In the alignment of internal and external systems of a business, we are talking about the alignment of business strategy with IT. The customers and the public are served by an external system while the internal users of IT, that is, the managers, the other employees and departments operate on the internal system.
The question is: what can IT do to align the two internal and external systems of information?
Business IT systems should not be established for the benefit of the internal users only. Likewise, they are not established for the benefit of the external users only. The idea is to align them in such a way that the IT team will have satisfied end-users of the systems both internally and externally.
However, a little more emphasis should be paid to the external users since this mostly means the customers. It would be a very bad image for the customer to have to be kept waiting for a call to go through, or for the customer representative to have to browse through the systems to contact a customer.
What is the benefit of aligning the external and internal systems?
1. By seeking this kind of alignment, the business is usually looking for a way to make sure that the information for internal processing as well as the information for the external viewing by customers and the public is centralized. This sounds hard, and indeed it is hard. However, IT can find a way in which all this information can be made available at one place.
2. The chief benefit of this kind of centralization is that information updates can be done much faster and that once done, there will be no need of replicating anything across the systems because once updated, the update will happen across all the systems, at the same time.
3. Remember, the information will be held in one place, thus making it easier to monitor and secure. In addition, the information can be updated easily, thus eliminating any chance of having outdated information being used.
4. Another benefit of aligning the internal and external information systems is that the customers experience a better service. The business will also save more money since the centralization of information means that there will be no need of many customer service representatives.
Customers will be able to serve themselves as they can fill up the orders for the things they require, make their own payments without needing the services of a customer care representative.
5. Aligning the internal and external systems gives you a good scalable operation at work. How is that possible? You see, no matter how many customers have to be served, the number of distribution points will be enough and if they are not, more can be created as the business grows.
6. When you align the systems, you will find that there will be minimal need for training users, since, largely, the external systems are by design simple to use since they are made for customers. Thus, this kind of simplicity will be replicated during the alignment.
7. While the information will be made available to the customers as well as the internal users, the good news is that there is a way to shield the information that should not be seen by the external and anonymous users who access the systems over the internet.
At the same time, since the external users do not have as much knowledge as the internal users about how the system works, the IT team will have to interpret the system for them.