A growing business sees increasing use of applications and services which are created at a different point in time using different languages, technologies, operating systems and configurations. Each one of these applications is supposed to have specific functionality and to cater to a particular purpose. The biggest challenge remains to connect all these through application integration for long-term success.
Application integration is easier said than done. An application has various complex instances of data models and relationships that need to be integrated with another application. Thus, an enterprise needs to do its due diligence before they start building integration solutions for their in-house applications. They need to carefully identify various factors such as business activities, integration requirements, integration costs and infrastructures to build a customized application integration solution.
This process works for point-to-point application integrations. For businesses, which have deployed multiple applications hosted in a hybrid environment (few on-premises and few on the cloud), it becomes cumbersome to manage integration solutions for all these applications, eventually creating a roadblock to their digital transformation journey. Hence, a specialized application integration comes to their rescue which can handle the complex integration scenarios.
Such application integration solutions help in seamlessly connecting disparate systems and applications; promoting cross-function enterprise collaboration and improving overall process efficiency.
One needs to carefully tread the path of successfully application integration solution in their enterprise. Here are the few best practices as what it takes to have a successful application integration at your disposal –
1. Pre-Built Application Connectors – An application integration is generally carried out through APIs (Application Programming Interface). An API is a bundle of rules and functions that lets a user interact with the parts of an application.
Web APIs are publicly exposed over the internet with the supporting documentation which can be used to make connectors for that application. These APIs are generally made in XML or JSON and can be easily accessed by the developers. This is what lays the foundation for an application integration solution.
The application of APIs is what enables the development of pre-built connectors for the applications (ERPs, CRMs, etc.) which can be deployed with a plug and play model. It saves times in comparison to creating in-house integration solutions and enhances an enterprise’ scalability. Now one can easily deploy new applications and quickly connect them with the existing ones.
2. Operational in a Hybrid Environment – In today’s digital age, more and more organizations are opting to go for cloud-native applications due to the advantages it offers such as license-based costing, easy maintenance and scalability. This creates a heterogeneous mix of on-premises and cloud applications within an enterprise.
The application integration solution should be able to connect the applications in a hybrid environment. In other words, it should bridge the gap between the on-premise legacy applications/ systems and Saas/iPaas/Paas. In a way it helps in bringing the best of both worlds together– the business intelligence and stability of long deployed legacy applications which have powered the business over the years and the modern benefits of (cloud-based) SaaS applications.
This directly impacts a business efficiency to grab new business opportunities and create a scalable eco-system to support digital transformation.
3. Unified View for Enterprise - Application integration permits the user of an enterprise to have a unified view of data from numerous sources. It combines data vested in disparate sources in different format/semantics into a single, unified view. The users deployed in various functions of an enterprise need to access data from the applications for business needs. With application integration, the unified view of data cuts down on the need for manually gathering data from each application and eliminates the need for writing code to build connectors for application access. Every piece of information is available in a centralized form which can be easily and quickly accessed by the departments.
Now, there is no need to separately logging in to the applications for accessing the data for further formatting or cleansing. This saves precious human hours which can be utilized for other key strategic tasks.
4. Enable the Digital Technologies – Application integration makes it possible to have real-time data flow between two disparate systems/applications. This helps in adopting the technology such as IoT, AI, ML etc. which are operating in big data space generating heaps of data every second.
The emergence of IoT has inundated the world with new devices which need to share data with the applications immediately for real-time insights and information. An application integration deals with data proliferation, sudden business requirements, customer needs and expectations resulting in an increased operational and business efficiency of an organization.
5. Eradicate Redundancy and Duplicate efforts – Along with letting the applications communicate with each other, application integration also helps in managing and maintaining all the applications up to date, thus eradicating data redundancy. The unified view provided by application integration provides a centralized view of all the available application connectors and reduces the time previously spent on rewriting the manual integration connectors.
Further, with application integration, you need to add data to an application only once which would be automatically dispersed to all the connected applications thus reducing manual human errors and inconsistencies.
Conclusion – Application integration is a key to embrace digital technologies at its full potential. The seamless flow of data with disparate systems is the foundation for today’s enterprise as it goes out in a world of frequently changing business needs and expectations. An application integration solution at its disposal prepares an enterprise to take on the customer expectations with utmost confidence and provides requisite expertise to scale up the business to grab with the business opportunities coming its way.