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10 signs you need to update your integration strategy

July 8, 2015

Over the past 15 years, there has been a huge shift in the way software is deployed. From being mainly on-premise, companies are increasingly moving applications into the cloud and adopting a hybrid IT approach. This change has created new challenges, a significant one being integrating cloud and on-premise software.

It used to be that only large enterprises that could afford an enterprise service bus (ESB) – the integration solution of ten years ago. Today, integration software has moved to the cloud, becoming more lightweight, flexible, and affordable than the monolithic ESBs. So small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can now also reap the benefits – eliminating redundant systems and applications, and time-consuming manual entry.

How do you know if it’s time to update your integration strategy so you can cost-effectively tie everything together in a comprehensive, enterprise-wide infrastructure? Here are 10 signs.

1. Traditional integration tools don’t work for mobile and cloud

Legacy systems were relatively easy to integrate with on-premise middleware. However, today’s complex and hybrid IT ecosystems make old-school integration tools less-than-effective in the face of digital business change, mobile application demands and cloud-based initiatives.

2. Need to integrate legacy and line-of-business systems into financial systems

A recent study commissioned by Sage found that many customers want to ensure that key data is centralized in a system of record, usually their financial application. Companies operate with disparate systems, some legacy, others specialized for a line-of-business, others in the cloud. Using these systems creates islands of data and inefficient processes that require duplicate data entry and high risks for data entry error.

3. SaaS vendors don’t provide good integration

In moving to the cloud, businesses thought that “app integration was auto-magical.” Most SaaS applications are single point solutions and aren’t built with enterprise-wide integration in mind. As a result, many organizations have to create inefficient work-arounds to compensate for the lack of vendor-provided integration.

4. Resolve integration spaghetti

Companies using older integration technologies tend to find that customized point-to-point connectivity between systems becomes so complex that it is unmanageable and difficult to change. Integration and application interoperability are issues that will grow in importance in the cloud, mobile and Internet of Things, so businesses need to address integration requirements using a more structured approach.

5. Security is a concern

Siloed business units, unintegrated SaaS apps, and complex data transfer processes from on-premise systems to the cloud all create security nightmares for IT managers. Implementing an up-to-date integration strategy enables IT systems to be streamlined and simplified for more robust and secure data flow.

6. Current APIs are inadequate

At one time, APIs seemed to be the answer to virtually any integration issue, but today API management can be part of the problem, especially for SaaS where API standardization is spotty at best. As a result, organizations can end up spending too much time and money figuring out how to get APIs and SaaS apps to play well together.

7. Integration requires multiple log-ins

Complex IT infrastructures suffering from piecemeal traditional integration often force end-users to log into multiple apps and databases to create the comprehensive digital picture necessary to work on projects.

8. Too many resources are being consumed

Organizations – especially budget-conscious SMBs – that find themselves throwing more money and workforce resources at integration in an effort to meet evolving operational requirements need to consider a cloud integration strategy.

9. Business has different data updates needs

As businesses move to a hybrid IT approach with more scattered applications, they learn that data latency (how long it takes to access source data) varies depending on application and business needs – from weekly batch to real-time updates. Consequently, different data latency capabilities needs to be supported.

10. Enable business flexibility

Whether it’s ‘digital business’ or ‘digital transformation’, it seems clear that enterprises are going to need to be more flexible and adaptable as the world becomes increasingly digitized. Predicting the kind of data or applications that support this is difficult, but you need to have a plan and a technology that will give the business the flexibility required.

The older integration technologies are difficult and expensive to use, so a new approach needs to be taken. A modern integration strategy enables an organization to utilize a single, comprehensive solution that securely and reliably links on-premise legacy systems with newer, cloud-based ones for seamless, end-to-end infrastructure connectivity. There is still time to update your integration strategy, and it can be done initially in parts of the organization, rather than across the entire business. You can start by evaluating integration platforms that can streamline and automate integrations across multiple functional, divisional and geographic locations, that support a variety of on-premise and cloud-based applications, and above all that minimizing the risk and cost of your integration strategy.

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