Intelligent Pathways has attended several events recently and have engaged with a number of clients on a strategic level around the subject of integration. We quizzed Simon McCabe on some of the key themes from these meetings and the types of insights clients are seeking.
1. How important a role do you see an integration platform for modern enterprises?
The operative term here is modern enterprise. What characterises the modern enterprise? Broadly, they have adaptive offerings, multi-touch point engagement with clients and streamlined and collaborative relationships with suppliers.
All these elements require integration, but not necessarily a platform. However, if you want to be able to scale, have a strong security posture and better leverage your assets through reuse, then a platform is essential.
2. What do you look for in organisations when assessing the type of platform they need?
Beyond the immediate system integration needs there are a few elements I look for in conversations with clients:
- An outward facing business posture (both customers and 3rd parties)
- An appetite for the possibilities of what data can do. Integration is essentially the means by which data is not only moved around, but analysed, enriched, created and converted to value.
- A design rather than development mindset.
3. How can an API strategy help customers short-term & long-term?
I think the long-term benefits are well documented as they are a critical determinant for investment decisions – reuse, speed to market, cost of delivery and risk mitigation. Short-term benefits are often overlooked, and for me the key benefit that stands out can be summed up in one word – participation. An API strategy immediately enables an organisation a ’seat at the table’ of the API economy, where collaborative and interconnected business ecosystems are driving growth.
4. What lessons have you learned when taking on large integration projects?
We’re just embarking on a large integration project now, so we’re effectively at the starting gate. And we’ve already gained some deep lessons through the consulting phase. The key learning for me is that understanding your business priorities – I mean really understanding what the most important things for your business are over the next 3, 5, maybe 10 years – gives you the clarity you need to progress.
A large integration project will have a wide variety of integration parts needed – obviously API-led, messaging, file-based integrations (MFT and the like), current and emerging data integration requirements, and even process automation. These are all servicing important business needs, and you can take a priority snapshot at a total business level. But take that down a layer and look at the relative prioritisation in different areas of your business – customer/digital, workspace/operations, business applications and your priorities may take on a different complexion, particularly once you overlay which business area is most critical going forward.
5. What is the chief recommendation you would give to the modern enterprise when embarking on a digital integration project?
When embarking on a digital change journey, outcomes are as equally or more important than control. To achieve this you must consider a shift from an IT governance model to a digital governance model, and take the lead from the business stakeholders. This involves a good deal of change management, equipping those business stakeholders to take ownership and accountability of these new assets, and transitioning ‘IT’ to an enabling governance capability, proactively ensuring technology investments are adequately leveraged.