The near exponential growth in business applications, while initially praised, has companies realizing they have lost control of their data and business processes. Companies have unknowingly created information silos and are often left struggling to try and reconcile disparate data. Now more than ever, businesses are looking for ways to regain the collective benefit of these applications. While a system integrator is no stranger to this scenario, these projects are growing more complex, and they will need to embrace a new set of approaches and tools in order to overcome these obstacles. The most common issues facing today’s system integrators are:
Lack of Interoperability:The struggle to get individual systems to work together will grow as applications become more diverse. Applications are continuing to be built in a growing number of data formats and protocols, while legacy systems can remain overly rigid and prohibitive.
Unproven Implementations: As the application environment continues to evolve, projects will arise that have no proven implementation method. These projects will require tools with greater flexibility to accommodate unforeseen challenges and hurdles.
Capital Restrictions: While businesses often pay high prices for applications, they can have limited budgets for system integration. System integrators will want to focus on integration methods that allow for incremental adoption, allowing the business to grow with the system rather than forego essential functionality upfront in order to keep the project within scope.
Lack of Innovation: As complexities grow, system integrators will be tempted to revert to traditional approaches that will feel safe. Not only will this conventional thinking create integration solutions limited benefits, but system integrators who regress to this behavior will find themselves quickly left behind.
Insufficient Training: Post-deployment training is often overlooked and can prevent a business from taking full advantage of the benefits provided in a newly integrated system. It is important that system integrators user vendors that have both easy-to-use platforms and proven support teams for the end users.
With these growing obstacles, system integrators will find themselves dependent on the tools and integration platforms they choose more than ever before. It is vital to understand the options available, and the benefits of each vendor in connection with today’s challenges and trends.
In addition to these hurdles are trends in system integration that can provide worthwhile opportunities. IT System integrators will need to approach these opportunities carefully as they can provide as much complexity as they do value.
Mobile Platform Strategy: As mobile devices increase their time-share in our daily lives, we see their business use grow as well. Businesses now require increasingly flexible integration solutions that easily incorporate common mobile platforms into legacy application architecture.
Holistic Integration: System integration has commonly been limited to new or flexible applications with a disregard for legacy software or valuable on-site databases. While businesses may find themselves operating entirely in the cloud one day, most businesses today have an array of application types (e.g., SaaS, on-premises, databases) that all need to work together in order to provide real value. System integrators will start to place greater priority on integration platforms that cater to a variety of application types as this holistic approach becomes not only desired, but expected.
Social Technology as part of Infrastructure: Social platforms are now a key component in a variety of business departments, but have consistently operated as information silos, unable to share data with other areas of the business. System integrators will need to include social platforms as part of their overall system integration as businesses continue to embrace this growing trend.
Incorporation of App-based Internet: More than 5 years ago, Apple introduced iOS, the first popular App-based operating system, and it created a paradigm shift in both the consumer and business marketplace. Businesses are taking advantage of this new application model as iOS and Android grow in popularity throughout a number of industries. Enterprise applications that operate on these platforms will be need to be incorporated into the larger business architecture.
While these trends breed new opportunities, they also require a new level of innovation and tools that can overcome some of their inherent barriers. System integration professionals will need to find the right tools in order to take advantage of these developing trends.