A Deep Dive Into IT System Integration Strategies

Every journey, no matter how well-planned, has its bumps and detours. Troubleshooting is your toolkit for navigating these issues, and keeping your integration project on track.

System integration helps organizations with a wide range of IT processes like customer relationships, business promotions and sales, employee information management, and compliance with government policies. Integrated systems facilitate easy sharing of data, and reduce bottlenecks in key decision-making functions.

The Pillars of Integration

System integration is an invaluable business solution, enabling information subsystems to be connected into a unified application mesh. Whether you need to automate supply chain transactions and operations, facilitate quicker vendor communication or drive better collaboration between internal teams, system integration is an indispensable tool.

Regardless of the complexity of your system integration requirements, there are some fundamental principles you must understand and follow to successfully realise your project goals. The first step is to establish the business needs driving your project – what outcomes do you want to achieve? Having these clearly defined will ensure your project has the necessary focus to deliver value.

The next step is to determine which systems or applications will need to be integrated, and how they will be synchronised. This process will help to identify potential issues and risks to be addressed before proceeding with your integration project. It is also important to consider any side benefits you may wish to deliver – such as increased productivity, capability or enhanced user experience.

This stage requires detailed blueprints and descriptions of how the integrating systems will interact with one another. This can be achieved through different architectural models such as point-to-point integration, or more complex integration networks involving middleware or APIs. Depending on your organisation, you may choose to develop a custom architecture to meet your specific needs, or opt for one of the common models.

Data Integration

Data integration involves breaking down siloed systems to provide users with a single source of truth. The goal is to give employees access to the same data, regardless of where it’s stored, so they can make more informed decisions and collaborate more effectively.

This can be done in a number of ways. For example, using middleware to connect different applications — a type of software that acts as a mediator between the platforms — can make it easier for legacy and modern systems to work together. This can also reduce the number of engineering hours needed to get information into and out of a system.

Another way to do data integration is to use change data capture (CDC). This technology identifies and moves only the changes in data from one system to another, which can help reduce the processing time required by ETL (extract, transform, load) tools.

Other methods of data integration include federated data access or unified data view, which allows different sources to be accessed through a single database. It’s important to consider how your business currently uses and stores data, as well as future data types that may need to be supported, when deciding which type of data integration is best for you.

Business Process Integration

Business process integration connects different systems and applications within your business to allow smooth communication, real-time data sharing, and standardized operating procedures. Without this, each business unit operates in siloes that create delays and inefficiencies. Business process integration helps to eliminate these issues and ensures that you have a comprehensive view of your company’s revenue-generating processes.

When implemented correctly, it can help to improve employee productivity, increase efficiency, and streamline operations. However, it’s important to note that BPI is a more challenging and time-consuming task than the other types of integrations mentioned above. This is because it requires more in-depth coding and development.

The key to a successful BPI is having an end goal in mind. This will help to keep your team focused and on track as they work towards achieving the desired outcomes of the system integration. This may include improving cross-functional collaboration, enhancing data visibility, or boosting revenue growth.

Another important consideration is ensuring that your BPI is scalable. As your business grows, so too will the number of processes and systems that need to be integrated. The implementation of a BPI that isn’t scalable can lead to inefficiency and costly delays. Therefore, it’s vital to plan ahead and incorporate scalability into your system integration strategy. This will help to prevent your business from encountering any unforeseen obstacles down the road.

Application Integration

When systems are connected and working together, it’s easier to reduce manual processes and automate tasks. This frees up resources to improve customer service, increase productivity and reduce costs.

Businesses rely on uninterrupted data flow and effective communication across a complex technology ecosystem of disparate applications. Dissonance between these systems leads to missed opportunities, inefficiencies and financial loss.

Application integration eliminates these siloes by ensuring that all systems draw from and update a common data repository. This ensures consistency and accuracy, eliminating duplicate entries and boosting data quality to fuel better decision-making. For example, an isolated system may miss a change to a customer’s address, resulting in inaccurate communication and delays in processing orders. An integrated system will synchronize these data changes automatically, preventing errors and streamlining workflows.

There are various application integration models, depending on the complexity of the IT infrastructure and the business’s needs. A simple point-to-point integration involves creating a connection between two applications, and it’s useful for a limited number of use cases. For a more complex IT environment, you’ll want to opt for a hub-and-spoke or enterprise service bus model that utilizes middleware and APIs to transform and route data between different applications.

Regardless of the model, it’s critical to document the integration process thoroughly. This includes outlining the goals, methods and physical architecture of how systems will connect. This helps technical and non-technical stakeholders understand how the integration process works, promoting transparency and smooth operations moving forward.