Integration is Challenging from an Organizational Perspective
In many organizations, integration requires a specialized skillset often the domain of a specialized team. It doesn’t fit neatly into many traditional IT departments such as infrastructure, desktop, or application development. The integration team is responsible for connecting applications, data, and business partners, utilizing tools that are unique to solving integration challenges. Many larger organizations have built out integration centers of excellence (CoE) to provide this specialized capability. This includes both the development of integrations as well as the operation.
In larger organizations, these CoE teams are staffed with individuals with skills in integrating applications using technologies such as SOAP and REST, specialists in data mapping tools to translate between complex data formats such as EDI and XML schemas, and others with deep knowledge of the source and destination applications. Additionally, operations teams with knowledge of applications, data formats, and data protocols exist to ensure all integrations are operating correctly and to quickly troubleshoot problems.
Integration is Frequently the Technology Embodiment of Business Processes
Organizations have modernized IT systems and have adopted systems that enable various functional teams within the business, but business processes touch many functional teams. For example, an incoming order flows through sales to fulfillment to accounts receivable teams. In the parallel IT universe, this same business process flows from a customer management system to a warehouse management system to a financial accounting system. All these systems are connected through integrations.
These flows become very complex when partner and customer systems become part of the business process. If in our earlier example the order comes in electronically from a partner, this is yet another integration and it involves interfacing with a customer’s system that is generating the order.
Larger organizations can justify the integration CoE and recruit talent to staff a team. For small to mid-size organizations, it is difficult to justify the expense of a CoE, and often even if financially justified, it’s very difficult to recruit and retain talent for an integration team.