Today’s enterprises rely heavily on enterprise software applications. Often, said software applications have been created by different vendors and built with different technologies and standards. At some point, every enterprise finds itself with massive volumes of data locked in complex applications that might require departments in their own right to access.
The technological response to this has been to integrate - to plumb together these systems together, allow them to communicate with one another, and thus form solutions that can perform in a unified manner. PricewaterhouseCoopers, examining digital transformation from a broader perspective1, estimates upward of $400 billion on cost and efficiency gains - and it all starts with integration.
Optimize business processes, reduce costs and bottlenecks
Integration allows organizations to creates a central software architecture that’s able to seamlessly connect and pass data between systems and software. This essentially eliminates bottlenecks (such as data transmission and conversion) and cuts down on the inefficiencies of dealing with multiple software solutions within a company. By reducing communication delays and increasing accuracy, it brings a host of benefits - essentially making your business run much faster, more efficiently, and with far less human error involved.
Integration also opens up some unique technological opportunities; these form the core of a digital transformation process that translates directly into better business performance.
Leverage the technology and cost savings of the cloud
One of the biggest disruptors of modern IT has been the Cloud and software-as-service (SaaS) revolution. Businesses now have access to the world’s finest technology and infrastructure in large volumes without needing to navigate the complexities of running it in-house.
According to RightScale’s State of Cloud survey for 20162, 82% of enterprises have a Cloud strategy. With Salesforce, Google Apps and Netsuite being examples of the kind of functionality that can now be purchased as a Cloud-hosted service, that’s hardly surprising.
Integration provides the underlying technology for your existing systems, people, and processes to connect to cloud services. This allows you to tap into robust technology from companies dedicated to that task, bringing easy scaling and purchasing according to your requirements and cost savings from the reduced need for hiring and software development in-house. You can now create a business where your technological infrastructure blends seamlessly with services running half a world away.
Integrate legacy systems instead of making costly replacements
The process of upgrading a technology investment is often essential - old software may not process data in the same manner as the new; a new service may need to be connected and your old system may not be able to support the functionality at all.
However, replacement with a better system is a costly move. Often there is downtime and a re-training period as employees begin to work with the replacement system. Vendors may even force your hand by making such upgrades necessary for the functionality you need.
By connecting systems to each other, and by providing a central pipeline through which both old and new systems can communicate, Integration allows you to save costs, keep using your existing infrastructure and add functionality piecemeal, using separate applications and services, growing incrementally as capability is needed. Eventually, this scenario leads to a fully functional hybrid integration - a mix of on-premise and cloud systems where diverse solutions are brought together to work as a whole.
Tap into innovation by enabling the creation of new digital assets
Integrating systems together provides the opportunity to create entirely new products and services - some of them in-house.
This could range from creating hassle-free ways for employees to use documentation and HR processes right from their desks to making it easier for managers and analysts to access the data that’s brought out when they plan ahead.
While a highly contextual area, this opens up opportunities for optimizing revenue that could not have existed before. For example, an inventory control system that’s integrated with purchasing can now trigger an automated ordering service. A partner access portal might allow trusted third parties to use data directly from the system or create applications that work with yours. The cost of transactions between business units reduces significantly, while the enterprise, its customers, and partners gain both a significant speed advantage over competitors that are held back by the speed of doing complex, repetitive operations manually.
Make better decisions with richer insight into an integrated business
One of the pain points with traditional businesses is the fact that information - especially regarding performance - is rarely in one place. Creating a complete overview of an enterprise becomes difficult; several people must be consulted and the information may not always be up to date.
In Deloitte’s 2016 Analytics Advantage survey, 84% of respondents agreed that using analytics within the enterprise led to better decisions; Deloitte recorded that the most frequent champion of analytics is the business unit leader or head, and often the CFO.
Integration lays down the technical foundation for this level of analytics and informed decision-making. With an integrated business, every piece of data sent between systems immediately becomes more visible to the entire enterprise. This allows an enterprise to engage in proper digital analytics and make decisions with context and awareness from all business units, leading to better revenue and cost reduction.
Build a business that can adapt quickly to changing conditions
Every major business in today’s world operates in global markets that can change with astonishing speed. Anything from market failures to difficulty identifying potential can bring about the downfall of an organization. A classic case study would be Kodak - the company that invented the digital camera, and yet failed to realize where the markets were headed and how to move accordingly.
In the modern enterprise IT world, enterprise integration also has the added effect of making an organization a ‘connected business’: one that enables customers, partners, employees, internal, and external systems, as well as any other parties, to deeply engage and collaborate with the enterprise. This allows you to deploy changes faster, and to integrate new software, people and process into the business much more quickly than ever before.
Integrating the enterprise
Integration provides a unified communication layer between the disconnected products, business units and partners used in a company. In doing so, it also brings about what we call the digital transformation of an enterprise - an evolution from a traditional business into an enterprise that can leverage technology to outperform its competition.
WSO2 Integration is a complete solution for this digital transformation. It runs at the heart of everything from big businesses to governments worldwide, changing how organizations work, transform and react.
For more technical information, read our whitepaper on the evolution of integration within enterprises to see where WSO2’s integration architectures can fit in your enterprise.