Maximizing Business Value With Enterprise Integration
The digital economy's success will depend on how well its stakeholders maximize their resources by reusing, replicating, connecting, and interoperating them.
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We are in the Digital Economy and as it applies to all economies in the world, the success of this relatively new but no longer nascent economy will depend on how well the stakeholders of this economy maximize their resources by reusing, replicating, connecting, and interoperating them. The value of synergy is always greater than the value of individual components contributing to it and this force multiplier needs to be capitalized in a massive way by modern-day enterprises if they wish to succeed in the digital economy.
The advertisement moolah that Google and Facebook rake in is precisely because they do not look at their business entities in siloes; rather they connect and integrate valuable customer data points from various entities like; for example, Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube to generate one unified persona related data impression that becomes the basis for their targeted advertisements and their consequent success rates. Likewise, Netflix integrates and converts data on the subscriber consumption pattern to intelligent movie recommendations that lead to higher viewership, greater new subscriptions, and improved Net Promoter Scores (read word of mouth).
The key point to note is, in this digital economy, while every enterprise’s vocabulary has the term Digital Transformation in it, very few actually succeed at it, and those who do (like Google, Facebook, Netflix or Amazon), have leveraged the power of Enterprise Integration (EI) well and gained from its force multiplier effects.
Understanding the Value of Enterprise Integration
Organizations seeking success in the digital economy need to change their mindset around applications, data, processes, infrastructure, and security. They might have multiple disparate applications on multiple disparate environments (on-premise, cloud, hybrid), propelling multiple processes and generating multiple datasets. Such disparate set up is understandable for large and medium-sized enterprises. But, if these disjointed elements (applications, data, and processes) do not interact with each other and operate in isolation, the enterprise will be inundated in the wave of big data, confused in the maze of multiple processes, and set back by the legacy of applications without gaining any insights that can further their business objectives.
Enterprise Integration is new renewable energy that successful companies worldwide are harnessing upon. It has all the characteristics of renewability in it and hence enterprises can fearlessly reproduce and replicate; refine and restyle, reuse and repurpose data emerging from the enterprise applications, processes, and data using APIs and AI to maximize business value.
If Data is the new Oil, Enterprise Integration is that refining agent which not only purifies it but also integrates all into one and connects them logically to derive valuable business insights.
How Does the Renewable Nature of Enterprise Integration Maximize Business Value?
What is the foremost thought that occurs to your mind when you think of renewable energy? For me, it's the sun. Now imagine the sun for a moment and you will find that it would not exhaust no matter how much you use (Reuse), it would not sulk to rise in Washington if it has risen in Singapore once (Replicable), it would not wear out if used to produce solar energy (Reproduce and Repurpose), it would not mind if you chose to filter it through a curtain or choose to get sunburnt on the beach (Refine and Restyle). It just gives and yet its power never diminishes and benefits us innumerably in the context of life.
Now, let us replace Sun with Enterprise Integration (EI) in the context of the Enterprise and evaluate the 6R benefits it offers for us to maximize enterprise productivity and value. We will find that Enterprise Integration extends such renewability features and offers a multitude of synergistic benefits for the modern enterprise. Take a look at the figure below.
Figure: The Renewability and Synergistic Value of Digital Integration
The illimitable, insightful, and inexhaustible nature of Enterprise Integration (EI) essentially encourages enterprises to do the following:
- Connect your applications, data, and processes: For when they interact, the synergy they create and the insights they provide is much more than what they do when they are left to operate in siloes. Imagine connecting the ERP systems with the CRM and this further connected to the EWM (Enterprise Warehouse Management). This is how Amazon ensures such seamless order to delivery experience. Such event-driven integrations are made possible through modern iPaaS (Integration Platform-As-A-Service) products.
- Share Insights: The same dataset can provide different meaning and insights to different processes. Hence, it is important to share such insights as widely within the enterprise as possible so that stakeholders can tailor their use based upon their requirements. This is a fundamental tenet of Data Democratization too. Data’s reproducibility and replicating nature enables a faster, simpler, and scalable distribution and the intersection of such data pollination gives rise to better customer service, improved conversion rates, and improved CSAT and NPS.
- Reuse Integrations: Greenfield integrations should never be a default choice. Not only are they costlier, but they are also unwarranted too as there should be some precedent of such integrations in the past (if an enterprise is large enough). Hence, it only makes prudent sense to leverage any earlier integrations and build upon them if necessary. This way the best practices get passed on, the challenges during the building of previous integrations are well avoided. Such reuse and repurposing of integrations lend good Economies of Scale benefits to the enterprise.
Gartner suggests that 70% of projects get delayed owing to a lack of integration between applications, data, and processes. On the corollary, the above principles of Enterprise Integration, if followed by an organization, can help it in fast-tracking projects by 70%!
The Enterprise Application Integration market was valued at USD 9.65 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 22.69 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 15.42%. This market is further fueled by the fact that organizations might have to use more than one iPaaS platform to integrate within their organization (meaning iPaaS platform-1 integrating with iPaaS platform-2 and so on). This is because organizations may already have an integration platform from years past (hence a bit dated) and they may require integrating with another more modern integration platform for cross-system integration. There are many iPaaS platforms currently available in the market but key ones such as Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC), MuleSoft, Boomi, Workato, AWS, Azure, WebMethods, Tibco, Jibberbit, etc. have all encompassing features to provide enterprises with a holistic end to end Integration solution.
While all of the above-mentioned platforms have their own pros and cons; it is important to ensure that the platforms support the following key elements satisfactorily:
Figure: Important Features of a Good Integration Solution
A good Hybrid Integration solution must fulfill the following features:
- Integrate: Should allow for seamless hybrid integration between SaaS and on-premises applications. It should also enable Homogenous and heterogonous applications to communicate effectively
- Expose: The “as is” businesses and traditional models as APIs for consumption
- Simplify: Enable app development with microservices, and deploy them on-premises or to the public cloud
- Secure: Create encrypted gateways for secure access to on-premises API and data.
The Enterprise Integration market is at a tipping point and is primarily being driven by Hybrid Integration deployments. Enterprises cutting across industries (especially Financial Services, Telecom, Manufacturing, and Healthcare) are fueling this demand. With organizations sitting on a wealth of data, it is only imperative that they integrate all vital business components and get a unified version of the data.
The next 4-5 years will see this demand widen and this is the right time for organizations to enter the Integration fray, partner with the right service vendors, conduct an objective analysis of their “as is” standing versus their “to be” desired state and then use the expertise of these vendor experts to arrive at the best iPaaS platform for their enterprise.
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