5-key reasons why you should invest in System Integration (SI)
SI for interlinked & interoperable businesses
System Integration (SI) refers to a unified approach towards your business infrastructure and processes. A good visual metaphor for SI is the metro system which connects all network points.
SI applies to:
- Independent or complementary modules which are connected within a larger, consolidated frame or business logic
- An overarching management process which coordinates the distribution and sharing of information among submodules automatically
SI is everywhere around us:
You want to find out some information, launch a query, but the answer is broken, staggered, or not real-time. SI can bring together the back-end components, and then aggregate and deliver a unified response to your queries.
You want to open an online sell-point platform and want to have the data in several systems synchronized at all times. SI can automate the data synch and reduce manual work to zero. For example, let’s say you have an e-commerce site where you want your customer data (personal info, id) and the customer order data (current and historic transactions) to be linked automatically.
You want to have a middle-layer agent which orchestrates how a change in one part of the system affects all the other parts of your system. For example, you are a multinational company and you want to enable all subsidiaries to use the entire range of available applications, make changes, issue requests, without cross-division conflicts.
You have struck partnership with a business which delivers services which are a popular add-on to what you sell. You now offer your customers a package which gives them holistic access to a range of services. Behind scenes, your business and your partner’s business need to integrate at some level, which means that data needs to be exposed, exchanged and consumed.
SI use cases & methods
SI is key for many use cases. Here are some of the most common ones:
Legacy system to get rid of
You have some legacy system that you want to transform or to migrate to something newer.
Legacy system you cannot get rid of
You have some legacy system that you cannot give up, but you want to link it to something newer.
Available 3rd-party software
You need a customization for your system, but instead of building that customization in-house, you want to integrate with a 3rd-party software which can do the job.
You have acquired a new business and you notice there are several components which do the same thing or which require the same data. To avoid duplication and redundancy, while maximizing exchange, you resort to SI.
You want your customers to access your products or applications from multiple platforms or devices. SI helps you connect various applications and databases, especially if you resort to cloud services.
You want to use the data collected from your customers in order to improve customer experience and deliver top-notch solutions for their needs. You are already collecting data from many sources, but have trouble centralizing the data and its many formats. SI can deliver a unified view of the data which you can then analyze or which the system can analyze automatically.
The use case will generally dictate what the focus of the SI should be.
Data SI means that you want to avoid redundancy at all costs by standardizing and integrating the existing data into one solution. Data SI is necessary if you want the system to automate data curation: clean up, structuring, and analysis. Data SI requires investment in data warehouses (cloud or on-premise), software that can host and manage repositories, software that can extract/aggregate/deliver information that can be used.
Webhooks SI means that you can subscribe to system events and get notified when they occur. The events happen in a system that you use without being its direct owner or development agent. Webhooks SI enable you to tap into relevant changes and updates from 3rd-party services that integrate with your own modules. The benefits of Webhooks SI are:·
- Access real-time data without making requests (in contrast to the API approach)·
- Allot zero time for collecting the changes, evaluating them, and then integrating them back into your system.
API (Application Programming Interface)
API SI ensures that systems are integrated on the basis of common code elements: parameters and data models. API SI enables systems to:·
- Send and receive data throughout solutions (in contrast to the Webhooks approach which does not allow for write-update operations)·
- Handle data variation
Orchestration SI offers the highest level of integrator automation, by managing tasks among several solutions. An important benefit of orchestration is the fact that it handles task scheduling and repeated processes, thus improving user connectivity and information flow. Automation across all platforms and sub-systems ensures optimal data sharing, enhanced transparency, and simultaneous management of the systems involved.
SI ensures that your business software has the appropriate gateways in place, so it can adapt to the unforeseen or the necessary. SI keeps your virtual door open for business now and tomorrow.
Optimize data and asset management
Your data and assets are your business superstars. Bad or mismanaged data paves the way to operational and process deficiency. SI ensures that your data and assets are in optimum shape at all times:
- Data is standardized, parsed and centralized automatically, especially if it is multi-sourced
- Data is entered once and distributed to all relevant systems
- Data is analyzed faster
Boost daily productivity
Your daily operations are smoother and more efficient if:
- System request-response actions are coordinated
- The overall integration framework acts as business facilitator for information and collaboration
- Internal and external communication are synched
- Human or system errors are prevented and mitigated
- Data is accessible round the clock
- Manual operations are reduced to a minimum
SI enhances daily fulfilment requests, leaving you with more time for other business operations, strategies, or management activities.
Make informed decisions
SI enables you to understand and evaluate the state of your business very quickly because the module gateways are interconnected. SI ensures that your data and insight are not siloed.
SI truly unleashes the power of your data by increasing its intrinsic and contextual value. You can use real-time data and access prior historical data to draw conclusions on behavioral patterns or unexplored opportunities.
Enhance governance and extensibility
SI keeps business logic and processes in order and in check:Ø
- Knowledge is always accessible
- New integrations are always possible
- You are never locked outS
I and digital transformation go hand in hand.
Improve customer experience
SI enables you to deliver outstanding customer experience:
- Reduce the time users spend on navigating through multiple screens and processes
- Simplify the interaction with a service
- Store user preferences and anticipate them
- Personalize customer offers and services based on prior behavior
SI requires expertise knowledge and a higher initial investment, but this can save you a lot in terms of maintenance costs in the long run.
SI should be managed by professionals who understand your business needs and can devise a strategy to evaluate and prevent security risks. Your business data is your most valuable asset, so bake extensive security in your SI.
SI is driven by professionals at each step of the way, from ground-zero level to business-as-usual mode. Doing SI does not mean that you will never have to invest in an upgrade ever again or that you will never have to migrate something from one platform to another. However, when you do decide to upgrade or migrate or change something, the turnaround time will be drastically diminished.
SI steps to success
Any successful SI should follow a clear roadmap.
1. Prepare a list of requirements for your integrator
- Business goals that must be achieved short/long term
- Expected timeline
- Available budget
- Current technology
- Expected SI improvements
2. Decide which type of SI you need
Internal staff and competencies moving forward
Business analysis checklist (features and benefits)
3. Decide how the UI design will change
- More or fewer interfaces
- Simplify current interfaces or build from scratch
- Matrix where goals are mapped onto functions and integration steps
- Description of how the current system will work until SI is done
- Description of how will SI impact current systems
- Implementation phases (resources, responsibilities, requirements)
- Risk assessment and limitations
5. Implement and test
6. Deploy and use
SI investments take your business and your software infrastructure out of monolith zone:
- Stay connected to current and future data sources
- Keep your data pervasive and in synch across modules
- Tap into 3rd-party functions and data to increase the value of your own data
- Automate data collection and transformation
- Extract insight from multi-source data
- Perform less manual work
- Lower your software maintenance cost
- Extend your system outreach
- Make customers love working with you
If you are interested in combining AI with System Integration, check out our article about the benefits of this combination.