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How embracing open systems can improve your business

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As buyers and users of technology, the way we use business applications depends in large part on the flow of data from open systems. Whether it’s synchronizing payroll, identifying new business opportunities, or sending out platform alerts, open systems are key to business success.

Business leaders need to ensure that their technology partners can adapt with them as their business changes and that their technologies work well together. This means choosing partners who have invested in APIs and are committed to the philosophy of maintaining an open system. Without the binding nature of APIs and open systems, data remains in a silo and limits our ability to create powerful software that drives business transformation.

Related: Open API: Now What?

The problem with data in silos

In recent years, the urgency has increased for APIs and integrations to support broader business agility. In reality, almost 80% of IT leaders said Covid-19 made integrations more of a priority for their organization, and over 60% said they are dedicating more resources to integrations.

Despite the priority to increase integrations, it is not self-evident that all companies will embrace APIs and open systems. Many vendors still lock down their systems or have data in silos, preventing neighboring technologies from building robust integrations against their API. Conversely, software consumers also suffer because they cannot effectively combine all their data.

Ultimately, this slows the pace of innovation and can affect business results. For business leaders, embracing an open systems mindset is a bottom-line initiative, as organizations need flexible, resilient technology. As a result, leveraging the value of open systems enables you to improve your business ecosystem, customer and workforce strategy, and innovation.

Related: Why Deleting Your Data Will Increase Your Business’s Efficiency and Productivity

Improve your business ecosystem

It is imperative for software consumers to have a business ecosystem that embraces open systems. And as a business leader, it’s your job to keep the bigger goals in mind and adapt your business to the feedback from the market, customers and employees. Often that means deciding how to mess with your data, but that can be a big challenge when your data is spread across 50 different apps and vendors.

We know that the number of cloud apps used by businesses is increasing. In fact, the number of cloud apps used by organizations increased by 25% in the first five months of 2022 only. But an oversaturated tech stack can put a strain on your workflows and people when they’re constantly switching between platforms and experiencing “system fatigue.” Instead, look for fewer partners who can help you build meaningful integrations. For example, if you outgrow your existing core HR platform, what happens to your remaining data and other platforms if they don’t integrate with new solutions you deploy?

When selecting a vendor, hope to be with them for a while, but make sure you research if you can build on top of their API, if they embrace open systems and they won’t stop you from using your own data. Ask questions like: What does the data access control look like? Does this apply to my entire organization? Is it configurable enough for the ways we want to share data?

The value of integrations is that you can exchange the systems that make the most sense for different stages in your business lifecycle. In today’s economy, successful companies need to be able to measure and adapt which business apps are moving the needle, and you don’t want to be stuck with rigid data and tools that don’t integrate with the rest of your business ecosystem.

Related: 3 Steps to Profit from Shared Data Experiences

Improve results for EX and CX

For companies that develop software, the results for customers and employees are paramount. Customers increasingly expect you to understand their needs and have connected, personalized journeys. Customers demand best-in-class experiences, which means tailoring your product to their needs can be a key differentiator. The best way to achieve this is by embracing open systems and APIs that enable customers to create custom experiences.

Of 66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and 50% reporting that they will renew or upgrade if the requested integrations are offered, this is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a fundamental business benefit. If your data can’t be used to meet your customers’ needs, they’ll look elsewhere.

On the other side rose employee engagement and collaboration is one of the key benefits organizations experience when using APIs and open systems. Open systems and APIs enable managers and people leaders to focus on creating valuable moments and experiences for employees rather than managing people data logistics. For example, critical moments during the employee journey, such as onboarding, become much more seamless when data is open, connected, and integrated. From day one, employees can begin to understand your organization instead of ensuring their birthday is synced across all business applications.

Ignite innovation

For software consumers and producers, innovation is the foundation of thriving businesses. But it is even more important when uncertainty becomes the new operating rhythm. Customers know this; in the wake of Covid-19, the vast majority of customers expect companies to accelerate their initiatives.

Open systems are critical to innovation because they provide endless opportunities to build on existing technology. As the market fluctuates and the battle to keep up with customer needs accelerates, the ability to innovate quickly is how resilient companies will differentiate themselves. Furthermore, APIs help bind your business applications together, so your people can spend more time on their work output and less time making sure their data is seamlessly integrated into another business application.

Data drives everything we do – from how we think about business operations to people strategy to product development. We can extract the most value from our data when we open the flow of information to support comprehensive business integrations. The future of work must be anchored in how we enable companies to use their data and make it accessible to the entire organization. At the heart of the ability to scale, open systems will set you apart from the competition as you are better suited to weather changes throughout your organization.

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