An Intro to Enterprise Application Integration
Nowadays, the average employee uses 9.4 applications to cover their daily tasks. Smaller businesses have an impressive average of 73 applications to handle, and larger businesses run an overwhelming average of 175 applications.
Which is (if you ask us) A LOT of data being produced and consumed. In fact, in 2020 people created around 1.7 MB of data every second. As systems become more distributed, a hybrid IT infrastructure (cloud and on-premise mixed) and Enterprise Application Integration are about to become the new standard — here’s why.
What is Enterprise Application Integration?
Integrating applications at scale and controlling the data flow are challenges every business faces nowadays. Enterprise Applications Integration (short EAI) is the process of helping software systems talk to each other.
In this insight, we will cover why Enterprise Applications Integration is important, what advantages and challenges come with it, how to go about it and where to start.
Why do I need to think about EAI?
Have you ever seen an employee printing some data from one software system only to manually add it to another? Sounds tedious, right? Yet scenarios like this happen all the time. Incorrect data, missing data, delayed updates. You name it.
If you’re still not sure what we mean, here is a typical example, which is a scenario we encounter at companies time and time again:
You have a CRM software where you store all of your company's customer data. Things like their name, address, and email.
You also have an invoicing software where you send those customers your invoices, which also has a database of their contact details.
On top of that, you also have a customer support software system where their emails come in and you answer their questions.
And if those systems don't talk to each other — you have three places where you store their data.
Let's say your customer, we're gonna call him John, emails you that his billing address has changed. No big deal, right?
But if you get that information through your customer support system, the data doesn’t just need to be updated there — you also need to update it in two other places.
This is not only messy, but if you forget to update it everywhere, you might have the case that the customer's bill is sent to one place and the product to another. Which is just a hassle for everyone if you ask us.
All of this leads to a frustrated team, inefficiency, and upset customers. Money left on the table. Which are enough reasons you need to start integrating your systems. Gone are the days of siloed software solutions. In an interconnected world based on APIs, software should talk to each other. In real time.
Top benefits of implementing EAI
The benefits of integrating your enterprise systems are many, these are the ones we’ve seen manifest in our client projects and have the most impact on the company as a whole.
Faster Time-To-Market, happy customers
Want to bring a new product to market, but adding it to your webshop takes forever? Manually processed orders are not only full of errors, but take forever to ship. All of that and more increases your Time-To-Market. Enterprise Application Integration tools eliminate tiresome manual processes and increase customer satisfaction by getting your product out there — faster.
Increased productivity through automation
Every business is based on processes, usually covered by multiple applications. By automatically transferring data between these systems, you can help facilitate smooth workflows and support your team’s productivity.
New competitive advantage with more data
Integrated applications share their data with others. So now it becomes possible to combine these data points in many ways. Which means your business can gain new insights into the entire business. Building such a comprehensive database could give you an unbeatable strategic advantage over your competitors.
Scalable infrastructure you can easily extend
When your business experiences growth, you’ll likely need new software systems to support it. With a proper application integration in place, you won’t have to start from scratch every time you need to integrate a new system. You can quickly add your new software to the mix and benefit from the new data integration in very little time.
EAI — where to start?
Before you decide whether you should go ahead and buy an off-the-shelf Enterprise Integration Application or customized service, we recommend doing an assessment first.
Go ahead and make a list of all the existing software systems running in your business. Also talk to your team about which systems cause the most trouble when it comes to data reliability and data redundancy. Maybe these systems already offer some kind of integration you’re not leveraging yet? Even if the systems are hardly synced, it's an immediate improvement.
We also recommend taking a look at apps like Zapier or Integromat to kick-start your integration process. Yet at the same time, we’d like to point out that, if you want to enjoy all of the benefits listed above — you’ll have to opt for a fully integrated system.
EAI systems: that’s a wrap
Alright, that wraps up our introduction to Enterprise Application Integration. We’ve covered what Enterprise Application Integration is, why it is important for your business and the benefits you could get. It’s a massive topic with many things to consider and isn’t always easy to wrap your head around — but we’d love to see you succeed.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. No strings attached. Drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’d be happy to answer your questions.
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