Organizations of all sizes are starting to recognize the challenges of working across multiple systems simultaneously. Improvements to data integration platforms can help streamline processes, reduce costs, simplify employee workload, and drive company growth and performance.
System integration—the process of strategically connecting applications and data to enable process automation, real-time analytics, and enterprise-wide orchestration—gets more complex as enterprises scale. Enterprise system integration is all about ensuring legacy, on-prem, and cloud applications operate in unison to streamline business processes. A single enterprise integration platform, or iPaaS, can do so, unlocking the following benefits:
- Streamlined and automated business processes
- Cost savings and operational efficiencies
- Full utilization of technology investments
- Flexibility to experiment and innovate
- Increase security and governance
- Real-time customer feedback
- Faster growth and product development
- Efficient remote workflows
The global integration system market is set to grow by 11.7% by 2025. Let’s dive deeper into the importance of enterprise system integration and how to adopt the best technology.
|Download the State of Enterprise Integration report for a comprehensive overview of the market today.
What is system integration?
System integration generally refers to connecting a variety of applications and components into a single system that supports the kind functions that drive modern business. This can be as simple as connecting two cloud-based tools using their APIs, or as complex as managing hundreds of integrations among legacy systems, on-premise and cloud data warehouses, custom applications, and microservices on enterprise integration architecture.
Enterprise system integration happens on an integration platform (or iPaaS) that developers use to centrally manage multiple integration architectures and configurations, preferably with low-code building and managed, cloud-native infrastructure that scales automatically to meet capacity needs.
Without an iPaaS to manage enterprise integrations, it’s easy to find yourself up against some serious challenges.
The biggest roadblocks to enterprise system integration
Many companies are just managing to keep up with the requirements of managing integrations, whether on a home-grown solution that requires extensive maintenance, or on a legacy iPaaS that doesn’t meet modern standards for cloud-based, real-time data streaming and orchestration.
To get from constantly playing catchup to reclaiming time for innovation, you’ll need to overcome these common obstacles to managing system integrations at scale:
- Relying solely on developers who specialize in integrations. When integrations are hard-coded or overly intricate, it takes specialty engineering resources to manage them. This sends hiring and outsourcing costs soaring.
- Not having a centralized platform to manage enterprise-wide integrations. The more siloed different integrations are, the harder it is to achieve real orchestration.
- Not being able to efficiently access crucial data, either from on-prem systems or legacy software that can’t handle real-time data flows.
- No secure way to connect data to external partner systems, like suppliers, clients, and auditors.
- Lack of time to deal with these problems. Too many digital transformation initiatives feel overwhelming or take the back burner to other customer-facing product improvements. However, integrations drive product excellency—deprioritizing integrations will eventually hinder your product’s success anyway.
8 benefits of investing in an enterprise integration strategy
The benefits to enterprise system integration are almost becoming table stakes. Customers expect fast, performant products that operate on an interconnected set of applications and services. Internally, top talent expects to access data from multiple systems and use it to build the best possible product, customer experience, and operational workflows.
To stay competitive, companies must fully capitalize on these benefits—the more fine-tuned their systems, the better their margins and growth metrics. Here’s how to do it on a modern integration platform:
1. Full utilization of legacy systems
Instead of replacing or refactoring older ERPs, databases, custom software, or other legacy solutions, enterprise IT teams can protect their initial investment and extend their capabilities with newer, cloud-based tools. By building a single integration to an iPaaS that sits between modern services and legacy systems, data can flow securely from old to new without overloading compute resources or requiring extensive maintenance.
A common example of this newfound agility is modernizing the procure-to-pay process. A company would use a built-in SAP integration to connect ERP data to their iPaaS, allowing the data to flow freely through cloud accounting tools, supplier systems, and a BI solution without straining the original server. As soon as a purchase order is created in SAP, a slew of automations are triggered to speed up approvals, invoice matching and payment, and updates to metrics in AP dashboards.
2. Streamlined, automated processes
With legacy and cloud solutions connected on the same integration platform, your options for process automation greatly expand. Each department or go-to-market team can prioritize automations that help them better serve customers, iterate on products, or improve margins.
A strong use case for automation lies in the customer journey, where an intricate web of website activity, in-product behavior, email communication, support workflows, and dozens of other interaction types paint the full picture of how well you’re acquiring and retaining customers.
With your website, products, marketing automation platform, CRM, helpdesk solution, and more connected on a single integration platform, you can build automations that ensure customers don’t fall through the cracks.
Many companies even create fully automated self-serve channels where smaller customers can try, buy, troubleshoot, and upgrade to higher pricing tiers of a SaaS product without ever interacting with sales or a live support agent. This frees up resources for enterprise sales without losing other potential revenue streams.
3. Lower labor costs and TCO
Maintaining an enterprise technology stack means procuring and installing many platforms and components, managing complicated billing situations for hundreds of vendors, and often hiring specialized developers to build and maintain integrations across them all.
And if your company isn’t paying an internal team of experts to maintain your disparate systems, you may find yourself outsourcing—this can drive up costs rapidly, depending on the number and complexity of your systems.
Today’s most cost-effective integration platforms solve this problem with low-code integration tools and centralized, managed infrastructure. Instead of requiring integration specialists or extensive training, these platforms allow general or junior developers to build integrations at scale by dragging and dropping reusable components in a visual interface.
An effective integration solution can eliminate your reliance on the costly subscriptions, updates, and licensing fees that come with multiple systems. Additionally, internal developers don’t have to manage integration infrastructure, instead relying on their integration platform vendor to provide autoscaling, containerized services that support massive enterprise integration projects.
4. Innovative new use cases for your data
Once you’re able to access structured and unstructured data from different systems in real-time, true innovation begins. Your integration platform should enable any number of integration architectures, from enterprise service bus (ESB) to hub-and-spoke, connecting on-prem databases, cloud data lakes and warehouses, and third party data sources and applications that help you understand your business better.
With a single, central ecosystem and a 360° view of all your data, business leaders can explore and benchmark against metrics relevant to their departments using BI tools that don’t require coding or analyst experience. Data scientists and analysts spend their time fine-tuning sophisticated data models, experimenting with AI, and building data-enabled products for customers and internal stakeholders.
Because data all runs through a centralized integration platform, it only takes a single update to roll out improvements enterprise-wide.
5. Improved data security and governance
When sensitive data gets out into the world, your business can face significant financial consequences—as well as a loss of trust among your customers. Using a modern iPaaS for system integration means you’re always operating on a secure, enterprise-grade platform that protects sensitive, business-critical data.
Your iPaaS should allow you to quickly toggle security controls on and off across all of your integrations. For example, IT might enable single sign on (SSO) across hundreds of enterprise applications in just a few minutes by using prebuilt connectors and components on their integration platform.
In industries with an intense regulatory environment, companies can use integration platforms to stay on top of compliance requirements. An enterprise-grade solution includes detailed logging, built-in governance, and scalable workflows for changing business logic to keep up with evolving laws.
6. Real-time customer feedback loops
Customers may not always tell you how they feel about your product, but their actions do. Companies with fully integrated systems can access real-time event data from their website and product, combine it with customer data from Salesforce and other sales and marketing tools, then use it to better tailor support and product improvements to their ideal customer.
This is especially powerful for product-led or community-led strategies that rely on early adopters, power users, and the developer community to guide the product roadmap. However, even the most traditional enterprise sales team benefits from real-time feedback during trials, pilots, and onboarding to increase ACV and expansion revenue down the road.
7. Accelerated growth and time to market
With time-consuming processes automated, manual data entry eliminated, and real-time analytics accessible from anywhere, your organization can reach important milestones faster.
Product teams are able to launch powerful, customer-facing apps that rely on accurate data from a multitude of sources. Sales and marketing teams can use automation to target your most valuable customer segments and bring in higher-ACV deals.
Having a scalable integration strategy frees up IT resources to streamline business processes and accelerate common workflows instead of spending time managing integration infrastructure. The more sophisticated your company’s automation capabilities, the faster you can eliminate bottlenecks and bring exciting new systems to market.
8. Work-from-home for the future
The pandemic exposed enterprise integration weaknesses like nothing had before. As the workforce went remote overnight, many large enterprises found it hard to work around company firewalls and IT guardrails.
On an enterprise integration platform, your business has a central source of truth that both employees and automated systems can access securely from anywhere. On-prem systems stay protected, business stakeholders and partners make decisions on real-time data in the cloud, and customers enjoy a seamless experience that’s completely location-independent.
Enterprise system integration on Digibee
Digibee is the only integration platform that scales integration workflows while reducing cost, technical debt, and the burden on development teams. Enterprises use it to manage multiple integration models, quickly building, testing, deploying, and monitoring every integration from one flexible platform.
With Digibee, you don’t have to start from scratch to realize the key benefits of system integration. Developers can use Capsules, or modular components to quickly build new integrations and manage them without specialized training. The platform’s flexibility allows even the most daunting integration projects to move faster—you can modernize legacy systems, adopt new tools without abandoning old ones, and migrate away from outdated software solutions at your own pace without impacting the business.
To learn more, take our product tour or request a personalized demo from our sales team.