Here is something your IT department should think about.
With the London 2012 Olympics around the corner, it dawned on me that Enterprise software for some companies resemble the Olympic logo. That is, 5 independent islands of databases connected to each other like a Venn diagram.
Each circle represented a single business application.
Their ERP, financials and HR were one software package (one ring), their CRM was another ring, and their Service Desk for external customer support was the 3rd ring.
As well, they had an internal ITIL Help Desk software package (4th ring), and finally the last ring was a Bug Tracking database (for those in the software industry).
In a perfect world of Oracle Exadata, you would rewrite your complete applications suite having all your data in one database. There is some merit to this as the data is shared among several applications. (i.e. HR should have an inventory of your IT devices. i.e. customers calling in with a bug to a software package should be relayed to Development team.)
When picking cloud applications, it is important to ensure compatibility and integration.
Salesforce.com doesn’t want to get into the full blown ERP industry, but there are smaller apps like FinancialForce that can do the job for a small to mid size company.
Like the Exadata model, there are a lot of advantages in using a shared schema with standard objects. As long as you have the custom ability to add additional objects like tables, the integration between apps should be seamless. So when it comes down to custom reports across all objects (i.e. both the standard CRM, your other apps, and your custom apps), that too should be seamless. Double entry is not allowed!
Here is an example for 5 critical apps from small to large sized organizations:
- External Service Desk for Customers
- Internal ITIL Help Desk for Employees
- Bug Tracking / Defect tracking database (for those in the SW industry)
(This is only an example. There are more applications such as Marketing Automation that can be added.)
A sample configuration using the Salesforce model would be using FianancialForce, CRM, Service Cloud, RemedyForce, and a custom app for Bug tracking. (I haven’t had a chance to add up the approximate costs)
There is a lot of parallel between any two given applications and having a shared schema makes sense to prevent the double entry nightmare.
There is one element that wraps the entire rings, and that is collaboration. (email, forums, and/or social network feed-type application such as Facebook, Twitter, Yammer or Chatter)
Email attachments are a thing of the past and having a global collaboration tool will increase your productivity.
This model, with all the applications housed under a central collaboration tool, is the new way of doing business. Unless, of course, you are still using shrink-wrapped business application software from different vendors and using email as your primary source of communication.