We are in the digital economy. 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 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. This force multiplier must be capitalized in a massive way by modern-day enterprises if they have 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. For example, Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube to generate a unified persona-related data impression that becomes the basis for their targeted advertisements and 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. 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, process, infrastructure, and security. They might have multiple disparate applications on multiple disparate environments (on premises, cloud, and hybrid), propelling multiple processes, and generating multiple data sets. Such a disparate setup is common 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 the new renewable energy that successful companies worldwide are harnessing upon. It has all the characteristics of renewability. Hence, enterprises can fearlessly reproduce and replicate, refine and restyle, and reuse and repurpose the 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 the refining agent which not only purifies but also integrates all in 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 on 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 even if it is 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 the sun with 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:
The Illimitable, insightful, and inexhaustible nature of 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 are much more than what they do when they are left to operate in siloes. Imagine connecting the ERP systems with the CRM and this is further connected to the EWM (Enterprise Warehouse Management). This is how Amazon ensures such a 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 data set can provide different meanings 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 on the basis of their requirements. This is a fundamental tenet of data democratization too. Data’s reproducible and replicable 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 must never be a default choice. Not only are they costlier, but they are also unwarranted as there should be some precedent of such integrations in the past (if an enterprise is large enough). Hence, it only makes sense to leverage any earlier integrations and build upon them if necessary. This way, the best practices get passed on and the challenges during the building of previous integrations are well avoided. Such reuse and repurposing of integrations lends the benefits of good economies of scale to the enterprise.
Analysts suggest 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%. The enterprise application integration 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 (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, Dell 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 enterprise integration platforms have their own pros and cons; it is important to ensure that the platforms support the following key elements satisfactorily:
A good hybrid integration solution must fulfil the following features:
- Integrate: The platform should allow seamless hybrid integration of SaaS and on-premises applications. It should also enable homogenous and heterogonous applications to communicate effectively.
- Expose: It should have as-is businesses and traditional models as APIs for consumption
- Simplify: It should enable app development with microservices, and deploy them on-premises or to the public cloud
- Secure: It should create encrypted gateways for secure access to on-premises APIs and data
The enterprise integration market is at a tipping point and is primary 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 widening of this demand. This is the right time for organizations to enter the integration solution fray, partner with the right service vendors, and conduct an objective analysis of their “as is” standing versus their “to be” desired state. Then, they can use the expertise of these vendor experts to arrive at the best iPaaS platform for their enterprise.