The extended enterprise is the most successful business model to date, bringing buyers and sellers together in the most efficient way ever. Emulating that model and becoming an extended enterprise is the motivation for digital transformations, that is bringing customers and partners together to buy and sell products, solutions and services.
The desired outcomes tend to get the airtime at the start of a digitalization journey. Outstanding customer experience, more efficient processes and operations, automation, and higher profits usually top the agenda. Transforming integration doesn’t usually make the wish list, but it needs to be right up there.
There are three main reasons for this.
First, integration is a critical enabler of digitalization and a huge part of it. Already IT teams globally are spending over a third of their time on integration projects, according to the MuleSoft’s 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report and custom integrations are costing large enterprises on average £2.5 million ($27.55 million) each in annual labour.
Integration is what turns a bunch of technology initiatives in a cohesive whole that supports streamlined processes, greater automation, and consistent customer experience plus it overcomes data silos.
Second, integration must itself transform to leverage new technologies and models to secure better return on investment; for example, moving to such as integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) and cloud-native migration from the traditional enterprise service bus (ESB) software and webservices. Without this progression to modern integration practices and tools, integration will not be aligned with the wider digitalization effort within the company.
In other words, integration itself must undergo transformation if it is to expedite rather than hinder its central role.
Third, by definition, becoming an extended enterprise means the number of integration points will proliferate. This is for various reasons: first of all more parties could be involved in a single transaction; third parties need to consume services through APIs; applications run across different kinds of infrastructure such as public cloud, private data centers and so on -premise, and integration must make this seamless to gain the benefits; a defining characteristic of digital companies is that they are data driven, which means being able to pull and analyse data from across the organization.
Gartner’s view is that as the volume of integration grows, it will evolve to be less the sole province of technical specialists, to become an everyday part of many people’s jobs, including those in business functions. Consequently, it is essential to ensure the tools they need are easy to use and easily available, and that the same versions of the technology are deployed in a consistent fashion.
Embracing the HIP
Gartner’s recommendation to meet these and other needs is what it calls the hybrid integration platform or HIP. The ‘hybrid’ in HIP describes the essential co-existence of legacy and modern integration technologies as part of digital transformation. The boxes on the left of the diagram below represent traditional integration tools, many of which are at least a decade old.
The blue boxes on the right are modern tools and frameworks that are the building blocks for transforming integration, so that integration in-turn is fit for purpose as an enabler of the wider digitalization.
Building blocks: digital-ready, modern, hybrid integration landscape
Over time, the aim is for organizations to progress from the left to the right, but this is a complex undertaking, rather than a straightforward journey. No two enterprises will take an identical route. The progression needs to be tackled in the right order at the right time and at the right pace to suit each one’s priorities, goals and budget. Certain facets are disciplines within themselves, such as assessing where the gaps are, identifying which tools to modernize (not all will be suitable) and that cornerstone of transformation success, governance.
Companies typically do not have the necessary skill sets or resources to navigate all the hurdles to creating the HIP they need; hence Torry Harris Integration Solutions (THIS) offers a set of mix and match services to help enterprises transform their integration landscape. The eight sets of services represented below are all designed to help THIS’ customer define a transformation plan and execute it successfully.
Data integration transformation through data virtualization
For example, THIS finds many customers are committed to deploying a HIP but find it hard to know where or how to start. This is where the bespoke consulting comes in, to help them define the best architecture for their integration transformation. Some elements of legacy integration will not need to be modernized as the systems or applications they support will be retired rather than become cloud native.
THIS’ consultancy helps customers progress from their vision through an enabling architecture to execution.
Integration transformation doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it is an embedded part of the wider digital transformation, hence the five bundles of services represented in the schematic are also offered in that broader context as well as with an emphasis on integration. Perhaps the most obvious examples are transforming applications to a cloud-native model, and APIs and microservices.
However, given the increasing importance and proliferation of integration, THIS has designed two more services specific to transforming integration.
THIS is well known for the depth of its experience and expertise in governance as part of digital transformation. A lack of governance is a big contributor to the failure of most digital transformation efforts, as we explore and explain in detail here.
Arguably governance is even more important when creating a HIP as individual teams may not be aware of how the company is transforming its legacy IT to a modern stack and how to maintain the right level of hybrid integration. With this in mind, THIS launched its integration governance and empowerment framework in May 2021.
Good governance sets up the structure and processes required to produce the desired results for all stakeholders, making the best use of an enterprise’s resources at any given time. The schematic below shows what a mature governance framework looks like.
It is no overstatement to say that if an enterprise does not get governance, it won’t get transformation either.
The third integration transformation-specific services offered by THIS are to help clients define, design and develop the technical building blocks they need in their HIP model – an example is shown in the diagram below. Again, this is an important consideration because, as mentioned, no two enterprises are the same.
Hybrid Integration Platform - An overview
The migration strategy isn’t simply about which legacy technologies should be modernized or retired, but how fit for purpose they are and how to evolve them to what’s needed, business priorities and synching with other transformation activities and goals. Integration transformation is the engine house of digitalization, and it cannot be looked at or executed in isolation.
Once the migration strategy is in place, THIS can help to implement it, providing support and operational services for the migrated integration technologies within the HIP.
Integration transformation is at the heart of every successful digital transformation. Taking the critical step of putting a HIP in place is challenging, which is THIS’ expertise and experience. THIS can provide invaluable support throughout.
Torry Harris Integration Solutions (THIS) offers a set of mix and match services to help enterprises successfully transform their integration tools and practices.
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