Top Five Takeaways from Cleo Connect 2018

Team Cleo
Top takeaways from Cleo Connect 2018

It’s been a few weeks since so many Cleo customers converged on Nashville for a week of connecting, networking, and all things integration. But as the calendar turns further into November and we approach the end of the year, we wanted to highlight some of the most important lessons learned from Cleo Connect 2018 and the potential business implications for the coming year.

Keynote speaker Billy Beane discussed the importance of looking for new opportunities to win against the competition. Cleo CEO Mahesh Rajasekharan spoke on the challenges that arise from IT modernization and what companies can do to avoid them. And Cleo customers from many leading companies shared their experiences during a panel on how they are leveraging new and emerging technologies for success.

Here are the biggest takeaways from this year’s Cleo Connect.

1. The Importance of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a term that has been thrown around a lot lately, and it’s one that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different organizations. There is one common theme, however, regardless of the industry an enterprise is in. Every organization must seek to transform their approach, processes, and technologies in order to truly optimize their businesses.

There are a number of companies that have successfully managed to modernize their IT systems through major investments in digital transformation initiatives. Macy’s and Target have each restructured their businesses to focus on digital, with Target in particular leveraging its physical stores to take advantage of a weakness in Amazon’s business model: the lack of same-day delivery.

While those two companies are finding new ways to thrive in today’s landscape, there are others who failed to adapt. Sears and Toys R Us did not see the writing on the wall, instead continuing to focus on more traditional buying and selling cycles and outdated business models. They were left behind by companies who instead made a true commitment to establish a digital transformation plan and grow with their customers digitally.

2. The Cloud Isn’t Just in the Sky

It seems that many people are still finding new ways to ask the question, “To cloud or not to cloud?” But that’s becoming less applicable as we approach 2019. It is no longer a matter of whether or not you are going to go all-in with cloud computing or remain fully on-premise. Instead, the question centers on which processes or applications are going to get migrated to the cloud within your organization.

You might not even realize it, but your company absolutely has something in the cloud right now. And going a step further, you also are interacting with your ecosystem through the cloud. “On-premise is not dead … it’s just a little bit more cloudy. Whether you know it or not, your ecosystem already views you as ‘the cloud,’ ” said Dave Brunswick, vice president of solutions at Cleo during a session at Cleo Connect.

For those companies that are comfortable with their on-premise solutions, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care about the cloud. Customer expectations are driven by cloud services and experiences in some capacity, so, your business partners and customers expect similar experiences and results from the systems that you deliver regardless of where they live. Thus, there is a continuum between on-premise and the cloud, and plenty of gray areas in-between.

3. Look at the Entire Ecosystem, Not Just B2B Integration

B2B integration – interacting with other organizations outside yours – will always be critical to success for enterprises, but organizations need to think beyond B2B integration and focus on their entire ecosystem. The methodologies, technologies, and services that facilitate, enhance, and support the interactions between a dynamic network of entities, such as people, businesses, and applications, also interact to create and exchange sustainable value for all participants.

Today’s integration platforms consistently enable tomorrow’s business ecosystems, while simultaneously, today’s ecosystems are already impacting and disrupting supply chains in industries that include manufacturing, healthcare, and financial services, to name a few. Gaining insight into your ecosystem and having influence over that dynamic network is the key to transition successfully from short-term to long-term strategies.

Such ecosystem enablement is typically facilitated using middleware, such as an iPaaS solution or integration brokerage. These technologies arm enterprises with more than simply B2B management and integration tools, which tend to focus on partner and community management. They also provide the dashboards and insights into end-to-end business processes that create value for you and your ecosystem.

4. The Future is EDI and APIs – Together

 There are proponents of EDI, and there are proponents of APIs. Conversely, there are also detractors of EDI, and detractors of APIs. But for organizations to succeed in this digital world, EDI and APIs will need to co-exist. This has never been truer for those enterprises looking to leverage things like automation, blockchain, and IoT to improve internal efficiency and stay competitive within their respective industries.

APIs are critical to extend the capabilities of platforms such as EDI, and to utilize communication between software programs. While APIs will play an increasing role in ecosystem enablement, they also aren’t enough by themselves. Technologies such as EDI that are delivered via an iPaaS will play an extremely important role in the heavy lifting of partner management and community enablement. But as APIs by itself aren’t enough, neither is EDI.

APIs augment EDI to provide organizations a deeper and more critical look into B2B integration workflows. On one hand, APIs tell you where in the store you will find the products you want, while on the other, EDI allows you to then go ahead and buy those products. In order for companies to gain a better and more sustainable business experience, APIs and EDI must work together.

5. The Integration World is in a New Paradigm

Enterprises are at the point where they must think beyond specific roles. By specific roles, that means to no longer think of your position as an EDI coordinator or an EDI specialist. Instead, start to think like a business analyst. Companies must evolve their ways of thinking and start to consider the business flows they actually are trying to execute, and thus, the business impact of their integration solutions supporting those flows. It’s no longer an EDI-focused skill set; it’s a skill set focused on enabling positive business outcomes.

It’s critical to develop an understanding of how you can better understand revenue-generating business processes, automate them to drive new value, or optimize them to cut costs and save money. Business integration is no longer about transactions; it’s about business impact. Ecosystem-driven cloud integration platforms enable enterprises to reliably enable the transaction but in the context of better business value and outcomes.

A Look Ahead

Considering the importance of digital transformation and ecosystem enablement in today’s business landscape, these topics might also be some of the main takeaways from the next Cleo Connect in Orlando. In the meantime, download this IT modernization white paper and learn why every successful digital transformation and modernization project starts with an ecosystem-driven integration platform.

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