How to Better Integrate Your Systems Together
I recently talked to a veteran in the IT space who was very interested in our integration capabilities. It was apparent to him that there was a clear lack of integrations among larger organizations who began to accumulate a large number of disparate systems. He referenced a hospital that had over 100 systems, and only about 10 of them actually connected to any other system. Long story short, integrations are a major problem and inefficiency every company will face or faces today. Integrations are the key to unifying systems and eliminating manual data processes that could eat up huge costs via high labor costs.
So how does one go about better-integrating systems together? Here are some tips and ideas that could get your business into a better place when it comes to integrating your systems together.
Consolidate Your Systems. How many systems are you using? Do you need all of them? Is it possible to consolidate down to fewer systems so that you only have to integrate five systems rather than ten as an example? I often find that many companies are using more systems than they need because they got comfortable and haven’t taken the time to evaluate new systems or other systems that could allow them to consolidate. This is the first place you should start.
Invest in High-Quality Modern SaaS or PaaS applications with Good API’s. Modern SaaS applications are much more likely to have good API’s and integrations in place compared to old legacy systems. A good example of this is there are many more connectors for Quickbooks online than the old legacy desktop versions. Find high-quality SaaS or PaaS applications that can either replace legacy on-premise solutions or simply be used to fill a need.
Look for systems with large communities. Systems with large communities like Quickbooks, Microsoft Dynamics, Magento, Shopify, Salesforce, etc are much more likely to have either prebuilt connectors or experts who can integrate these systems at a lower cost than a more niche platform. Unless you really need a niche platform, I would focus on using platforms that are either up and coming and will have a big community or already have one.
Leverage pre-existing integrations. Many systems come with integrations built in such as Slack, Quickbooks online, and Shopify in which you can easily add apps and integrate other services without a lot of technical expertise. This is going to be the fastest and most cost-effective way to integrate your systems. A great place to start would be to look at the marketplace of the platforms you are using or want to use to see if they have connectors to each other.
Consider middleware solutions. Middleware solutions can bridge the gap between multiple systems, and in some cases serve as a central hub for connecting all your systems. There are many solutions to choose from like Celigo, Ebridge Connections, nChannel, Mulesoft, Jitterbit, and much more. This may be the best way to develop an infrastructure that connects a lot of systems to each other because it can be a bridge between many different variations in data types like CRM data, ERP data, eCommerce data, etc. I would carefully evaluate all the options in the space before choosing, there are many players in the space.
Invest in good developers. High-quality developers will develop innovative and thoughtful solutions in regards to integrating your different systems. In many cases, you may have to go the custom route or invest in a developer to create an integration. Choosing quality over price will end up paying dividends when it comes to an integration that lasts and is flexible to meet your needs.