Mulesoft recently published their 8th annual “Connectivity Benchmark Report”. The report reveals that organisations with at least 1,000 employees now have an average of 1,061 applications in operation.

A mind-boggling number considering the number of resources required to run and maintain a single application. 

Why are we running so many applications?

There is obviously not (yet) a single application that can support the full set of company requirements in their entirety. So, businesses will need to run several different applications to manage the wide variety of processes company-wide. 

But as companies grow, expand and develop, so will the number of applications that they use. Large companies normally have multiple strategic programmes and projects running at any one point in time and each of these are often tied to software applications that are driving the new improvements and initiatives.

For each new process or initiative that requires some degree of support from software, a company will naturally ask itself, whether this can be achieved with existing applications, or whether a new application should be onboarded. While many would prefer to expand existing applications in theory, this is not always so easy. 

Read more: Use Stibo STEP to accelerate digital transformation in manufacturing

Prioritising stakeholder needs

There can be many dependencies and considerations for the existing functionality of an application and there could even be conflicting interests between the current stakeholders of the existing application and the stakeholders of the new initiative. The new project would likely need to “get in line” to get their wishes fulfilled in the existing application, which probably has a priority list of its own.

So, introducing a new application in the organisation instead of expanding an existing application could often seem like the fastest and easiest solution. 

And who doesn’t like fast and easy solutions? Especially since the organisation already runs so many other applications, it wouldn’t hurt to introduce just one more, would it?

Adding to that logic, who cares if there’s an overlap of data in our new application compared to other existing applications. It’s used for different purposes anyway and maintained by different people, so what’s the problem?

The IT impact of mergers & acquisitions

Another source of new applications to the IT landscape comes when the company merges or acquires other companies. Aligning the IT landscape of two different companies is a massive task and will likely add to the growing number of applications that it’s managing.

So, over time, a typical scenario would be for a company to have a line of applications stacked up, and slowly, but surely increase the overhead spent on software licences, hosting, solution maintenance, support, double data maintenance, etc. 

According to the report from Mulesoft only 29% of the applications in the surveyed companies had any kind of integration to other systems. 

In other words, a lot of the data in an organisation lives in silos and data is therefore duplicated and maintained in every application wherever the same entity appears. 

So, a normal large operation could be running maybe 1000+ applications with most of them running without integration to other systems, it’s not hard to imagine that there is a large potential to consolidate applications to reduce direct and hidden costs in the organisation.

But the misery of having too many redundant applications doesn’t even stop there. Managing company data in silos running in applications –  each optimised for a specific scope and purpose – has another major drawback. 

Organisations also lose out on the data insights that can be gained by having all information about products, customers and other master data domains gathered together in a single location. 

Read more: CEOs should consider MDM to help address their top concerns for the next 10 years

IT infrastructure consolidation with STEP from Stibo Systems

Companies that find themselves in a position with multiple applications and too many silos of data in the organisation should take a look at Master Data Management (MDM). The core principle of MDM is to establish a single record of all data objects in the organisation and then to share this information with relevant applications.

There are several MDM software tools available, but we prefer STEP from Stibo Systems. Companies implementing Stibo STEP will often find that they can decommission several legacy applications in their IT landscape as part of the consolidation of master data on a single platform. 

This is because STEP provides a centralised platform for managing all master data, which often enables the company using STEP to retire multiple legacy applications that were previously used to manage data across different departments and data domains.

STEP is a very open and scalable platform and comes with a broad set of API’s as well as standard connectors to other popular enterprise software applications.

Read more: 3 Signs Your Business Needs Stibo STEP Master Data Management Solution

Legacy applications can be costly to maintain, and they often require significant resources to keep them up and running. Sooner or later, they will also become desupported which could introduce an operational risk for the organisation. 

By consolidating master data onto a single platform like STEP, companies can streamline their operations, reduce costs, and improve data quality and accuracy.

In addition to reducing the number of legacy applications needed, implementing STEP can also help to reduce data duplication and inconsistencies. 

With a single source of truth for master data, businesses can ensure that all departments and systems are using the same data, which can help to improve overall business efficiency and decision-making.

Overall, implementing a Stibo STEP MDM system can help businesses to modernise their data management practices and eliminate the inefficiencies associated with legacy systems.

Unit of Measure is 100% STEP focused - a Stibo Systems Partner

With more than 20 years of experience in implementing STEP for businesses across the globe our single focus is on making STEP the key to your success.

Book a free consultation with us and let’s together explore how we can help you consolidate your IT landscape with STEP. 

Read more: 7 ways To Advance Your Business with Stibo STEP Workflows

Facebook changed their name to Meta Platforms in 2021 to underscore its focus on the Metaverse, investing $100+ billions of dollars in preparing for the next big wave. Their investment in the Metaverse in 2023 alone will amount to almost $20 billion. 

According to Forbes by 2024, the metaverse is predicted to grow into a $783.3 billion market, presenting both opportunities and challenges for organisations and how they address a new customer engagement strategy.

A new channel to reach your target audience

Futurists predict that the Metaverse will become mainstream within just a few years and in a recent report by Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, 72 Metaverse experts predict that by 2030 the average consumer will spend 5.6 hours per day in the Metaverse and that having a presence in the Metaverse will be just as important as having a homepage for commercial brands.

If you think this sounds like a stretch, just think back to 1989 (if you’re old enough to remember). That year the blockbuster movie “Back to the Future Part II” was released. 

The movie made a series of technological predictions about the year 2015: Video conferencing on flat screen monitors, tablets, mobile payments, video glasses, waste fueled cars and much more (we will forgive them for still having phone booths in the movie).

To most of the movie goers in 1989, these were all just entertaining gimmicks that served as a backdrop to Marty McFly’s wild adventures across space and time.

But unbeknownst to most of these movie goers, the Internet would become mainstream just a few years later, changing the World and paving the way for many of these implausible gadgets.  

According to Forrester and their State of the Metaverse report, there are opportunities across all industry sectors to build out Metaverse capabilities. While early adoption among consumers is likely to come from gamers and those who are active on social media platforms, mainstream adoption will be following soon after. 

It’s not yet clear what shape or form the Metaverse will take once it transcends from the gaming world into more mainstream areas and it might be difficult to figure out what to believe and where to start, but what if we boiled it down to this:

Within the next few years, browsing the Internet will become a whole new experience and online consumer behavior and engagement will change radically. Companies who are prepared for this could win big and companies still kicking tires could be left in the dust.

An omnichannel marketing experience

Brands globally continue to focus on how to provide their end-consumers with a seamless and consistent customer experience across multiple touchpoints and channels. 

Today omnichannel encompasses in-store, online, web, mobile, email, social media, and more. The Metaverse adds to the capabilities of an organisation to reach consumers by taking them into a world of immersive experiences, across virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

People (customers/consumers) will be able to engage with digital content in completely new ways. They will visit your digital store - within the Metaverse or not -  and will expect that they can get an immersive experience of trying your products before they buy.

“Does my ass look big in these jeans?” or “Would that sofa fit in our living room and how would it look?” are questions that some online retailers are already trying to address, but expect that this will spread to many more areas and types of products and become increasingly more sophisticated.

Maybe they will expect that they can easily - maybe even visually - follow your products’ journey from origin and through the production processes and supply chain to make sure it's climate-friendly and sustainable. 

But how should companies prepare for these imminent changes?

If you look under the hood of all the exciting technologies that will make up the front-end of the Metaverse, there is a big need for a very strong master data foundation. 

What is a master data foundation?

A master data foundation refers to the underlying infrastructure and systems that support the collection, storage, and management of master data within an organisation. 

It brings together all the various technologies, processes, and policies that ensure the accuracy, completeness, and accessibility of data, as well as the governance and security measures in place to protect the data. 

A solid master data foundation enables an organisation to leverage their data assets effectively, and make informed business decisions based on data-driven insights.

The role of Master Data Management (MDM) 

Most large companies have invested in Master Data Management (MDM) solutions in recent years to achieve a single source of truth about their products, customers etc. This is an imperative in today’s fast moving 24/7 world. 

But are the MDM implementations of today ready for the next wave of requirements for supporting immersive experiences for customers?

Each implementation of an MDM system was made with whatever the requirements at the time were. That’s fair enough, because the investment addresses those immediate pains of not having access to good data in the organisation. 

But, maybe now is the time to focus five to seven years ahead into the future. Creating a vision of how your company will be ready to welcome customers that interact with your company in the Metaverse. 

If the goal is for customers to be able to simulate use of your products in their own environment under many different conditions, what types of data and references to other data objects would your Master Data Management system need to have implemented by then?

Would you need to introduce new data objects in your data model and integrate new sources in order to prepare your company for these new requirements? How many data points would need to be available in the back-end for a fully immersive digital interaction with each of your products?

How can STEP help?

If you believe in the experts’ predictions for 2030 or if you just believe that the requirements for the data you will be expected to deliver will continue to grow, now is the best time to get ready for the future. 

If you run your MDM solution on Stibo STEP from Stibo Systems, you should be well covered for what is to come. This is a highly scalable master data platform that is based on configuration rather than coding, which means that it is very easy to extend the data model to support new data types and even complex relationships between objects. 

Several of Stibo’s customers selling highly configurable products are already using the platform to support complex configuration engines that allow their customers to simulate their use of the products in order to find just the right combination of products for their project. 

These types of configuration engines will likely become common in order to support the multitude of ways and variations that customers are likely to engage with your products in the Metaverse.

At Unit of Measure we have 20+ years of experience in helping organisations maximise their investment in the Stibo STEP master data platform.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can prepare your organisation’s master data for the future, please book a free discovery meeting. 

The headline from PwC’s 26th Annual Global CEO Survey says business leaders fear a dramatic fall in economic growth and expect the need to transform or die in the next decade.

The PwC global CEO Survey summarises the responses from 4,000+ CEOs from 105 countries about their views on the current situation of their company and their expectations for the coming years. 

PwC Annual Global CEO Survey 

The objective of the PwC survey is to identify key trends and patterns in the global economy that affect important management decision-making by leaders of the business establishment.

The survey makes for stark reading, as it reveals the downbeat view of CEOs on their own company’s growth prospects, which has dropped to the lowest level since the financial crisis of 2008. 

When asked the question: “If your company continues running on its current path, for how long do you think your business will be economically viable?” almost 40 percent responded “10 years or less”.

In other words, four out of 10 CEOs expect that the next few years will bring changes so impactful in their industry that it will threaten the company’s existence if they don’t adapt. 

PwC is not alone in painting this dark picture. EY (Ernst & Young) released their own CEO 2023 Outlook Study which also showed that the majority of CEOs fear recession will be worse than the financial crisis.

The EY survey, which recorded the views of 1,200 CEOs across the globe, found that 48% foresee a moderate slowdown in the global economy, while more than half (55%) of those preparing for a persistent downturn fear a recession worse than the global financial crisis of 2007-08 in terms of its length and severity.

What are the factors that will affect ongoing business performance?

When PwC asks about which factors CEO’s believe will impact their company’s profitability in the next 10 years, the top concerns were: 

So let’s look a bit closer at these points for a moment.

Changing customer preferences

As consumption trends and customer preferences change, it has a direct impact on the purchase behaviour for certain products or services. 

As a business, adjusting rapidly to these changes can require shorter product life cycles and more product variations, potentially requiring new research and development efforts, as well as changes to marketing and sales strategies.

Along with changes in customer preferences, there may also be a shift in terms of how an end-customer wants to purchase products or services. For example, customers are moving away from physical stores (bricks and mortar) to online marketplaces, or they may prefer to purchase products through subscription services (Direct to Consumer) or social media platforms.

With a 24/7 always on digital world, customers can always tap the internet to review, research and assess prospective purchases. That means customers may be gradually changing how they want to interact with businesses before, during and after a purchase. 

Companies need therefore to adjust their communication protocols to match these preferences, potentially requiring changes to customer service processes, technology infrastructure and taking on an omnichannel approach to customer touch-points.

Regulatory change

Authorities are putting companies and their products under increased scrutiny and regulatory enforcement. 

Many companies are working hard to comply with current regulations, and to stay on top of this will require a whole new approach to data collection and documentation through-out their products’ value chain. 

One area of regulation that continues to expand and has business leaders worried is sustainability and the environment. As a result, CEOs need to further incorporate sustainability and social responsibility into their company culture. Failing to address these concerns could lead to a loss of customers and reputational damage.

What has changed in the minds of end-consumers is that they are willing to pay more for products with green credentials. So, as well as brand owners making public commitments regarding their green goals businesses need to show their commitment in response to the increase in regulatory and stakeholder pressure. 

Skills shortages

Most companies have already experienced problems with finding and retaining the right applicants with highly desirable skills over the last few years, causing a hot job market for certain profiles and skillsets. 

Without the right resources in place it will become increasingly difficult for businesses to grow and develop. And with a limited pool of qualified workers, the demand for their skills will only increase, driving up labour costs and the competition to keep and attract applicants. This could affect the ability to maintain profitability and may require adjustments to budgets and pricing strategies.

The current downturn in the economy in 2023 may soften this blow a bit, but the long-term trend is clear. Companies will struggle to recruit enough hands/heads to support the required company transformations. 

Companies will need to work smarter and find ways to automate mundane tasks to get more done with less, proactively investing in upskilling and reskilling to stay ahead of the recruitment curve, especially when it comes to new technologies and emerging skills.

Technology disruption

We are on the brink of a major shift where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) and other related technologies will disrupt entire industries. 

The cost and risk of lagging behind in adopting these technologies might be higher than for those organisations that ignored the Internet in the mid-90’s. 

The Internet revolution was slowed down by the need for major shifts in consumer behaviour and lack of high-speed internet infrastructure. But the biggest impacts of the AI and ML revolution might first be seen inside a company and their adoption speed does not seem to have that kind of speed bumps in their way. 

Is Master Data Management (MDM) the answer?

When I read the PwC CEO report, I must admit that I was looking at the issues through a Master Data Management lens, because it's a tool that can from experience make a difference.

And the theme of these issues is clear to me: Good data and the ability to process data efficiently is a prerequisite to address these challenges and achieve the agility necessary to respond fast enough to these changes. 

Companies must establish a lean IT infrastructure, a solid master data foundation and streamlined business processes, defined by a high degree of automation, speed and high capacity through-put.

Companies will undoubtedly need to do other things as well, but these elements create a solid foundation on which a company can launch the necessary initiatives without getting blocked or held back by a lack of proper data and an unresponsive organisation paralyzed by legacy IT applications defined by technical debt and siloed business processes.

The Stibo STEP Master Data Management platform can help you achieve these goals and at Unit of Measure we have the know-how and experience to successfully implement STEP in your organisation. 

Book a free consultation with us and let's explore how we can help you get your master data in shape and prepared for the changes waiting by the gate.