Finding better ways to connect information, processes, and people has been top of mind for years throughout the rise of digital transformation efforts. KPMG, for example, found in early 2020 that 79% of CEOs say they are personally responsible for overseeing cross-functional alignment in a way their competitors were not. Priorities for those leaders included taking a more active lead in technology strategy and increasing automation.
That report was entitled The Connected Enterprise – when the reality is, today, work is more disconnected than ever. Quickbase’s own recent fragmentation study found that almost 94% of respondent organizations are at either moderate or high risk of experiencing the challenges of fragmentation. We have moved past the connected enterprise – and into the challenges of the post-connected enterprise. This is a time marked by processes that are completely disconnected from each other. Continued complications and challenges in doing work that moves across departments and organizations.
So how did we get here? And how can we bite back at the connections that we somehow moved past?
Too small an approach
Part of the problem is that the existing ways that people seek to solve this challenge aren’t cutting it. Too often, organizations view collaboration and connection as a problem solved on the individual and team level. While collaborative work management capabilities like task tracking and individual project management are important to getting work done, they can fall short of the scale of the problem. Similarly, when organizations solve for individual projects with bespoke tools to manage individual processes, they can be creating even more data siloes and in fact increasing fragmentation when they sought out to make work easier. And when teams turn to manual tools like Excel, the problem only becomes bigger.
This is what happens with more tools without anything to connect them. “You have more software to attack your challenges, and yet more problems as a result when that software lacks the flexibility to build, strong integrations, and the tight controls you need,” said Ryan Duguid, VP of Product Strategy at Quickbase.
With a continually growing tech stack and nothing to connect all of it, the small challenges are solved while the big ones remain. As a result, work suffers. More than 53% of respondents to our quiz are held up more than once a week by fragmented data, communication, and workflows. And we have to fill in those gaps and challenges with manual work – 70% of respondents said that they enter the same data into multiple places.
This is the flaw in a patchwork approach to solving business problems. Without the right capabilities to unify all of your data and systems, your people will have no idea where to turn for the information they need to get their jobs done and your most important projects – the ones that take the most coordination and communication – will be stuck in the mud. Your work will remain fragmented and your teams will remail frustrated.
There is, however, a better way to create the connection that is missing. It starts with connection and automation. Instead of prioritizing spot solutions, you should be looking to take a more holistic approach to solving fragmentation. Your organization has people doing tons of work every day – the right approach to collaboration and connection unites all of the information and systems that come from that work and makes sure everything is accurate and actionable.
More visibility by committing to a single source of truth will shine a light on the ways your work is disconnected – and show you where you can cut out duplicate work. Connected technology can build on this central source of truth by integrating platforms. The right collaboration tool, one that can be customized and layered with no-code, makes sure that there’s no need to ‘rip and replace’ software just to reduce fragmentation. Better automation, taken on by less than 40% of organizations according to Foundry, can be a major force to solve fragmentation as well. If technology leaders take a considered, organization-wide approach to this, you will remove the phrase “entered manually” from your vocabulary.
Think about how Henley-Valvoline did this. In order to effectively expand their real estate portfolio 3 times in 5 years, they need to collaborate across multiple teams and processes. Construction progress, site selection, and portfolio management are all happening in concert, and information matches among coordinated handoffs. This comes through visibility, connection, and automation – as we like to say, they can see, connect, and control all of their critical processes.
Challenges like this mean people need the right information at the right time – and the post-connected enterprise doesn’t bring this. While work feels more disconnected than ever, taking the right approach will bring us to the connected enterprise that we have all been seeking.