Barriers to achieving seamless data integration are fast being broken down, thanks to a new wave of solutions. Previous limitations such as the size or nature of a device, its distance from the data source or even technical limitations of the user, are quickly being overcome as we enter a new age of digital enterprise.
While this is all very encouraging, it’s taken a while to get here. Integration has endured a momentous evolution, moving away from the old days of a quick fix solution in the form of point-to-point connections and processes residing exclusively on-premise.
Today’s enterprises are now challenged with combining multiple applications in complex environments driven by the cloud, alongside a push towards more collaborative ways of working. A challenge indeed, but this has actually helped to push integration up the agenda, making it a broader concern across the business and a critical component of any digital strategy.
While a desire to gain optimum value from the data remains, the goalposts have shifted, thanks in part to a deeper understanding that true integration simply cannot happen in isolation or in small pockets across a business. This deeper realization that every aspect of an operation - from people to processes and applications - must come together to create a seamless ecosystem is a concept increasingly known as the Spectrum of Integration.
The key to success in ensuring the seamless and efficient control of the data flow needed to garner optimal value, comes from adopting an entirely holistic approach to the practice. This approach should include the powerful combination of real-time insight, learning from the past, employing predictive analytics to inform the future, and then augmenting this data with both business intelligence and human insight. Such a powerful combination is a true ally of digital transformation.
Establishing this foundation has become a key requirement for a modern and agile business architecture able to innovate in order to meet ever growing customer expectations. Delivering ‘anytime, everywhere’ service also requires incorporating both social and mobile platforms within the hybrid cloud environment and widening the focus from the business core to the edge of the network, where up to 40% of IoT-created data will be stored, processed and analyzed by 2018.
Faced with an upsurge in IoT connectivity needs, businesses are moving data storage and processing to the most remote part of their networks, aiding agility and enhancing security by dramatically reducing the time that data spends moving across the network. Additionally, by making architecture choices more nuanced and by localizing elements and decision making, the edge opens up even more opportunity.
While opportunities are unearthed and users empowered, this potential comes with increased complexity, resulting in a certain amount of trepidation. According to a recent Gartner survey, for 43% of respondents, integration represents one of their top three technical challenges when it comes to progressing IoT initiatives. And for many, the costs cannot be ignored. By 2018, 50% of the costs associated with implementing IoT projects will be allocated to solving integration concerns as organizations are all too aware of the need to address the issues of connectivity, latency, and security.
With technological advancements such as artificial intelligence or blockchain being added to the mix, complexity is once again increased. Keeping everything interconnected against such a complex backdrop requires a flexible, tailored hybrid approach - no longer will a one size fits all approach suffice. This may have historically been adequate when dealing solely with data that resides within the firewall, but when faced with the challenge of handling real-time, API-driven and customized integration, a tailored hybrid approach becomes essential.
The most successful CIOs recognize that getting this right is crucial to the delivery of personalized and engaging digital experiences. By employing flexible insight platforms they can integrate the diverse technologies to manage and analyze data and then integrate the resulting insights into business action. Moreover, these can be utilized to develop solutions populated with enterprise-wide data and equipped with the necessary agility to guarantee continuous integration of new services or features.
Ease of access to these platforms is at the heart of a push for greater empowerment across the organization, providing a wider group of users with the right tools to enable them to make smarter decisions and to quickly react to new or changing requirements.
It is clear to see that the development of integration architecture has wide-reaching effects across an organization. It has not only evolved workplace culture but is also impacting ways of working by transitioning us from ridged siloed approaches to a more inclusive method that culminates in the true integration of people and process.