2018 for CIOs brings pressure to deliver digital transformation. This means that speeding up, scaling and distributing integration capabilities across organizations is the poster child of evolving job descriptions, the “new black”. You don't have to look for to see why this is the case but for the record:
- Components are shifting to the cloud. In many cases integration features are embedded.
- Lines of business (LOBs) are often also IT budget holders marginalising the traditional model where central IT is responsible for delivery.
- Though integration are now central, counter intuitively integration skills have become dispersed within organizations. Thus, many struggle to manage APIs across the breadth of evolved porfolios and infrastructures.
- What the leading analyst firm Gartner calls "citizen integrators" are here often using self-service tools. The result is that rather than coherently enabling digital business, integration has become an obstacle to success because traditional, centralized and systematic integration approaches cannot cope with the volume and pace of business innovation.
The answer to best practice in this muddled reality? In our view, organizations have to urgently develop integration capabilities across their businessines. The immediate challenge is to determine what this will look like.
Clearly, the integration platform or technology the present market demands has to deliver alignment to business initiatives such as improved customer experience or improved ecosystem participation that was not the case before. Yet with IT delivery responsibility as we have seen increasingly fragmented, will this be possible? Experience tells us that big organisations only move on from the past with reluctance.
We can hope or even expect that the proliferation of APIs, 5G mobile, the Internet of Things (IoT), the increase of event-driven architecture and the need to monetize legacy IT applications will spur the shift but as each of the above has its own approaches to integration interfaces and demand different integration architectures the course integration strategies is unlikely to be smooth. What then to do?
While we’ll dig into those and other questions in a series of blogs over the next few weeks, here are a few foundational things to consider.
- With the importance of integration questions is coming to the fore, the question of what integration actually represents is less clear. It is just provides communication capabilities between components? Or is it becoming something greater, where integration must aggregate and combine multiple data types from multiple sources to help create new insight. It’s almost certainly the latter.
- Is centralised integration a thing of the past and if there’s no going back, how should organisations best empower distributed rather than centralized integration capabilities? Getting the answer to this question right can mean dramatically improving productivity.
- The traditional data center model is receding and cloud is an increasingly common reality. Integration platforms are central to both the transition and the new reality. The implications for integration technology are multiple.
- Hybrid Integration Platform platforms- mechanisms aligned to business need rather than technology priorities have arrived. But what are these, where do you find them, and how do you implement one. DigitalRoute has been positioned as central to answering this question since almost before it was asked!
And then there is question of interation and intelligence. Machine Learning and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can facilitate new ways to address complex integration problems in areas like engagement, automation, and insight.
The role of integration technology represents an area of signiciant innovation, evolution, and opportunity for the telco at the start of 2018. It raises question that have to be answered. As noted earlier, over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at how in considerably more detail in this series of blogs.
Keith Brody is head of communications and product marketing at DigitalRoute