As enterprises' IT demands expand and become more complex, system integration is becoming increasingly significant and a premier requirement for business evolution and progress. Investment in system integration is growing steadily and organizations are realizing that having a centralized systems network helps to increase productivity, improve efficiency and add value to customers.
As time goes on, companies require more and more complex technology systems and the demand for solutions that optimize operations and, consequently, the return on investment, is progressively growing. In this sense, system integration is paramount so that organizations can upgrade their production systems and technologies when necessary, increase their productivity and respond to their long term IT necessities.
This is exactly why investment in system integration (SI) has grown so much in the last decade. The market research consultancy Grand View Research published a report in 2019 that pointed out that the system integration market will reach $530 billions in 2025, doubling 2015's amount —$234 billion— in 10 years.
What is System Integration?
System integration is the process of interconnecting all of a company's IT systems, technologies, applications and softwares so that they function as a single system. It is used in both internal and external systems and connects the entire business infrastructure, enabling interoperability between the different tools.
Businesses employ a large number of disparate systems that operate independently, are programmed with different coding and have divergent programming languages and codes. System integration, therefore, acts as an interpreter between the different codes, programming, software and hardware so that data can flow seamlessly and uninterruptedly.
In practice, system integration is also another data integration procedure that enables the convergence of information between all business systems automatically. Without integration, companies would operate in a disjointed atmosphere and information would have to be entered manually into each system, which would increase the risk of technical failures, greatly delay work procedures and routines, and hinder the organic flow of information exchange. Thus, system integration is the key that fits all the pieces of the puzzle together so that the tools function as a centralized network and operate according to a consistent architecture.
On the other hand, the role of system integration is becoming increasingly relevant as the transformation of infrastructures, protocols, formats and technologies advances at a frenetic pace. SI allows businesses to update their tools without having to dispense with or change all the others or break the connection chain. In other words, system integration allows companies to continue operating with their legacy infrastructure while incorporating new technologies, software and applications.
The advantages of system integration: why it is relevant
As already mentioned, businesses are not only working with more and more systems, but also replacing them more frequently. System integration responds to companies' increasing IT demands, making it easier for new systems to be integrated with the already existing business infrastructure. In fact, nowadays, tools and applications are already designed with their future connection with other systems in mind.
However, the great value and the main reason for the effervescent investment in SI is the optimization of business operations. Having a centralized network of systems increases the efficiency of information exchange and workflows and ultimately enhances productivity. It also reduces operating costs, improves tool response time and ensures that information is available when needed.
On the other hand, it increases value for customers, since it upgrades the performance and quality of the products and services. Therefore, it not only contributes to higher productivity, but also has an impact on the quality of the products and services offered by the company.
It also optimizes data-related practices and can lead to other benefits such as:
- Extending systems' lifetime and simplifying new technologies implementation.
- Promoting data security and integration.
- Consolidation and standardization of data stimulating data quality.
- Avoids interruptions and failures in operational and business processes.
- It favors the exchange of information with customers, suppliers and other external members.
- Simplifies data governance and data management.
Problems related to systems integration
There are different methods to integrate systems (API integration, webhooks, ISC, etc.) and multiple ways to carry out the process that vary according to the needs and the number of systems of each company. However, it is not a simple procedure and can cause problems. Some of the most recurrent are:
- Long-term scalability: SI must be carried out thinking about the future and with the evolution and expansion of the infrastructure in mind. Therefore, it is important that the integration is compatible with the scalability required by the business. Otherwise, over time, the integration could involve setbacks and make it difficult to acquire more systems.
- Choosing the wrong tools: If we opt for a tool that is unsuitable for the IT needs of our business, we may experience drawbacks such as extremely slow implementation, inefficient functionality or very high acquisition and maintenance costs.
- Different departmental needs: Within an organization, each business unit uses different systems, applications and softwares. System Integration must have a useful architecture for all departments and standardize data enabling access to all team members.
Until recently, organizations that needed to integrate few systems used EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) platforms. These platforms, however, had very high acquisition costs and ended up being uneconomical. Other companies opt for ETL processes that work efficiently, but when the number of systems increases, their maintenance and evolution can turn into a nightmare.
Nonetheless, the benefits of SI outweigh the possible adversities that, by resorting to the right tool, don't need to occur. At Bismart we have been working in system integration for many years. We have had the privilege to help numerous companies from different sectors to implement this type of process, successfully solving its challenges. The key, in addition to having the right technology and using effective methodologies, is to adapt the process to the needs and characteristics of each business.
Our solution, Enterprise Information Integration & Master Data Management, is a unique platform developed with Microsoft SQL Server and based on Power BI. Information oriented, it stands out because of its flexibility —it adapts to the particularities of each system— and long-term scalability. It enables the exchange of business information between systems from a single point of reference, centralizes the management of master data and streamlines the process by minimizing the efforts required and reducing the number of integrations needed. It supports large data volumes and is capable of working in near real-time.
Undoubtedly, the great peculiarity of this solution is that it is specially designed to promote data governance, data quality and data management. EII/MDM includes auditing services for data acquisition and delivery or publication processes, a 360º view of the information lifecycle, incidents notifications, information historification and a dashboard environment to facilitate management for administrators. In addition, it standardizes and consolidates data, thereby strengthening its quality and ensuring its reliability and security, protocols that are increasingly decisive for compliance with current data protection regulations such as GDPR.
System integration, therefore, is now a requirement for the long-term competitiveness, progress, productivity and profitability of organizations. Moreover, it should not be understood as a stand-alone process, but as a process linked to data governance, quality, security and control. Only in this way, SI will be really fruitful, bring the expected results and promote a data-driven business culture.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your case with one of our experts, do not hesitate to reach us!