It is a huge fail to only consider the technology aspect when making any large-scale operational change like integration. And it’s all too common: a big project is approached solely from a technology, IT perspective without full adoption by the business users and ends up being taken for granted. There is a problematic disconnect when you hear, “Haven’t we been doing this already?” which is indicative of unclear communication and worse — complete lack of understanding of any new capabilities.
Why does this happen?
We forget that even technology initiatives like integration are always just as much about the people as the new tech. Ignoring buy-in from key people across the organization breeds resistance to change with people protecting their own interests.
Properly implemented integration gives an organization the ability to build on its skills, to expose information from systems to accelerate processes and leverage events for better operational efficiency that are lost if not used correctly. With the people disconnected from the capabilities of the new tech, this investment is wasted in favor of more of the same. We often hear about skilled engineers who return to their old habits when push comes to shove.
When people start thinking in terms of modifying their application, or reductions to the budget, they are stuck in the old paradigm and not thinking about integration’s reduced costs, easier upgrades, and the re-allocation of resources on value-added work to the application. What they don’t see is the ability to quickly propose new services to customers. They won’t readily realize they can, for example, now adopt new cloud-based systems to lower overall costs and transform their business even more.
How to successfully integrate the people with the tech
By founding an Integration Center of Competence (ICC), organizations create their own integration franchise, independent of technical choices. The ICC becomes a business partner that takes the burden of integration out of applications and projects, and commits to a quality of service. Quality of service translates to shorter projects, sustained latency, and increased performance of integration. But, how can you create a foundation that supports more effective and efficient operations?
- Eliminate interpretation and assumptions: Business, IT and the ICC should always be in close sync by working along the same process with access to the same information. A central system of record supports the whole lifecycle process, from business demand to the retirement of service while ensuring compliance and tracking authorization along the way. This will also allow all stakeholders to be constantly informed of progress and assess the value they yield from integration.
- Learn from your experiences, stick to your decisions: The ICC should define best practices based on a sound strategy that requires people to identify and define how new solutions will deliver on current and future business requirements. This will contribute to a reduction in the integration projects duration and cost. Gartner’s Jess Thompson estimated these savings can be as high as 30% at Gartner’s last AADI in Las Vegas.
- Create a catalog of capabilities. Once equipped with best practices, the ICC can look for recurring integration needs. A common example is that companies standardize on one ERP deployed using a global template that provides compliance to organization-wide standard processes, and leave room for specific (business or local) needs. This same approach can be used for integration by providing a pattern to support standard communications with other corporate applications, and still communicate local initiatives. The ICC offers a catalog of capabilities that supports the deployment of a standard application, or leverages events to identify specific situations.
Having reached maturity, the ICC has a proven track record that eases the expansion of integration across the enterprise. Business and applications teams do not need to feel like guinea pigs or pay to implement an untested technology. They have a business partner to deliver proven capabilities that can be fine-tuned to comply with their needs. This efficiency and commitment is even more important since Gartner estimates that 50% of the cost of implementing system is spent on integration in their integration 2013 report.
For more on how to integrate your systems to leverage Big Data, check out this Gartner report: