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View | How growing medium-sized enterprises can rationalise their integration strategy

View | How growing medium-sized enterprises can rationalise their integration strategy
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By CNBCTV18.com Contributor Oct 28, 2022 9:45:36 PM IST (Updated)

Modern medium-sized enterprises need to have solutions that connect multiple and disparate systems/applications securely and build workflows and journeys with an easy-to-use interface.

Globally, growing medium-sized enterprises (ME) are increasingly focusing on creating better and more delightful "customer experiences". Their flexibility in adopting newer solutions and constant innovation in their offerings lead to expanded business opportunities with end-to-end integrations through their digital transformation (DX) drives.

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To the uninitiated, the first challenge faced in this drive ss to figure out how to connect various systems and applications to each other.
The first step leads to multiple other follow-on challenges, which are:
  • Building new workflows and journeys for better customer experience
  • Finding the right technical resources who understand these components and technologies
  • Finding kind of infrastructure that is needed
  • Studies have shown that growing MEs typically use several systems and applications — numbering in the double digits — serving different business functions. It starts to become a daunting task for the leader driving the DX initiative to understand and account for these systems/apps to ensure data exchange happens seamlessly and securely.
    This approach should be flexible for any change in business approach or new addition of application. The scalability cost and change management capability play a key role in how well any DX change complements their future course.
    Diversified IT Ecosystem — The New Reality
    The IT and digital evolutionary journey of any growing ME typically involves choosing a judicious mix of systems and applications from:
    • Best-of-breed solutions
    • Local original equiment manufacturers (OEMs)
    • Solutions developed by in-house IT teams
    • This approach of mixing and matching disparate systems and applications with one or two backbone applications perhaps works well to a certain extent. With the advent of new-age applications created with leading edge technologies offered on cloud, one is tempted to adopt them quickly within their organisations.
      Extending the idea of a growing set of systems and applications used by MEs to connect with their supply chain participants, partners and vendors leads to the creation of a diversified IT ecosystem.
      Further, IT leadership is now looking at controlling capex costs on monolithic system licences and moving to monthly opex costs, towards adopting a more modular, composable system architecture, wherein any system or application can be integrated with existing ones quickly.
      To solve this problem, modern MEs need to have solutions that connect multiple and disparate systems/applications securely and build workflows and journeys with an easy-to-use interface. It should also have the framework and services in place to add the application of their choice quickly and securely. Even business users should be able to build such workflows easily.
      Rationalising the Integration Strategy
      The right integration strategy begins with a ‘build or buy’ decision for integrations. This choice could depend on:
      • Critical solution offerings which need to be kept in-house and operated in silos
      • Availability of resources and bandwidth for integrations
      • Prioritisation of integration work over other core business feature developments
      • Change management — testing and upgrading every time a sub-component changes
      • Manage development operations infrastructure to support and scale up the in-house integrations
      • Some teams do take a conscious decision to build, which comes with significant investment in cost and time, including the future maintenance of a system which can become very big, very rapidly.
        A decision to buy equipment can be based on:
        • Whether all compliances will be followed vis-à-vis security, privacy and data governance
        • If it offers a no-code user interface to build integrations and workflows in DIY (do it yourself) mode
        • Availability of ready integrations with a huge library of applications for their workflows
        • If its devops infrastructure is scalable as per business needs
        • Service to quickly add any new application to its library
        • Ability to work with both on-cloud and on-premise versions ?
        • Connectivity through APIs between their business ecosystem participants
        • This is where integration platforms can play a critical and central role by being an enabler to automate their business workflows flexibly and fast. The rapid “idea to market” possibility allows them to adapt to changing market conditions quickly with less upfront investment.
          Introduction to iPaaS
          Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) provides an easy, secure and scalable way for MEs to connect disparate systems and applications. This helps automate data flow between them with their own business logic. MEs offering niche solutions often have complex underlying workflows built with multiple applications and data sets that need to be integrated on-premise or on-cloud. Here, iPaaS can be very useful by making integrations efficient and cost effective. Moreover, most iPaaS players offer workflow automation building capability that makes the process more efficient, reduces human error rates and significantly improves compliance around security, privacy and data governance.
          It is recommended that growing enterprises seriously consider adopting an iPaaS since it becomes their workhorse for integrations, which saves a lot of time and effort, to focus on their core business instead of solving integration issues.
          Final Takeaway
          Organisations are moving towards an on-cloud presence with composable architecture. Systems and applications are like Lego blocks to build workflows and journeys leading to better customer experiences or improved process efficiency. Selecting the right iPaaS becomes a critical component of integration strategy invested by the MEs on their growth journey.
          — The author, Ramnath Gopalakrishnan, is Director — Global Partnerships, at Quickwork, a no-code automation platform.
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