System integration is essential to overall business performance. It provides organizations with a 360-degree view of their business and allows them to both see the bigger picture and zoom into specific processes and workflows. That is why system integrations is something that businesses in 2023 cannot do without—especially mid-sized and large companies.
But what exactly is system integration?
In general, the term system integration describes combining different software subsystems in a way that allows them to operate as a whole – a single source of information. The data aggregated by each integrated system gets easily distributed between them when needed. For the system integration to be successful and really serve its initial purpose, enterprises often need to build up customized architecture or even a composition of applications.
Companies that adopt the system integration and implement it as a backbone of their IT infrastructure can easily resolve a variety of problems that usually act as a stumbling block for their productivity and speed of work. Such issues include the usage of more than one subsystem by different IT teams which requires them to manually transfer data back and forth. That action is time-consuming, exhausting, and often accompanied by data inaccuracies and cross-teams’ misunderstandings.
Building the right system integration strategy will allow you to maintain an uninterrupted data flow between the different systems your organization is using and make sense of the enormous amounts of data you probably already have. One of the best ways to achieve this is through a comprehensive integration platform.
It’s not always easy to integrate all your data, though: data integration comes with several key challenges, and it’s important to be aware of them to choose the right integration tool for your business. Otherwise, you risk creating bottlenecks further down the line or ending up with the wrong platform.
The basics of the system integration
Systems integration is not an easy task. In fact, it’s a complex process that requires a lot of attention, research and knowledge of the current (and subsequent future) needs of the enterprise. When done properly, companies benefit from boosted effectiveness, team productivity and better goal achievement.
There are few critical components of each successful system integration:
- Outlining Requirements: By gaining a deep understanding of the organization’s IT demands, including data transfer volumes, integration types (one-way or bi-directional), and future growth plans, better decisions can be made regarding system integration solutions.
- Evaluating Integration Solutions: Conducting a comprehensive analysis of integration solutions that align with desired criteria is crucial. This involves considering three prevalent integration tool types: code-based, low-code, and no-code. In-depth research is necessary to assess their capabilities, scalability, and availability.
- Implementation Process: The actual implementation of integration solutions typically takes between six and twelve months, depending on factors such as the chosen integration platform, the number and comprehensiveness of systems to be integrated, IT team preparation, and the state of the organization’s IT ecosystem.
- Maintenance: The maintenance phase is closely tied to the capabilities of the IT team, the company’s resources, and the stability of the IT infrastructure. Continuous support and upkeep ensure the longevity and optimal performance of the integrated systems.
It is vital to assess the capabilities of each solution you’re considering and see whether it can help you solve the challenges you’re facing. When selecting your integration vendor, remember to watch out for underwater stones, too.
In this article, we’ll outline the most important system integration challenges that companies will face in 2023, along with tips and ideas on how to tackle them.
Top 5 System Integration Challenges
- Data is Collected in Silos
Data silos are a major issue for businesses. If each department is using its own systems without connecting them to the rest of your software ecosystem, this means that you’re collecting data from lots of disparate sources which aren’t in sync. This makes it difficult to get a clear overview of your business processes or maintain seamless communication between teams.
Large informational silos that aren’t connected to the rest of the organization make your data difficult to access and use, which essentially makes your data a liability instead of an asset.
Comprehensive integration solutions facilitate key business decisions, as they provide stakeholders with instant access to up-to-date enriched data from all business areas, such as:
- Service availability
- System performance
- Risk and security assessments
- Progress on development projects
- Customer satisfaction
- Financial performance
To be able to use all the data you get from different sources, you need to connect them, and a no-code integration platform like ZigiOps can help immensely with that.
The right system integration platform allows each team to correlate data from different sources, which has several benefits:
- Faster error detection & resolution
- Data is automatically enriched, making it more useful
- Data becomes more accessible for all business units
- The decision-making process is improved, as it relies on a more comprehensive overview of the
- Increased work quality and efficiency, which leads to revenue increase.
- Enhanced data accuracy
- Easy streamlining, optimization and automation of internal IT processes and operations
- Improved overall scalability, flexibility and availability
- Each Team is Using Different Systems
In most organizations each team is using systems that they’re familiar with, and are hesitant to use the apps of peers, even if they provide highly valuable information and insights.
Each enterprise software serves its own purpose and was developed for a specific use case. The trouble begins when you have to align different systems to improve cross-team collaboration and make sure data is easy to access by everyone who needs it.
Although many apps come with basic system integration capabilities and can, at least in theory, be used with the rest of your software stack out of the box, oftentimes these do not completely solve the challenges organizations are facing. If you need to connect systems bi-directionally, gather and correlate multiple types of data, or connect more than two apps together, a no-code integration platform will be your best bet.
- You Have Several Integration Use Cases
Cross-team and cross-company integrations can be incredibly complex. If you have multiple use cases you need to tackle simultaneously, things can quickly get out of hand.
Sure, building a simple integration sequence in Zapier is easy enough for simple use cases. However, if you’re dealing with a more comprehensive integration scenario, you’ll have a hard time using a platform that doesn’t have the right customization capabilities.
When faced with complex integration scenarios, some companies decide to develop their own integrations internally. While this might seem a good idea at first, it’s often a double-edged sword and can rarely be an efficient long-term strategy: budgets balloon easily, and very few organizations have the necessary skill set easily available.
An alternative strategy that is also much more cost-efficient is to use a no-code integration platform like ZigiOps that has the right customization capabilities, allowing for more advanced, bi-directional integrations. This way, you can set up your integrations in minutes instead of days or weeks, even for the most complex use cases.
- You Need to Scale Your Integrations
Scaling integrations based might look simple at first: after all, if you can forward ten incidents from ServiceNow to Jira, why would 100 or 1000 be a challenge?
If you’re not using a reliable integration solution, however, you’ll soon start noticing delays or inconsistencies at higher volumes of data. And indeed, high availability is crucial for businesses and is a principle that should extend to your integration platform.
For this reason, we’ve designed ZigiOps with high availability (HA) in mind: our HA feature helps our clients always maintain system availability and uptime, regardless of the volume of integrated data, and of potential server failures or system downtimes.
In addition to that, each of our system integration templates is infinitely scalable. They are fully customizable and can adapt to any scenario.
- You Need Bi-Directional Integrations
Bi-directional integrations are a must since they transfer and update data between the source and target systems. However, they aren’t always easy to set up – and you would definitely need an integration platform for this.
For example, if you’re only using your apps’ native integration features, once you need to set up a bi-directional integration between two tools, you’ll be stuck. Most of the apps that can integrate with other apps offer only a one-way connectivity, and many integration platforms do not feature truly bi-directional integrations, either.
If you need to connect your software tools bi-directionally, your best bet would be a robust integration platform like ZigiOps. The ZigiOps no-code integration platform offers hundreds of bi-directional templates you can use out-of-the-box, and it also allows you to customize all elements of your integration and adapt it to your exact use case. You can discover more about ZigiOps and its features in the following video.
Address the Most Common Integration Challenges to Improve Cross-Team Collaboration
System integration is not easy, and for many organizations, it comes with a number of challenges that slow down data flows and negatively impact collaboration. Having the right data stack, the one that fits every need and requirement of the enterprise, is crucial.
To help your teams not only perform well as individual units but also work together efficiently, you need to address these system integration challenges proactively. One of the best ways to do that is by using a comprehensive no-code integration platform like ZigiOps.
Make sure the platform you select comes with the right customization features to meet your business needs, while also allowing you to connect your tools bi-directionally. This will enable your teams to stay in sync, cooperate efficiently, and solve issues together faster than ever.