Robin H Smith Virtual Logistics Inc

[Podcast] FrankReactions Interviews Robin H. Smith of VL on Systems Integration




Click here to listen to the full podcast by FrankReactions

In episode 33 of FrankReactions’ podcast series, Tema Frank interviews Robin H. Smith of Virtual Logistics Inc. on the importance of systems integration in improving the overall customer experience.

Tema hit a home run when she started the podcast with the statement;

“One of the biggest barriers companies face in improving their customer experience, especially now that everything’s going omnichannel, is the challenge of integrating all their systems and data so that ‘everyone’s singing off the same song sheet’. It’s really tough, and although there are integration companies out there to help you do it, unfortunately they often don’t do themselves a lot of good because they tend to speak very technically, which can be very intimidating and off-putting to people who really need their services.

If you are seriously interested in improving customer experience in your organization or in improving your marketing in your organization, you really owe it to yourself to listen to this interview.”

This timely interview is well worth the listen, as many pertinent points are made around the subject of barriers to integration as well as managing and effectively running a business in an increasingly digital and automated world. Click through to go directly to the podcast, or keep reading here for the highlights of some of the great discussion had in the interview, and then you should go listen to the podcast anyways.

While the podcast interview between Tema Frank of FrankReactions and Robin Smith of VL was absolutely full of great insights and quotables, there were a few that really stood out. See the list below for the quotes and time stamps for a tantalizing look into the full discussion – and then listen to the podcast in it’s entirety! It’s well worth your time, and it’s also worth noting that FrankReactions has made this podcast available on iTunes and for Android. (FrankReactions also provides a great summary article in accompaniment the podcast.)

Here are just some salient points made in FrankReactions’ Podcast interview with Robin Smith of VL, so if “Do Words Like ‘System Integration’ Make you Shudder? This May Help“:

  • 5:00 In the last 5 years, we’ve had this explosion of omnichannel; now the data touch points are becoming incredibly complex because you’re now dealing with applications that have different mechanisms to interface.
  • 9:07 [Tema’s] description of fulfilling an order from a Shopify e-commerce store exemplifies what a lot of companies struggle with:

    “Understanding how the information flows.”

  • 12:06 The challenge is including the right mix of applications and data to satisfy the desired customer experience.

    “Plug-and-play or point-to-point integrations may be fine when you’re a small company, but once that company starts to scale, this is where things start to break down. This is where we see a lot of companies coming to VL; they’re trying to connect everything together with these point-to-point integrations, but they haven’t designed the data flow. This is where a lot of companies are failing or having a hard time.”

  • 22:42 The approach VL takes is first asking where the central hub for all the data is, and then from there, what are the ‘spokes’ you want to put in place around that central hub? This ensures data synchronization happens across the board.
    • TEMA (23:23): So you end up with different data results in your different applications. ROBIN: Exactly.
    • ROBIN (23:29): The other benefit of the central point of truth is you now have the ability to turn different applications on and off, depending on how your business evolves.That gives you the ability to scale and be a lot more flexible in your integrations.
  • TEMA 34:09: What are the questions businesses should be asking and looking for in choosing an integration partner? ROBIN: You need to look beyond the technology, and you need to look at the depth of knowledge. How open are they to educating you?

    “Too many companies approach that type of relationship – it’s adversarial. They want to squeeze them for the best price without realizing that in fact you’re creating a partnership with a company that’s integral to the success of your business.”

    So why would you start the relationship on a footing where I’m going to try to squeeze you until you bleed? And that, I think, is a real change all this technology is forcing on these companies, because it flies in the face of what happened in the past.

There were a number of resources referred to in this podcast.

If you’re interested in further educating yourself on why data and systems integration is important, check them out:

  • 12:40 The life cycle of an order. If you go through this infographic, it’s a perfect world where things go from box to box, but that’s not how the world works.

This infographic was discussed in VL’s presentation at Dx3 2015. Check the video here:

  • 16:18 VL hosted a webinar where we talk about all the different types of interfaces between applications

Did you also know that Tema Frank of FrankReactions was featured in our 7Q series for Ecommerce? 

Tema gave some great insight on how e-commerce and marketing are intimately related. Read her full interview here.


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