Most businesses are losing time, money and business value through big gaps in their integrations.
Complex ecosystems of integrations are now commonplace in many organisations. They are often seen as a necessary means of synchronizing applications, services and teams. We see the most complex of integration setups in IT: connecting up ITSM and dev tools such as ServiceNow and Oracle, to enterprise tools such as Salesforce, SAP or Epicor.
As single applications, we usually have a fixed idea in mind of how much value can be created (and wasted) in the ways we use them. However, when we broaden out to looking at these applications within an integrated setting, this can be a much harder concept to think about.
Many CTO’s and IT leaders feel that implementing some form of centralised tool or iPaaS solution in the ‘centre’ of all their integrations will help them gain the visibility and control required to better understand where value is created or lost through integration. But in reality, most iPaaS implementations are not sophisticated or well-connected enough to deliver on this.
The alternative method is something much simpler than iPaaS, but it requires a greater understanding of what actual value there is to be lost or found in a high-functioning ecosystem of service integrations. At ONEiO, we call this solution a ‘Integration Hub’.
What are the blind spots in your integration ecosystem?
Time and money are slipping away in the gaps between your software, services and processes… but where, how and to what extent? This is going to be a particularly prominent issue for you, if you are using API-led or point-to-point integrations (which most iPaaS and software integration platforms do). The gaps and blind spots are found in the most direct and fragile areas of your integrations. This most often looks like a hand-coded API, where data/information only moves in one direction from one application to another. It is also going to be where your teams rely partly on an integration and partly on something manual… like a manual update, meeting, and file transfer to take place for something to happen.
An example of this could be updating access permissions on an application when someone changes their role in an organisation. If a ticket/request is created by one team from one application for the change to be made, but then it requires that information to be sent to another team, plus a second ticket to be created in another system by a second person/team… despite there being a working API connection between those two applications… value is being lost every time this transaction takes place!
This might seem small or simple, but when you go looking for more examples around your organisation of actions like this taking place, you’ll quickly find hours and hours of work being lost every week to manual activity. And, it is also often manual activity you have invested in automating through application integrations, but it’s just not happening.
These are your blind spots and you’re going to have plenty of them. They can be big and small, cheap and expensive, simple and complex. And if you, the IT leader, have invested in an iPaaS solution or similar, you need to prioritise reducing the value that’s getting lost in these areas. Otherwise, you are losing out on a major ROI from software and service integration.
Why is it important to get a grip of this?
CTO’s and IT leaders are not just judged by the value they create, but the loss of value they are able to prevent. Waste is everywhere in business and IT. The best businesses are the ones who have a pragmatic and effective approach to seeking out and eliminating waste.
At ONEiO, the reason we choose to focus our efforts on making service integrations quicker, simpler and cheaper is because growing businesses are built on great integrations. From people and processes to applications and infrastructure, the more connected and frictionless the ecosystem is, the more competitive and agile the organisation becomes.
When we see and support CTO’s through the process of stripping out iPaaS and/or API heavy integration solutions, and replace them with simple and centralised integration hubs, we quickly see a great impact in both the value created by the applications they use AND the people using them. This is because integration hubs don’t rely on one-way communication or and APIs. Instead, applications and processes communicate with each other in a single language, through a ‘many-to-many’ approach to connected up end-points and services. It not only improves the value you can create through each team and application, but enables you to find and eliminate waste in a highly effective and continuous way.
Getting started with improving your integrations
1. Fix the fragile areas first
As discussed in the examples above, look for the areas which break the most or are at risk of breaking most easily. Again, these are likely to be hand-coded integrations or connections that rely on a bit of manual intervention to make happen. These are the best places to begin, as fixing these integrations will give you the most immediate ROI in terms of people time and resource. Thus, allowing you to create and justify putting energy into higher impact, but... perhaps, more lengthy improvement projects.
2. Assess the business objectives you are trying to meet through integrations
At some point, IT promises the business some fantastic results in exchange for investing in your software ecosystem and integrations. But we can quickly lose sight of what the objectives and promises were at a business level, and just get stuck within the technology of it all. Because of this, it is important to check back in the business and with the goals you outlined before implementing your integrations and iPaaS solutions. This means you can re-align your integration activities and on-going improvements, with what is going to create the most business value. It also allows you to assess what level of waste is acceptable (or unacceptable!) in your business.
3. Look for quick opportunities to move integrations to the cloud
Moving integrations to the cloud is actually very simple. Old fashioned iPaaS or integration platforms might not lead you to believe this to be so, but with more modern tools you can do it quickly and easily. Not only that, but placing the management of your integrations in a cloud-based solution means you can gain much more flexibility and visibility over how they are working. With tools such as ONEiO, you can also move to subscription billing, which radically reduces the cost of running the integrations and removes setup risk too.
Focus on finding new opportunities for creating value and eliminating waste. As an IT leader, these two activities will always provide you with positive outcomes and help guide great decision making.
If you would like support with implementing any of the above concepts, get in touch with our team today, who will be glad to hear more about your integration ideas and objectives - contact us
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