Evolving into cloud services, integrations become more valuable and manageable

When was the last time that you heard somebody question the value of systems integrations? If your answer is ‘never’, you’re probably in the vast majority.

This is really too bad. Most of us are so used to thinking that integrating systems and letting information flow from one to the other is a good thing that we never wonder what else one could accomplish with integrations.

In the software tradition that many of today’s working professionals are familiar with, integrations of large and complex systems are generally custom-built by technical experts who know both of the technologies that need to be connected. Other than voicing a request and living with the outcome, businesspeople are usually not involved.

Greater simplicity and easier integrations in the cloud

Two IT trends help us see integrations in a different light. One is the move to cloud computing, a widespread and still growing practice. With the move to the cloud, the benefit of deploying maintaining huge, all-in-one ERP and comparable systems is not a given, because you can use a more gradual, less disruptive approach. That’s the second trend: You think about teams and processes you need to support as discrete workloads served by solutions. Instead of a giant software monolith, you focus on business areas such as production, sales, human resources, or the warehouse. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is an example of this simplified architecture, where you can deploy one workload at a time.

Intelligent integrations drive processes

In the cloud’s open architectures, it’s much easier than on-premise to create integrations between different solutions and business activities that can become more wide-reaching and versatile than simply allowing you to see information. Intelligent integrations would transfer the data, but also trigger the next appropriate action. For instance, a new employee record in the HR system would result in a provisioning and access request to IT, but also automatically grant those access rights that everybody in the company needs. Or, an order in the e-commerce system results in an invoice in the finance module of the ERP system, along with an approval request to the right person, as well as a fulfillment request for the warehouse team.

When integrations drive action, they can help companies simplify and transform the way they do business. They become even more valuable when they are also configurable, so that businesspeople without an extensive technical expertise can create and implement them. This, too, is much easier to accomplish in the cloud, and you can find many good examples for it.

Standard, shareable integrations as cloud services

We have for years enabled standardized, easily configurable on-premise integrations with our Connectivity Studio. Now that the solution is cloud-ready and proven effective in a Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment, we can evolve it further to take advantage of the cloud. Standard integrations and data migrations will become far easier to share and repurpose in the cloud.

In the next step, we are going to provide integrations and data migrations as cloud-based services based on standard templates. For instance, instead of purchasing and deploying an integration between your ERP and PLM systems, you might access this as a cloud service, activating it within minutes and paying for your use. You provide the integration service with details about your systems and data volumes to receive a cost estimate. The service loads the data and metadata models, implements the integration, validates the outcome, and notifies you when it’s ready. Similarly, in data migrations, the cloud resource will perform the mapping after you have uploaded or opened a path to your data files. You make your payment, confirm that the tool should move ahead, and it runs the migration. We already know that we can make this work for your transactional and historical data as well as for your setup, master, and open transaction data.

Integrations enable the digital future of your business

When integrations and data migrations become as affordable and efficient as using Office 365 or other popular resources in the cloud, businesses will use and benefit from them at a much greater scale than today. Common processes can become faster and more reliable. They will likely be a smaller burden for workers, and they can also be more flexible in response to the needs of your changing business. We anticipate both demand and increasing standardization of many integrations which companies will want. Our plans therefore include an integration webstore, where you will at some point find most of the integrations that matter in your business.

What opportunities do you see for integrations and data migrations to support your digital transformation? Let’s talk. Please send me a note at bkuijt@to-increase.com.