How do you determine your digital maturity? Look at how integrated your business is.
According to an MIT and Deloitte’s study, less mature digital enterprises remain in a siloed environment because they are “focused on solving discrete business problems with individual digital technologies.” More mature digital businesses, on the other hand, are highly integrated and innovative. They are focused on amalgamating digital technologies (mobile, social, cloud, and analytics) to transform their overall business and operating model.
Maturing digital businesses go beyond integrating physical enterprise applications. They also unify online and offline experiences, totally blurring the line that separates the two. They also understand the importance of integrating all types of data into operations and decisions. They are focused on building networks that allow people, devices, and objects to work in harmony. All this is possible only if the right integration technology is in place.
Forrester, in its influential report on integration platforms, Now Tech: iPaaS and Hybrid Integration Platforms, Q3 2018, suggests that businesses should “consider investment in integration platforms as strategic.” According to the report, “Investment in iPaaS or hybrid integration platforms is becoming more strategic than ever. It’s no longer a problem of scalability and credibility of capabilities — it’s a question of making the right investment to support enterprises’ business digital transformation with the right amount of agility and the right partnerships for the ongoing evolution of digital products and services.”
But with various integration technologies vying for attention, it can be hard for your organization to pinpoint which best fits your business. Forrester divided the various current integration platform offerings into three categories, which can help you determine what can work best for your organization:
iPaaS for dynamic integration.
- This segment provides the main capabilities for integration in a single offering, mainly via cloud delivery.
- This segment solves more complex integration scenarios than the previous category and includes some B2B integration, IoT integration, and connectors to on-premises applications.
Hybrid Integration Platform.
- This category represents the mandatory integration solution for large enterprises renewing their strategic integration architecture as a complement to API management, B2B integration, and IoT integration.
To carefully evaluate which among the current integration platform technologies will best help your company move toward digital maturity, consider these three key elements in your industry’s value web:
- Your enterprise: What are your business and digital transformation goals?
- Your customers: What are the recent and future trends that are impacting the Buyer Journey?
- Your partner ecosystem: How will you keep your organization in sync with your partners?
In short, before you invest in an integration platform you should first know the current and future needs of your enterprise, your customers, as well as your partners. Only by so doing will you be able to determine your current and future integration needs. And then ask:
Which integration technology can support your current and future integration needs?
The need for scalability. As your business digitally matures, you will incorporate more and more applications into your infrastructure and workflow, weave different experiences, onboard new suppliers and partners, and engage more and more customers. As a result, you will be swamped with a greater volume of data than you ever expected.
Which integration technology can help you do more than just hook up various applications, grow with your business, and offer more integration capabilities and opportunities? Will you opt for a simple, low-code integration technology but require bolt-on fixes as you move forward in your digital transformation journey?
The need for the right talent.
- Industry analysts cite that during digital transformation, integration work accounts for 50% of time and cost. This can be a major setback particularly if you have scarce resources. Opting for an integration solution that offers self-service, do-it-yourself (DIY) and low-code capabilities can save your company from building an in-house integration team and rather empower business users to become citizen integrators. But, more complex and more sophisticated integration works such as those that require marrying conflicting workflows and infrastructures need deep expertise.
The need for a truly seamless data flow.
- Data sits virtually everywhere –– in and out of your firewall. To make true data-driven decisions, you should enable a mechanism that can allow you to seamlessly ingest data from all sources. Aside from this, the “sharing economy” ushered in an era where data can be monetized through data-as-a-service. Your integration efforts should result in a truly seamless flow of data where every data consumer in your ecosystem can access and ingest it whenever, wherever. Only by so doing can you make the most of data.
The need for stringent data security and privacy compliance.
- More than ever, data security and privacy and data regulatory compliance are primary business concern. According to the same MIT and Deloitte study, almost a third of maturing digital businesses cited security as one of the top barriers to digital transformation. Data compliance is another main pain point in that existing regulations and standards are being constantly amended and new provisions are being rolled out to address current data processing and related concerns. Ensuring compliance with these new regulations across all your IT systems and processes, and each time you add a new business process or data source, is a challenge. Utilizing integration solutions that enable DIY integration throughout the company can also open up new compliance and governance concerns.
Which integration technology can flex with you as you become more digitally mature?
Businesses (particularly less mature digital enterprises) have a tendency to base their technology selection on their immediate transformation needs. They do this to save on costs when they kick-off their digital transformation project (even without having a clear strategy yet). As a result, they buy into advanced integration platform technologies that are just incarnations of their legacy integration solutions. And as they move forward in their digital transformation journey, they eventually realize that their integration platform technology itself is hindering them from becoming fully digital.
This is why it is also important to assess if the integration platform technology can offer more sustainable capabilities and withstand the ever-changing data climate. Consider also how the solution vendor will guide your organization throughout its entire DX journey. Will they offer you more than just technology and deployment tools? Can they accommodate even the most sophisticated and complex integration works, allowing you to redirect your scarce resources into other value-adding tasks?
To become fully digital and digitally mature, your organization needs to be fully integrated. It is crucial to select the integration platform technology that caters to your integration needs in the most sustainable and future-proof manner.
Download the complete Forrester Now Tech: iPaaS and Hybrid Integration Platforms, Q3 2018 report to learn more.