Technology integration: Introducing your enterprise to the hybrid integration platform
People are resistant to change, especially if that change means they have to learn a new set of skills and challenge themselves to do more in the workplace. But change is inevitable, particularly when it comes to technology integration, where advances happen at breakneck speed and where enterprises can be left behind if they don’t stay on top of the biggest developments in each area.
One such area is implementing a hybrid integration platform, which is defined as the act of integrating on-premises and in-the-cloud applications and data sources, business partners, clients, mobile apps, social networks and ‘things’ as needed to enable organizations to pursue digital business, bimodal IT and other modern business and technology strategies.
It is in effect a modern approach to integrating different services, allowing departments to remain flexible and adaptable while at the same time retaining a certain degree of central control and oversight — and enterprises are embracing it in a big way.
A study by Research and Markets revealed that the amount of money spent on hybrid integration platforms will almost double over the space of just five years — from $17.14 billion in 2017 to $33.6 billion in 2022.
But while the benefits of such a system may be obvious for the director of integration, convincing the rest of the company can be a challenge — which is why it is important to have a full strategy in place to ensure the rollout goes smoothly.
Here are five key steps for successfully implementing your plan:
1. Identify the problem
The first step when looking to deploy any new technology in your business is to identify the problem. Not only will this justify the additional financial outlay the company will be making, but it will also help you convince those around you that the solution is needed.
In relation to a hybrid integration platform, you will need to analyze your organization’s business and IT needs. After this assessment, you can then formulate a capabilities framework that would actually support these needs. This framework is a sort of high-level categorization of the capabilities that an ideal comprehensive platform would provide.
Because all companies are different — not only in size but also in terms of their needs and requirements — each framework will differ to a degree. It is also likely that all options you come up with won’t be implemented right away, meaning that you will need to prioritize components that are critical to your business.
2. Find a solution
When implementing any technology integration solution, it is important to remember that you cannot simply throw out legacy systems entirely and start from scratch. Not only would this be prohibitively expensive, it would also be more disruptive. Therefore, IT departments need to compare their present systems with their current and emerging needs and assess what parts can be adapted, what parts can be kept and what parts need to be replaced completely.
For those implementing hybrid integration platforms, it is likely that you already use some combination of ESB, ETL, B2B gateway software or API management platforms. They may have hundreds, if not thousands, of integration flows and APIs implemented on top of them. Throwing this out completely and bringing in iPaaS, iSaaS and API management technologies is not an option.
Instead, integration directors will need to see where their systems are lacking. Most likely this will be in the areas of cloud deployment, governance, API management and IoT integration support.
3. Explain the problem
You are now in full command of where your systems need to be upgraded, but in order to convince everyone else that this is a necessary step to take, you will need to clearly explain just what the problem is and how you are going to solve it. This is key to making the transition as smooth as possible and requires you to clearly describe the issues to people who may not be integration specialists.
One way of achieving your goal is to bring on board so-called champions who will act as your emissaries to the various departments around the company. Identifying these people and bringing them on board early can help prevent a lot of misunderstanding and possible anger at the changes coming down the line.
Sending out company-wide emails is not a good idea when it comes to informing your employees. Not only are such mass messages routinely ignored by staff, they also fail to convey the nuance of the situation and could alienate a huge swath of the workforce.
Instead, get your champions to hold smaller meetings to personally address people’s concerns before holding a company-wide meeting where anyone can ask questions about what’s happening and when it will take place.
4. Schedule training
Once people know what’s about to happen, the next major step is to schedule training for all those who will be impacted.
As part of the capabilities framework, you will have identified the areas where staff lack the skills to implement your hybrid integration platform, which will help you formulate your training strategy. It will also allow you to quickly understand if you need to retain outside expertise in order to bring staff up to speed in particular areas.
While a well-resourced integration team may already have all the skills needed to implement a comprehensive hybrid integration platform, they may lack the skills necessary to roll out a self-service–oriented hybrid integration platform, which many companies are not seeking to adopt.
However you structure your training program, it is key to ensure that you make the training itself as engaging as possible, highlighting to staff how the new technology will benefit them as well as the company.
5. Roll out your technology integration plan — slowly
Few organizations have the resources and skills in place to overhaul their established integration platform in a single big bang effort. Therefore it is important that as part of your planning you structure a gradual rollout. This ensures that budgets are met and that there is not a huge impact on the operation of the business.
What comes first will strongly depend on what your company does. For example, if you are engaged in an API economy initiative, bringing an API management system online will be a top priority. Likewise, if you have a research and development department that focuses heavily on smart sensors and devices, implementing an IoT integration will top your to-do list.
In order to sell these systems to those holding the purse strings, directors of integrations will need to convince their CIOs or other top management of their business efficacy. While some CIOs may have an innate understanding of hybrid integration platforms, others may take more convincing. In this instance, it is vital that your claims for the benefits of these new systems don’t overstate the case and that you provide a pragmatic overview of how the financial outlay will impact the business.
As the study from Research and Markets has shown, hybrid integration platforms will be hugely important for many businesses. And as with any new technology, it is important to spend time carefully understanding why these systems are needed, what solutions are required and, crucially, how they will be introduced.