Winning Integration Strategies to fuel Digital Business

April 13, 2018

We live in an age where data and technology are dominating industries, creating new market winners while crippling the old guard. The rise of cloud-first and data-first companies like Facebook, Netflix, and others are forcing enterprises to implement digital transformation strategies that allow organizations to compete effectively by tapping into the power of big data and leveraging modern best-of-breed technologies to fuel new innovations.

Read also The 6 types of digital strategy

The challenge for IT lies in the myriad of existing applications and systems that need to not only communicate and share data and insights, but that already connect together in a technology infrastructures that is closed and monolithic in itself. Any of this data to support digital transformation is required for innovation and innovation requires access via APIs, and APIs require security and management. The data and applications yes are now often traversing both cloud and on-premises environments. Different integration disciplines are a part of this, it’s not just traditional application integration, there is emerging SaaS integration use cases, and there is B2B, traditional EDI, Managed File Transfer and more. Meanwhile emerging digital integrators bring new integration disciplines for Mobile Integration, IOT integration and more – all demanding access to this data, speed and agility. With this variety of disciplines there are an array of personas involved in integration – the emerging digital integrator building new experiences, the EDI administrator managing trading partner connectivity, there is the enterprise architect overseeing enterprise application integration and lines of business getting involved to quickly implement SaaS projects and more. Integrators vary in technical proficiency and range from developer, to architect to business analyst. Further hamstringing IT organizations are legacy technologies and integration methods that are complex, siloed and don’t enable engagement across the organization. For an organization to be successful in digital transformation, they need to embrace, open and manage their entire IT ecosystem without creating risk for the organization.

The Rise Of Hybrid Integration

Although their perspectives vary to a certain degree, Industry pundits agree that this can be accomplished by taking a hybrid approach to integrating the various key applications, systems and tools across the enterprise. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 75% of integration platforms will implement a hybrid integration platform. And other experts state that a growing number of CIOs are clearly privy to the limitations of their legacy systems and infrastructure and are increasingly on board with adopting a hybrid integration strategy that will not only improve operational efficiencies, but boost performance and business agility. The question is whether these CIOs actually understand what hybrid integration encompasses. With so much hype around hybrid clouds, there is a lot of confusion in the market as to what hybrid integration really means.

At Axway, we believe in developing an integration strategy that focuses on optimizing engagement to fuel the building of new experiences. And the key to this is to embrace your ecosystem and with an API strategy that focuses on opening up APIs to enable more seamless collaboration and access to key data and systems. Whether you are transferring files across a network via MFT or integrating various applications for big data analytics, it’s important to never do so in isolation as data in these channels as well as the channels themselves can be a vital part of innovation. The following are best practices and recommendations that will put you on the path to success:

Become an Enabler of Experience Economy

As companies move towards an open API Management approach, it’s critical for IT to take a leading role in that effort. Gone are the days of IT simply acting as a support organization that reacts to integration requests. IT must become an active enabler towards integration from different parts of the organization - becoming a strategic driver of the business and also, securing and managing APIs for consumption and innovation.

Take a Holistic Approach

When developing integration strategies, it’s important to be able to take a step back and understand what the overall business goals are, where challenges lie, and how varios integration disciplines coupled with APIs will get you there. For example, some industries have stringent regulatory requirements which adds immense complexity. When you take a top-down approach to integration, it gives you the ability to see what is needed to ensure optimal engagement and most importantly better align with your business and engineering partners alike.

Know Your Audience

When IT tackles an integration project, it is critical for the organization to effectively serve different integration consumers. Whether you’re designing APIs for developers to access big data to build engaging mobile applications, the Line of Business (LOB) to ensure secure and efficient Managed File Transfer flows, or enabling digital integrators to lead a digital transformation effort, it’s important to understand the needs of these consumers and how best to foster an environment that drives collaboration and innovation.

Deploy Anywhere

When it comes to deployment options for an API management system, there are various factors that come into play. Some organizations have extreme security and compliance standards and will require an on-premises infrastructure, whereas cloud-first companies are comfortable with the public cloud and thirst for the accelerated time to market that comes with it. There are also data residency requirements for global organizations. The good news is you don’t have to pick one way or the other. Taking a hybrid approach to integration — where some of your functionality runs in the cloud and some runs on-premise with common corproate governance — provides you the best of both worlds. You get the benefits of a cloud infrastructure, but with the necessary controls that come with an on-premises setup. Best of all, taking a hybrid approach gives you the opportunity manage both in a single, interconnected environment.

Run as a Shared Service

IT can no longer just be ticket takers. They must enable others to integrate and support lines of business with self-service across an array of integration disciplines. In order to keep up with the competition, IT organizations must be agile and adaptive to the changing needs of their consumers ranging from the need to satisfy existing legacy processes to supporting new consumption models via APIs that require flexibility and openness and all this must be done with corporate governance. Running your integration strategy as a shared service will ultimately allow you to better serve your diverse set of consumers — both internal and external — which in turn will ensure a more seamlessly integrated ecosystem that helps you innovate faster and engage better.

In order to unlock new digital experiences, enterprises must take a deeper look at their integration strategy and how it can best serve their various consumers through better, smarter engagement. With so much inherent complexity across various personas and stakeholders, domains, endpoints, and both new and old infrastructure — taking a hybrid approach to integration management allows IT organizations to become the heroes of their companies by creating a flexible and responsive environment that connects individuals, systems, businesses, and ecosystems as peers with the goal of delivering transformative business outcomes.

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