Original post by JonathanKempel | | Visits (6156)
Had you told me back in 2001 that I will someday be buying tomatoes with my phone, I would have asked my doctor for your prescription. 14 years and 3 companies later, and guess what?! I’m one of those people who buys EVERYTHING online; from fresh produce to plain white-T’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’ve always been an early adopter of cutting edge consumer technology. Anything that promises to shave a few seconds off of my schedule or reduce the trips I make from couch to kitchen. Heck, I recently turned my old phone into a media station remote control just to spare me from reaching for the keyboard. This technophilia is exactly what led me through an interesting career. I had the privilege to witness and participate in three of the most prominent waves to hit the shores of information technology. I’ve started my romance with enterprise IT in the early 2000’s, when Tom Davenport was preaching the value of Business Intelligence and companies awed at the speed of which Netezza was turning data into insight. Like many others I took a short detour, got an MBA under my belt, and found myself in early 2010, at the onset of the mobile revolution, joining Worklight, an application development platform that promised to revolutionize the mobile enterprise (and cover my student loan). 4 years, one acquisition, and several white hairs later and cue the world of enterprise integration and cloud technologies. For the first time in my career, I started seeing the dots connecting and the bigger picture taking shape.

It usually happens when I engage in some primitive activity that requires more than just my thumbs to complete (which is already annoying), or when I spend an obscene amount of seconds waiting for something that should have happened by now. Some companies still don’t get it; we are no longer in the business of second chances. Brand loyalty for us consumers is a unit measured in weeks, not years. What you call customer relationship is something we are only willing to engage in if it serves our exact, unique, custom tailored and very immediate needs. It boils down to Systems of Engagement you see, or customer engagement to be exact. As someone who works 80 hours a week, I do my best to be as efficient as possible when I’m not working. This includes purchasing new gadgets, downloading apps that let be in multiple places at the same time and, of course, choosing my vendors and service providers based on their ability to support my cause. And here’s the shocker; most companies are simply not there yet, and the reason, whether they realize it or not, is integration.

Systems of Engagement might be driven by the mobile revolution and Internet of Things, but to facilitate it one needs more than just a creative vision and a good UI. New engagement models have users demanding immediate response, 24/7 availability, a custom experience, and all consistently delivered at the push of a button over a 5 inch screen that goes in and out of coverage at the worst possible time. These technical requirements present not only new design challenges, but also new system dependencies, the likes of which traditional IT has never encountered before. Data – the currency of this day and age – now needs to travel in so many directions and formats that systems that never communicated before are now the fundamental infrastructure that can make it all happen. Artificial differentiations like app vs. data integration, on-premises vs. cloud based endpoints, transactional vs. batch data volumes, are not only a thing of the past, but also the chief culprits that hinder the magic from happening.

Integration, key to this process, has clearly transformed. As SaaS and PaaS adoption continue to sky rocket, and reusability of APIs runs wild in and out of organizations, lines of business are turning into full blown IT teams, accessing powerful resources in the cloud and bypassing archaic procurement processes. Be it a mobile developer working in the marketing group, an HR web developer leveraging a SaaS solution, or a data scientist trying to pull together data from multiple sources to present in the next quarterly management meeting, they all have something in common. They all need some level of integration done as part of their goal, and they all lack the skills, experience and patience that traditional integration solutions require. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the days of a killer ESB are gone, or that B2B integration has lost its place in the enterprise. These powerful solutions are still very much relevant, and will likely continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Along with a powerful gateway solution and an ETL tool that can triple feed your real time Data Warehouse, these IT assets will continue to play mission critical roles within the operational fabric. What’s changed are the users and the use cases.

Integration is no longer the realm of geeky IT teams that control and govern each bit in the organization. Integration is now a tool for the masses. It is part of a bigger picture, not a goal in itself. When the data analyst pulls together records from Salesforce.com and some basement dwelling mainframe for this week’s report, he needs Integration. When the mobile developer builds a commerce app that pushes triggered custom promotions to a user who can then buy the product at a click of a button, she needs integration. And when that purchase synchs back to the finance, inventory and shipping systems, it does so with Integration. Regardless of project, company, or industry, Integration today plays a role in almost every development initiative, and the sooner organizations realize that, the faster they can start deriving value from all the wonderful new technologies out there. Sounds simple right? Not so fast. One thing is still missing – a new approach to Integration. A new solution that rethinks Integration and breaks down the artificial silos of traditional products.

Got you thinking? Good. Visit back for my next post.

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