Jaakko Elovaara 02.06.2021 13 min read

Why industry knowledge is so critical for a fully managed data integration service

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Earlier this month, we published an article explaining what a fully managed data integration service is and what differentiates it from a managed data integration service. In brief, a fully managed service means that besides understanding its own area of expertise, such as data integration in this context, a vendor should possess a great deal of experience and understand customers' industries and lines of business.

In this article, we will share examples from real life to demonstrate why industry knowledge is so critical for a fully managed data integration service.

Deployment / implementation

Once you have agreed and contracted a vendor to offer a solution to you for some specific need as a service, you expect the deployment of the solution to be smooth and professional. Unfortunately, this is not always the case due to various reasons.

At Youredi, we measure our added value to customers in multiple ways — qualitative and quantitative, if possible. Occasionally it isn't easy, but it's an important matter. Customers using a managed service offering need help from their vendors. We, as vendors, must be the trusted parties to provide best practices and business knowledge besides technical solutions addressing the needs. We feel that the importance of handover from sales to operations cannot be underestimated. In this industry, the handover is often done to teams without a clear understanding of the industry needs and challenges based on our observations and feedback received. This is natural to some extent. However, in our line of business, the importance of exceeding the expectations customers have is crucial. In the typical scenario, professional services teams are familiar with the technology solutions but often lack the understanding of what the client's business is all about. As a result, the launch date is postponed, and the efficiency of solutions can be far from expected, and it does not add value to any party in the cooperation.

At the deployment phase, it's important to scope the initial solution, share best practices, challenge the customer as needed and agree on how to move on, with clear milestones, responsibilities and deadlines. The importance of not overpromising cannot be underrated. Often vendors that are focused on a specific industry as their core strategy have a better hit rate in ensuring such an experience.

Talking the same language

Industry focus is similar to talking the same language to achieve targeted results.

How can you help your customer if you don't understand their business? How do their operations scale? How do they automate processes? How do they achieve transparency and enable optimization?

In 2014, we decided to focus on global trade and logistics, and it has paid off. Today, our customers, many being world-leading companies, highly value our services and expertise in a chosen domain related to EDI to API process connectivity.

We feel that sustainable vendors must proactively add value instead of reactively responding to service requests and needs to do something with their technologies deployed.

One of our valued customers told us that they had an experience in the past with a more horizontal solution provider who never understood the details of the value chain of an import business, including who is involved, the role of warehousing, 3PL, forwarder and why it is so important to have full audit trails in delivery lanes from order to delivery. It's hard to create genuine industry knowledge for any industry for any vendor.

 

Know your platform capabilities and do not overpromise. What can be done and what not?

No vendor, including Youredi, should overpromise what their technology platform and solution can handle. We are running regularly into cases where traditional VANs (value-added networks) or stiff older on-premise software solutions cannot handle the current and future needs of data processing. By data processing, we mean data enrichments, data validation, state management, and other kinds of "side-steps" to make the data valuable and better fitted for automation and naturally business decisions by applications, people, or both. Legacy applications were not designed to cater for these needs, as they did not exist 20-40 years ago. The pace of technology development is getting faster and faster.

This is a global market, and word goes around quickly. If you cannot deliver what you promise, you're not improving your reputation. This is extremely important for companies such as Youredi.

There are far too many examples of delivery failures due to a lack of understanding of the needs or overpromising what the technology can do. Often, the traditional big software companies are the suspects.

It is a great internal learning experience to objectively evaluate various cases; what went well, what did not, what parties can learn from it, etc. It is a solid process to build the libraries of best practices and added value to the industry.

We have been very strict internally with this matter as it is an effective foundation for winning the trust of key players in the industry. To be trustworthy is one of the core elements of our company values.

By the way, the best companies in any industry think and act exactly in the same way towards their customers. It is all about meeting expectations and bringing value.

 

Change management in the modern world & constant optimization

The world is changing, the pace of change is accelerating fast. The last 18 months have gone even faster due to the pandemic. However, even without the pandemic, it is difficult and sensible to respond to current market needs with old technologies.

Using information available to optimize business decisions, this can be called data-driven business management.

It is not just receiving or sending existing information in some data format anymore. Instead, the information in the flows of data must represent better and more complete quality at the right time. In some customer deployments, we are running over 70 sub-processes (these could be called "side-steps") for the information flows in scope. These needs are constantly changing as businesses are optimizing performance. People are smart by nature, and there is always a need for being better at what and how they perform their tasks. That is what best companies do: be best at getting better, and the best vendors must be able to add value to it. This is the real contribution of vendors. This topic is a natural bridge to the last element of this blog.

 

Sustainable solutions by trusted advisors. No hit & run mentality

"How many times do you think you can lose credibility? - Once, and you won't get it back easily."

An often-used metaphor on many occasions in life, and applies in business environments. Vendor landscape transformation is massive; it is driven by cloud adoption, "Amazon experience", and the strong ambition level of modern companies to change the world, which many have done, especially focusing on individuals and consumers. In the past, it was hard to break into Fortune's top 1000 companies with a smaller team, shorted company history and a state-of-the-art technology solution even though the pitch and uniqueness would be a no-brainer to the audience.

Times have changed, and will change.

When combining strong industry expertise, technology skills and a best-of-breed platform solution, you are sitting on a good pile of assets, and so are those customers who have gotten your time, attention and resources. It is a daunting task for potential customers to find this combination on the market.

Customers want and deserve sustainable solutions with a solid foundation from multiple angles. The solutions must be based on real smart software solutions, not some half-automated labor-intensive modules. In our target markets and line of business, we sometimes run into vendors using screen scraping technologies (pulling information from public websites with automated "bots" doing queries). It is a technology choice that has no sustainability or certainty of continuity, nor alignment with potential data ownership regulations. However, service providers always use these methods to "lure" the companies into their camp and then possibly fail to meet the expectations.

In this blog, we tried to focus on a few important matters related to fully managed service offerings. We hope this information will help you find not a vendor providing a fully managed solution but a data integration partner enabling your business to grow. If you have questions or comments, please contact us at any time. The Youredi team is always at your service.

 

About Youredi

Youredi is the leading provider of fully managed data integration services and solutions for logistics and the global supply chain.

Youredi enables customers' business scaling and automation through its unified and modern platform for API and EDI transactions. Besides technology, we understand your business.

Youredi's solutions are versatile, secure, reliable, and provided as a fully managed integration service. Youredi enables quick data connectivity and process integration between trading partners of any size. Integrating with ecosystems, carriers, shippers, consignees, and the systems they use, Youredi provides global scale, speed, and agility. A seamless and timely flow of 100% accurate data provides organizations with the ability to analyze and optimize all their supply chain processes.

Youredi operates globally from Helsinki, Finland, and New York City, USA.
For more information, please visit www.youredi.com or contact us at talktous@youredi.com.

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Jaakko Elovaara

Chief Executive Officer, Youredi

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