How much attention do you pay to your integration strategy? Probably not enough. Most organizations today still take the legacy approach to integrations, but things are different in the cloud. In today’s enterprise landscape, it’s not only common to have far more applications at play, but there’s also a lot more movement of data between these systems compared to the environment of 10+ years ago.
Additionally, your integration strategy is so closely intertwined with your security strategy, that how you approach integrations can not only impact how you approach security, but it can also make the job of outlining your security framework easier.
With that said, what do you need to keep in mind as you develop your cloud integration strategy? Here’s my top advice:
ADOPT A BUSINESS-CENTRIC APPROACH
To start, you need to think about your integrations from more than just the data perspective. If you only think about integrations as a way to pass data, then you’ll likely end up with multiple, redundant point-to-point integrations. On the other hand, if you think about the business processes that your integrations need to support, you can likely simplify your requirements.
EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF DATA QUALITY
Data quality is critical for creating meaningful information, and having poor data quality will ultimately lead to even poorer decisions. This effect can have even broader implications when you exchange poor quality data between applications, for example CRM and ERP. Hence, it should all start with DATA. Having a well defined and structured enterprise data governance is as important, if not more important, as having a robust enterprise integration platform.
Building on the idea of letting business processes guide your integrations as outlined in step one, you also need to think about how your entire enterprise will consume the data in question and how it will pass between any given number of systems to satisfy everyone’s requirements.
CONSIDER EXTERNAL REQUIREMENTS
Although you should always consider internal requirements first, external requirements are also an important part of a comprehensive integration strategy. For example, you need to consider factors like business growth and future M&A activities that might be down the line so that you can make your integrations as flexible as they need to be. In general, you should aim for highly modularized, loosely-coupled integrations.
ESTABLISH A WELL-DEFINED GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE
Finally, you need to determine how you will govern your integration strategy long term, including how you will monitor and manage integrations, triage any issues, etc. The key to successful governance is to make your approach more business-driven than IT-driven in order to empower users to identify issues on their own without bogging down IT. Introducing an ITSM solution can help here.
GIVE INTEGRATION THE ATTENTION IT DESERVES
Today’s technology environment operates in such a way that integration and security go hand-in-hand, meaning that a world-class security strategy is nothing without an integration strategy to match. Consider this: Your CRM and ERP systems are each secure, but what happens when the two pass information back and forth? If you don’t govern this integration appropriately, your data is still at risk. Therefore, as we move deeper into the cloud era, it’s important that we give integration strategies the attention they deserve.