Over the years a debate has raged over whether data integration is a business function or an IT function. This is an interesting question that impacts any company that does any sort of integration whether it be to a marketplace like Amazon or an eCommerce platform like Shopify. It even impacts EDI to a certain extent.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in most companies, including many of VL OMNI’s own clients regarded data integration as simply an IT function. IT departments often controlled the resources and therefore the agenda and timelines for data integration projects going live. IT departments also controled the rollout and provided the expertise to do the integration onboarding setup. The pandemic in 2020 turned everything on it’s head. Marketplace and eCommerce penetration was accelerated as people flocked to online shops and IT departments were forced to relinguish control to both operations and marketing often playing second fiddle.
The downside here is that most IT departments, in the current environment are taxed for resources. They haven’t budgeted for bringing on new selling channels and don’t have dedicated resources that have the expertise to do the integration work. The result is that integration now has become a business function. It’s no longer a nice to have, it’s a must have.
The impact of this shift from IT to Operations for data integration has meant that many companies embark on setting up new channels without a complete assessment of data management and the potential impacts on the business. It is all very fine to want to have a chosen channel set up and tested by a particular date but as a wise integrator once said the devil is in the details. And the details really do matter!
From our 28+ plus years of experience in integrating systems, the succesful merchants are those where there is a partnership between the IT departments and operations/accounting. The reality is that IT often doesn’t understand the business implications off setting up an eCommerce shop or getting an Amazon account functional, and conversely, the business departments does not have the technical skill to do the integration, setup and testing.
Marrying the two together into a partnership takes the best of both worlds and allows for a streamlined integration methods approach that addresses all issues business and technical. The reality is that eCommerce impacts all aspects of a business unlike any other channel. The reality is that most of the time businesses looking for the for the expedient and cheap route often get burned sooner or later.
Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen
The dramatic uptick in new channel onboarding as a result of the COVID-19 has meant that many different players have input into the integration solutions onboarding process and the outcomes. We see ERP vendors and their VARs with their preferred approaches, we see plug-and-play solutions and eCommerce agencies all trying to get in on the action. Each come to the table with their preferred approaches. These approaches are based on the level of expertise and knowledge the solution provider brings to the table. Often the vendor-specific approach limits growth, or are built with little or no redundancy.
The reality is that the debate will continue to rage on as long as there is a marriage of business information technology transmitted in an electronic manner. A business must look at the strategic value of creating a dedicated team that bridges IT and business processes operations. The islands of technology and knowledge approach we have seen in the past, we all know rarely works efficiently and works even less in the current pandemic environment. To help in bridging the gap we have put together a quick checklist for merchants ot follow:
- Have you documented ship methods, tax authorities and payment types and how they correlate between the ERP and the marketplace/ecommerce shop?
- Have you looked at how customer orders are fulfilled. Are shipments split?
- Do you have a single inventory pool or a separate inventory pools by channel?
- How do you realize revenue and capture payment?
- Do you pricing models fit with the ecommerce shop? This is critical with B2B eCommerce.
Keep In Mind
VL OMNI can help, we view data integration as a fundamental business and technical exercise that impacts your entire technology stack and operational strategy. Our strategic integration managed service with VL OMNI promotes:
VL OMNI’s unique consultative approach to data integration means a better data integration strategy. We are able to work with complex systems, technology stacks, and customized applications as our integrations match corporate strategy. Our managed service approach allows our pre-built connectors to be tailored to your specific business rules