amounts of data, and various SaaS applications, organizations can access a wealth of tools and insights to meet their business goals. However, one of the main challenges of adopting SaaS applications is that they can lead to a highly-fragmented digital ecosystem

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As you diversify your applications, data gets siloed across different departments, teams, and platforms. Additionally, as customers interact with your company from many channels, information spreads across legacy applications, departments, and SaaS applications, making creating a seamless and personalized challenging. This leads to inconsistent data that are difficult to manage and analyze, ultimately moving your company forward. You need one view of your customer data across all applications, devices, and touchpoints to solve this problem. 

It's not just about IT infrastructure anymore; it's about using technology to revolutionize your fragmented business. The goal is to create a seamless experience between customers, employees, suppliers, and partners across multiple channels and devices. Here's what it takes to gain a complete view of your customers across systems and touchpoints and become a customer company. 

1. Identify all your customer touchpoints

Customers are highly opinionated. They expect a great product and superior service. So you have to earn their trust throughout the entirety of the customer relationship. Salesforce promotes the idea of a “customer company,” focusing on providing value by listening to and engaging customers across multiple channels. Customer companies offer innovative products and services, streamline customer processes, and are available 24/7, everywhere. 

To become a customer company, you need to put your customer at the center of everything your business does; however, customers interact with your company across multiple touchpoints. Therefore, no one application encompasses every direct and indirect customer touchpoint; it's all about how you connect your best-of-breed applications and legacy systems to deliver the right solution. 

As you begin your journey to becoming a customer company, you must identify all applications that impact your customers across customer targeting, acquisition, retention, collaboration, and understanding. These applications can be found in your front and back office and may not touch the customer directly, but they provide a comprehensive view of their history. That's why you need to connect your SaaS applications to your on-premise systems and your new applications to your legacy systems to have a single view of your customers and business. 

2. Use to deliver on your vision

Once you've identified all applications that touch a customer through their lifecycle, it's time to consider how to integrate them to ensure data consistency across customer experience and service. Your customer's data is more than what appears in your CRM. It's also the data in your marketing tools, billing system, and more. For example, changing a billing address in your CRM system must be reflected across your order management and billing systems. Likewise, when a customer logs a support ticket, it should be reflected in the CRM lead record. 

Siloed, fragmented data is the most significant barrier to becoming a customer company, as it can lead to poor business decisions, reduced customer satisfaction, and more. Integration makes creating a coherent view across your systems and your customers possible. It's the only way to ensure that data is always up to date and consistent across all applications, allowing you to improve and personalize the customer experience and drive revenue. 

Integrating applications across the business makes it possible to orchestrate the execution of a sequence of business process activities, whether performed by software (apps or services), humans, or devices. This means you can automate business processes across your ecosystem. There are SaaS applications to meet (almost) every business need, with more and more hitting the market every day. Now the key is to figure out how to securely, automatically, and repeatedly connect those systems so you can remain agile and react to customer needs.

3. Go beyond integration: Design for agility

Integration allows you to design your business for maximum agility. For example, if your IT team builds custom connections for your SaaS and legacy applications, your integrations become time-consuming, painful, restrictive, and easily broken. They only mask the inflexibility of your applications' architecture and don't deliver the agility your business needs. 

The real goal is to design for tomorrow's problems, not just today's endpoints. Customer needs and expectations are always changing based on shifts and disruptions in the market, which presents the need for business agility. An integration platform can afford you that flexibility. There will always be a new application to incorporate into your business's existing design. This drives the need for a scalable and adaptable open integration platform for the constantly changing systems landscape. 

As you explore your current stack and all the possible customer touchpoints in your enterprise, identify all the gaps that need to be filled. For example, you may not have any application in place, or you may have one in place that only meets some of your needs.

Then, think about how you'll deliver on this design. How will you connect all your different applications? How will you plan for future technology purchases? How do you ensure customer data connectivity and consistency are the same across applications? 

As business leaders take more control of cloud purchasing decisions, buying apps to fill gaps, it is up to IT to figure out how to make all of the pieces fit together. Integration solutions allow your organization to seamlessly connect applications, enable data to move smoothly throughout business processes and customer interactions and improve operational agility and speed.

As a result, they become a vital component of creating adaptable application architecture, making it easy for employees to collaborate with customers, partners, and suppliers across any device and running your business today and in the future. 

Conclusion 

With so many applications on the market that gradually become a part of your digital ecosystem, your application architecture's modernization must remain at the core of your business. Coupled with your customers' and partners' ever-evolving needs, you must combine these areas to become a high-performing customer company. As the IT landscape becomes increasingly fragmented, the need for connection through integration and innovation becomes even more necessary. 

If you want to learn more about how to build an integrated digital ecosystem, read our eBook, The Blueprint to Becoming a Customer Company.