Using edge technologies to get more out of your existing systems

Directors looking to bridge the gaps in their business system capabilities often feel they are faced with only two options – invest in a new system or extend their existing systems.

Buying in a new system can be drastic in terms of the impact on people and processes, not to mention the cost. The advance of cloud based digital transformation solutions is giving companies a third option – to complement and enhance core business systems with edge technologies.

The custom digital solutions include low-code mobile and desktop apps, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) ‘bots’, and custom forms and workflows as well as Business Intelligence and reporting layers. These bespoke solutions don’t require significant up-front capital investment, and can be implemented incrementally, meaning they are lower risk and faster to implement than off-the-shelf business applications.

If you’ve already bought Microsoft 365, then you have access to the Power Platform, a technology stack that you can use to streamline processes, improve efficiency, transform operating models and enable new digital products, services and channels. If you're not a Microsoft house then a range of digital transformation products are available which do the same job, and compete well on functionality and price.

For many businesses digital transformation enablement is about the right blend of old and new technologies.

Key questions to discuss with your leadership team:
  • What opportunities exist to use digital technologies to enhance existing systems, streamline processes, improve efficiency, transform the operating model and enable new digital products, services and channels to market?
  • Are there manual, repetitive, non-value adding tasks in business processes that could be automated?
  • Are there processes in your business that have not yet been digitalised and/ or have bespoke business requirements that off the shelf solutions can’t meet?
  • Do you have older legacy systems that you’ve been told can’t be integrated with your other systems?


What does this often look like in businesses?

Lots of companies remain reliant on spreadsheets to manage and execute processes. It’s common to see lots of paper forms and manual re-keying of data into systems. There’s generally a lack of systems integration and lots of manual interfaces between customers and suppliers.

Many businesses have looked at adapting their core systems but they either can't be modified, or it would bend them too far out of shape. They've looked at off the shelf solutions but they either don't meet the requirements or are too expensive.

What does good look like?

Businesses who lead on using tools like low-code and RPA start seeing even the most difficult to digitalise business processes being transformed end-to-end with cloud solutions that are accessible by desktop and on the go via a mobile app. User interfaces are designed around exactly what each user needs to see and do at their stage in the process, removing unnecessary system complexity and delivering the same high-quality user experience normally associated with consumer facing apps. Process and data flows move seamlessly between fully integrated systems and management have data insights into process efficiency, lead times and effectiveness, along with real time exception and workflow management.

Companies at the higher levels of maturity are lifting their talent up the value chain by automating back office processes. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is software that’s programmed to complete transactional data entry tasks like payroll, or sales and purchase order processing. One business that adopted RPA re-trained a data entry clerk as an HR advisor – she’s happier in her new role and the business is getting far more value out of her contribution.

The Microsoft Power Platform technology stack includes Power Automate for workflow automation, and PowerApps for bespoke mobile and desktop apps that can integrate, extend and enhance, legacy systems, improve customer service, transform the user experience, and increase efficiency.

Group 16 (1)

Checkmate Fire, the UK’s leading passive fire protection specialist, used Power Platform to integrate their sales, operational and accounts applications. The limitations of the three systems, Salesforce, Boris and ClipIT, meant teams across seven regional offices were using inefficient manual processes, spreadsheet empires, and off-system workarounds to manage business operations. Fluid extended the life of these legacy systems by building a ‘bot’ in Power Automate. The bot creates contract records in BORIS and ClipIT by copying and entering data from Salesforce. No more manual re-entry of data or administration burden of spreadsheets.


"Working on this project has allowed us to react faster than ever before, with less manual input, ensuring we identify business risks early and act on them quickly, giving our customers the best possible service and embracing digital technology"

Damien Ward, Checkmate Fire
National Technical and Compliance Manager



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