3 Integration Trends IT Needs to Pay Attention to in 2016

January 5, 2016
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Business-to-business (B2B) integration is one area of IT that has remained largely unchanged over the past 40 years. That is, tasks such as customer and partner onboarding and automated data exchange has fallen squarely on the shoulders of IT. However, that is changing, and changing fast. In our era of digital transformation, no aspect of IT is left unaffected and integration processes and technologies are no exception. As we head into 2016, here are three trends that need to be top-of-mind for CIOs.

Business-to-business (B2B) integration is one area of IT that has remained largely unchanged over the past 40 years. That is, tasks such as customer and partner onboarding and automated data exchange has fallen squarely on the shoulders of IT. However, that is changing, and changing fast. In our era of digital transformation, no aspect of IT is left unaffected and integration processes and technologies are no exception. As we head into 2016, here are three trends that need to be top-of-mind for CIOs.

1. The Move Toward Hybrid Integration Platforms.

Today’s business landscape is evolving. Organizations must contend with varying requirements when dealing with different partners with differing levels of technical expertise. As a result, there is no one particular integration technology that is the answer. Organizations need to consider implementing a hybrid integration platform that can address all of their partners’ needs.

The hybrid integration platform is an integrated combination of a number of different integration methods, including: on-premises application and data integration platforms, information platform-as-a-service (iPaas) platforms, information software-as-a-service platforms, and API management, while also enabling self-service provisioning for business users.

This hybrid approach to integration supports the full spectrum of application, data and process integration.

2. The Changing Business Use Case for APIs.

Rather than buying into a monolithic API strategy, begin by publishing only a few as you begin to understand some of the limitations of leveraging APIs for data integration. To start, many times APIs don’t work well for B2B integration tasks because it’s really just shifting the heavy lifting to the customer. In addition, for both organizations involved in the data transfer, APIs still require coding and still require the need for back-end integration—it’s not as simple as “just connecting to the API,” as is often the perception.

Another challenge is that your organization is not the only organization to have invested time and money in developing an API, only to find that most companies want their partners to connect to them using their API, often resulting in a case of, “I won’t use your API, you have to use mine.”

API’s have their place but when dealing with customers and partners, it’s especially important to evaluate if this is a strategic use of resources for your organization.

3. The New Approach to IT.

Gartner defines a bimodal approach to integration as “the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of integration delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility. Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasizing agility and speed.”

While the above definition refers specifically to integration, the takeaway can really be applied across to the board in the way that an organization approaches IT. In a business climate where organizations are under constant pressure to yield more value using less resources, operational speed is paramount. However, that doesn’t mean the traditional approach to IT practices, emphasizing protocol and security, can fall by the wayside.

It’s critical that organizations have the ability to seamlessly shift between Mode 1, when accuracy and safety are important and the impact of failure is high, and Mode 2, when speed is important and risk is high, but the negative impact of failure is low.

One thing CIOs can count on in the coming year is that the business landscape and integration environment will become increasingly complex. The most important trait an organization’s IT department can have in order to be successful in 2016 is the ability to adapt. By laying a solid foundation ahead of time, CIOs can rest assured their teams will be able to respond efficiently, accurately, and quickly to changing business needs.