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In 2001, I was in the final term of my master's in e-Business at La Salle University in Barcelona. Ramon Ollé, who at the time was the chairman and CEO of Epson Europe, gave a master class on innovation and explained how, with the advent of the Internet (that had been around for “just” a decade), competition was no longer between multinational companies (e.g., General Motors vs. Toyota). Instead, competition was now among the cluster of vendors that formed a partner ecosystem around brands. Success was tied to the ability of the vendors in those ecosystems and their systems to collaborate real-time to enable the two main sources of customer satisfaction: exceeded expectations and speed.

Fast-forward 10 years to 2011, when Geoffrey Moore famously first spoke about systems of engagement. He described the traditional enterprise system that stored and managed data and transactions as “systems of record,” or enterprise IT 1.0, declaring that these were “no longer a source of competitive differentiation for organizations.” In a complementary way, systems of engagement (or “the next stage of enterprise IT”) would enable companies to engage with their customers and suppliers, and vice versa, with a focus on communication to enable collaborative business in real-time with all the benefits of mobility and speed. By connecting systems of record with systems of engagement, Moore promised that “enterprises can dramatically improve the timeliness and effectiveness of their responses to customer issues.” This would lead to competitive differentiation and market success.

Systems of engagement have evolved and outgrown Moore's original definition to include social media, mobile apps, and SaaS services such as Salesforce or Workday, and we see new ones emerging to claim new and improved ways of meeting unfilled needs of enterprises and customers. Clearly, systems of engagement are key to the (present and) future of IT.

Systems of record continue to be the spinal cord of enterprises, and the need to connect systems of record with systems of engagement remains. Now more than ever, the systems, devices, and services that customers and vendors use to interact with the enterprise need to be connected seamlessly and in real-time with systems of record.

It all starts with the customer, at the “moment of truth” when they choose a new supplier or place a purchase order. The concept of “moments of truth” was popularized by Jan Carlzon during the successful turnaround of the Swedish airline SAS in the 1980s. He believed that business success was rooted in the succession of moments in which the company interacted with a customer (If you are curious, here you can find the original deck that Carlzon used to rally the troops).

Let’s stop for a second here. What happens after your moment of truth? Are your processes agile and collaborative? Have you automated activities that can be and ensured that every piece of data and information needed will be available? In real-time?

A key element of customer satisfaction is the speed at which their demands are responded to, and this is perhaps most critical after the time of sale. Once the customer has made a purchase, they know that their money is on the way, but the goods have not left the warehouse. In business-to-business transactions, where the procured materials may be key for customer business processes (and thus, tied to customer satisfaction), this may be even more crucial.

How can you quickly connect your SaaS apps (systems of engagement) to your on-premise or cloud applications (systems of record) for a speedy and precise response, while unlocking value from your existing enterprise assets?

Let me illustrate this through a use case about creating a unified customer experience using Red Hat JBoss Fuse, SAP, and Salesforce. A salesperson closes a deal with an enterprise customer. Upon closing the deal he launches a mobile application on his smartphone (in this case, created with FeedHenry by Red Hat, the mobile application platform that Red Hat acquired in 2014), and recovers the prospect information from Salesforce. He confirms that the sales opportunity has been closed, immediately notifying the SAP system and creating a customer record, which will serve as the foundation for the creation of the additional delivery processes for the customer. Using the opportunity information in SAP, an order can be created in such a way that the process can start at the moment of the confirmation by the customer and easily through a smartphone, as opposed to transferring this information via manual or semi-automatic procedures after returning to the office.

At the heart of these interactions is Red Hat JBoss Fuse, a lightweight enterprise service bus which includes Apache Camel, a popular and powerful implementation of the most commonly used enterprise integration patterns. JBoss Fuse is a robust, flexible, and easy-to-use platform to integrate applications, data, services, and devices. When the information powering your business is spread across disparate applications, SaaS services and systems, on-premise and in the open hybrid cloud, JBoss Fuse is an effective and cost-efficient way to integrate applications, data, and devices within your enterprise, both on-premise and in the public and private cloud as an iPaaS service running in OpenShift by Red Hat.

But don’t take our word for that. In the Forrester Wave™ for Hybrid2 Integration, Q1 2014 Red Hat is in the Leader camp for the deep integration scenario and among Strong Performers for wide integration.

That’s why AMD synchronizes information across the enterprise in real-time for a major leap forward in business process continuity, providing up-to-the-minute operational intelligence to get products to market faster. And why E*TRADE built a risk-computing platform for its high-volume trading products, achieving higher performance, greater scalability, and improved reliability at significantly lower cost. Or the reason why Vodafone improved development and operational processes and increased productivity and simplified complex processes.

All thanks to JBoss Fuse.

Next time you face a moment of truth, think about what your organization is doing (or could be doing) to exceed customer expectations!