“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”
— Inventor Dean Kamen
Since the turn of the century, technology has rolled out a vast number of procedures and processes intended to boost business productivity and revenues. And, sure enough, new and evolving dynamics such as digitized work processes, leaner employee populations, hybrid work models, and the increasing push for the automation of as-many-systems-as-possible has proven technology can serve the work sector amazingly well.
But in the midst of these various bursts of innovation and advancement, it can appear as if businesses are being stretched in every direction to keep up with the change improvement being realized across the business landscape. Granted, most new technological tools also create new momentum, but if they aren’t integrated across the enterprise operation that forward propulsion can sputter or even die out.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. A Systems Integrator is the perfect solution to staying current with the many changes in the technological winds without feeling as if your enterprise is being scattered to the four corners of the planet. He or she allows you to focus on customers and sales and not your tools and operating systems.
It should come as no surprise that the role of a Systems Integrator is to oversee and manage the ongoing process of ensuring disparate systems work in aligned flows instead of against each other. In other words, making sure that the various systems operating throughout a business work in coordination rather than autonomously. This is because no aspect of an enterprise’s operation is fully independent of its counterparts.
System integration can also entail designing and constructing custom architecture or applications, and then integrating new and existing technical elements into one functioning IT system. The end result of such efforts is the creation of a coordinated system utilizing multiple databases and data sources that are fully accessible by authorized parties.
An example of system integration working for the improvement and streamlining of company operations would be to consider three separate departments within many businesses: administration, data collection, and accounting. Through system integration, these three departments are not considered separate but rather related parts of a larger whole. When seen in this perspective, it becomes obvious that much data is constantly shared between departments; when this process is automated and functions seamlessly in the background, such connectivity delivers smoother operations and offers clear advantages through system integration, including:
• Effective Information Exchanges
• Enhanced Productivity
• Fewer Human Errors
• Improved Customer Relations
• Reduced Operating Costs
• Robust Basic System Operations
There are four main methodologies that can be applied when performing system integration; each approach fulfills different purposes, so a basic understanding of the types of system integration may aid in determining how best to proceed with your own system integration.
Every enterprise uses various software packages and different hardware equipment. Like unique fingerprints, no two businesses use precisely the same configuration. Due to this hard reality, application programming interfaces evolved to help define various interactions between the different applications and machines. API has the ability to define different data requests and determine how best to make them, what formats are needed for data output, and consequently transmit and translate data seamlessly across different devices and operating systems.
API is the most popular method for performing system integration thanks to its flexibility and wide availability. It has also proven the most reliable method for tapping into data and other information contained in third-party software without requiring additional permissions or authorizations. It is important to ascertain that your suppliers have established API protocols to allow you to access the information you need; also, because it is code-based, it can be programming intensive, but it will certainly get the job done.
One way around the intensive programming required by API is to consider webhooks. Also called HTTP callbacks, webhooks work with HTTP requests defined by users. For instance, certain events or actions can trigger webhooks, at which time users are notified of the action.
The beauty of this method is that it functions as an alarm, alerting you of actions you want to know about. So you determine which webhooks you need, and sit back and wait for notifications.
The obvious advantage is that you are not tasked with constantly monitoring important situations for infrequent events. Knowing that you will receive the needed “wake-up call” in a timely manner means you can focus your attention on more pressing matters and merely shift gears when an event notifies you of actions needed to be handled.
The biggest drawback to webhooks is you cannot easily customize the events but must instead depend upon third-party vendors to define events impacting your own business practices.
Another method that isn’t code-based but instead resides on servers to connect with local management tools is Integration Service Components (ISC). This works ideally with businesses accessing the cloud for their data while avoiding the hassle of importing huge data files; ISC is able to connect and integrate systems via cloud access, making functionality a breeze.
Perhaps the greatest challenge when working with ISC is the broad knowledge of both local servers and databases required, which are used intensively while setting up the ISC. It is also essential that companies gain back-end access to applications; without this authorization, it isn’t possible to use ISC for system integration.
For those operations dealing with multiple software and processes, orchestration is structured to oversee and consolidate duplicated processes to boost production and improve the flow of information to varying divisions and staff members. In its ultimate state, all software and processes are automated to work in unison and across various operating systems and devices, meaning every relevant worker has access to the information and processing power they need to perform at peak levels.
As is evident from the various tasks and skills demanded of a professional Systems Integrator, many enterprises look to consultants who understand and regularly work in this specialty.
Recognizing that most systems have grown vicariously over the years, leaving unusual combinations of new and older legacy systems with a pressing need to communicate effectively and accurately, working with a seasoned Systems Integrator allows you to fully realize the potential. An integrated and streamlined IT system must serve the needs of your business today and in the future. It may not feel comfortable to upend the status quo, but by migrating to a fully optimized system, your ROI for this simple investment is impressively realized in a short time. Through reduced expenses, minimized errors, and a fully empowered workforce, you will be able to focus on real business priorities instead of wrestling with technical snafus and incompatibilities.
To make the most of your system integration, look to the Systems Integrator professionals at OZ.
Murray consults with clients to create digital solutions that align with their vision, markets, customers and products. Prior to OZ, Murray co-founded Biztegra, a digital marketing, engagement and technology agency.
He also held senior positions at some of the world’s largest digital agencies, including Razorfish and Sapient, and began his career at what is now Accenture. An IASSC Certified Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt™, Murray earned his B.S./B.A. in computer science and finance from the University of Florida.
OZ is a consulting and technology solutions leader focused on increasing customer engagement & operational excellence by leveraging Intelligent Automation.