Connect your systems and take control of your data
Integration is all about taking control of your data. When you connect your systems and applications it opens up new ways to automate and improve your business processes. If you manage to take advantage of the potential in integration, you will become a more agile and profitable company.
At iCore, we have developed integration solutions for companies and organizations in pretty much every industry. In our experience, the key to successful integration lies mainly in two components:
- A well-established integration framework, broadly supported throughout the organization. The framework contains important components such as integration strategy, guidelines and role definitions.
- A capable and versatile integration platform which gives you full control of your data and business flows.
Why do you need an integration framework?
The purpose of the integration framework is to clearly describe how the company uses integration to reach its business goals, as well as define the boundaries for current and future projects. Without a framework, you might end up with a large number of inconsistent, low-quality solutions that do not work well together.
When we work with customers to establish an integration strategy, we usually start out from the following basic principles:
- Allow for gradual “ad-hoc” implementation of integration solutions. It should be possible to start in a small scale and expand the solution over time. Don’t try to do everything at once!
- Promote the development of a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), with “loosely-coupled” components.
- Create a flexible infrastructure where the information flows can be adapted to the current business demands. No company should have to give up business opportunities because of rigid systems and applications.
- Data should only have to be entered once. You should never have to enter the same data in two places. Data is always edited exclusively in the source system, and should be made available to all services or functions that needs it.
The guidelines should describe how your solutions are documented, how changes are handled, which naming conventions to use etc.
The Integration Competence Center (ICC) is made up of internal as well as external (e.g. iCore consultants) key people, responsible for implementing the integration strategy, maintaining and monitoring existing solutions and developing new solutions in line with the integration strategy and business goals. Having an ICC in place is a basic condition for performing regular evaluations of the “integration environment” at the company, avoiding technical debt and making sure that existing integration components are re-used in an optimal way.
Choose the right platform
Your integration platform should be able to support all the requirements outlined in your integration strategy. The platform needs to provide:
- A technical architecture which facilitates implementation of SOA (see above). Implementing SOA allows a high level of reuse and minimizes the dependencies between systems.
- Powerful development tools that lets you develop solutions tailored to your business requirements.
- Excellent management and control features, all available in one place.
- A rich set of features for monitoring, track and trace, and alarms. If an error occurs, it has to be easy to find out exactly where and why it happened. When the error has been corrected, the processing should continue at the exact point where it was interrupted.
What you gain
When the development of integration solutions takes place in a dedicated product layer and follows SOA principles, it has several beneficial effects from a managerial perspective:
- You will have a data infrastructure that can be more easily adapted to your business goals. When you make changes to the solution, for example add systems or tools, it only affects the integration architecture locally.
- You will be able to get more out of your existing systems, and will not have to upgrade or replace them as frequently as before.
- You will have well-documented, standardized solutions that will not be in the hands of any one individual. The personal dependence is significantly reduced, as well as the administrative costs.