A well defined integration strategy is essential for any organisation tackling digital transformation. Even if we don’t see it as digital transformation, it is still the essence of valuing connected data, processes and systems in the organisation. It is much more than a strategic choice of a vendor technology, and for many organisations is increasingly becoming part of their competitive edge in their market.
An integration strategy is a framework for making decisions about integration and for selecting the right capabilities to address the organisation’s needs. Success in integration is about developing a capability, which for some organisations may legitimately mean procuring the capability as part of their integration strategy.
Benefits of an Integration Strategy
Gives the organisation a prioritised roadmap for development of capability and delivery of automation
Enables the organisation to make sound decisions about integration
Elevates the discipline and capability in the organisation
Allows the organisation to better plan other application/systems investments in the organisation
Enables the organisation to get to a point where it can leverage it competitively
How to develop an integration strategy
The work to develop an integration strategy starts with assessing your current capability, tooling and understanding what you need to align with the organisation’s strategy. We need to value the business processes and prioritise the needs for automation, connected systems and data across the organisation.
With data and integration so intrinsically entwined, it is difficult to be successful in integration without a strong data foundation. This means solid data models. Canonical data models or business object models are key to abstracting the physical data models of systems deployed from the way the organisation understands and refers to data or entities. That doesn’t necessarily mean embarking on a full blown data analysis and modelling exercise across an entire organisation. You can build and model data in an agile or iterative manner as long as you capture the data pertinent to the entire process being automated/integrated.
In order to understand the capability that needs to be established, it is common to break down the prioritised integration needs into one of three broad types of integration pattern:
- Data consistency – e.g. ensuring customer data in 3 different systems is the same
- Multistep process – e.g. implementing a business process like Quote-to-Cash across systems
- Composite services – e.g. a new application or services using data from multiple systems
This approach will help to categorise your functional needs in terms of technology capability.
Most larger organisations need more than one tool in their integration toolkit. Some technologies in the market lend themselves to rapid delivery of integration outcomes. Those same technologies often don’t look good at scale as a singular choice for an enterprise customer.
A diverse set of integration capabilities allows the organisation to effectively service a broader set of integration roles from integration specialist to citizen integrator and self-service integration. However, without a solid strategy and governance framework that same diverse set of capabilities can generate issues for an organisation.
Common Integration Strategy Mistakes
The most common mistake organisations make is the absence of an integration strategy. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a given integration initiative will not succeed, but it does mean that you are less likely to realise all the potential benefits, and over time your initiatives will become more costly and ineffective.
Other common mistakes
- Failing to understand the value to the business of the capability
- Thinking of product choice as strategy or that one tool fits the jobs
- Failing to enable more integrators in the organisation.
- Treating it as part of your application strategy
- Failing to establish a basis for valuing integration projects
- Not addressing the foundations for success
- Viewing integration as a point problem rather than a strategic opportunity
- Failing to apply governance to it or understanding what can be done by whom and when
In a connected world, where our customers and partners expect and rate organisations based on the connected experience they receive, an organisation’s integration capability is its core enabler to ‘connected’.
At Chakray, we help organisations of all sizes establish effective integration strategies. There are tech giants in the market today that can enter any market they choose to focus on. For them, ‘connected’ is table stakes. We believe our role in the market is to make it table stakes for everyone else.
You May Be Interested In…
Further information and reading on subjects related to this page.