Published on the 19/07/2017 | Written by Robert Merlicek
As digital technologies become all pervasive in the world of business, ensuring they are seamlessly linked is becoming increasingly important, argues Robert Merlicek...
When computers first appeared in workplaces during the 1980s, they tended to be solitary devices. Usually configured to run a single application or data store, little thought was given to connecting them with other systems.
Later, the shift to local area networks and client-server computing meant systems became interconnected. The rise of the internet allowed these connections to be extended further, greatly increasing the value that technology could deliver to business.
Fast forward to 2017 and the situation is very different once more. The emergence of digital networks and cloud platforms are allowing access to computing resources and data from almost anywhere. The days of single, monolithic, unconnected computers seems a distant novelty.
The growing importance of integration
As a result of this evolution, many businesses now face challenges when it comes to effectively integrating multiple applications and data sitting in a variety of different environments. They need to ensure staff have access to the resources they require, when they need it, wherever they are, but without compromising performance and security.
The goal of extracting maximum value from business IT systems and data cannot happen without a planned approach to integration. It can’t happen in pockets or in any kind of isolation, but must take place across the business. Every facet of an operation, from people to processes and applications, must fuse together in one seamless ecosystem.
It with an holistic approach to integration that it becomes possible to achieve the efficient control of data required by businesses today. Analytics tools can then be put to work to derive previously unattainable insights.
A foundation for business
Integration has therefore become a foundational prerequisite for modern business, and one that must continually evolve to meet growing customer expectations.
Delivering agile, ‘anytime, everywhere’ services means incorporating mobile and social platforms with a hybrid cloud environment, while simultaneously widening focus from the business core to the edge of the network. Indeed, this is becoming increasingly important with the emergence of new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Businesses will quickly realise what is required to create successful IoT projects. Pushing data storage and processing power to the most remote points of networks will enhance agility and security by slashing the time data spends travelling across networks.
Also, by making available architecture choices more nuanced, bringing together disparate standards, localising some analysis, and lowering operational costs, the network edge will unlock further opportunity.
However, as figures in a recent Gartner survey show, this potential comes with heightened complexity and justified apprehension. According to 43 percent of respondents, integration is one of their top three technical challenges when it comes to undertaking IoT projects.
Furthermore, by 2018, half the cost of implementing IoT solutions will be spent on integration in a bid to address concerns around latency, connectivity and security.
When you add technologies such as blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence to the mix, the challenge of keeping everything interconnected becomes even more complex. It will require a flexible, tailored and hybrid approach – the antithesis of the one-size-fit-all strategy that many businesses adopt.
Techniques that may have sufficed when dealing with data residing only within the corporate firewall will inevitably fall short when it comes to the challenge of handling real-time, API-driven, and customised integration.
Savvy CIOs recognise that getting this right is critical to the delivery of personalised and engaging digital experiences as part of their digital transformations. What is required is flexible insight platforms that can integrate technologies, manage and analyse data, and then provide insights to support business action.
The accessibility of such platforms sits at the heart of a growing push for organisation-wide empowerment, equipping all staff with the right tools so they have the means to make smart decisions and can react quickly to new opportunities.
The development of integration architectures is also changing business culture and ways of working. They are doing this by overcoming the siloed approaches of yesteryear and replacing them with a more inclusive approach where initiatives are no longer the sole preserve of technical experts, but are also driven by the business. This is what defines the true integration of people and technology.
Robert Merlicek is Chief Technology Officer APJ at TIBCO.