Are you a current of future adopter of cloud technology? One of your new year’s resolutions has to be integration. So put down that ice cream cone and take a read through our 3 tips for a successful integration implementation. Then go try out our free trial to get started with the fastest and easiest integration tool on the market (after that exercise you swore to do)!
Having a good integration strategy is essential. Without one, you may find IT coding point-to-point, one-off implementations that don’t solve the challenges facing the line of business. Coding also makes your integrations difficult to manage and optimize, causing you to lose the agility that Cloud applications provide. Here are a few ideas to help you determine the what, how, and who involved with your integration project:
1. Understand WHAT you need integrated
The first thing you should do for any integration challenge is to document exactly who uses your Cloud and on-premise applications. What type of data are they working with (Contacts, Accounts, Orders, Support tickets, etc.)? Where does that data need to be accessible and which application will act as your primary source of record? How often does that data need to be updated; once a week or in real-time? The key to a successful integration project is to first understand the business process and people that will benefit from connecting your various applications. You may find that your integration can be implemented in phases, and expanded to other departments after an initial proof of concept.
2. Understand HOW you will connect to your applications
Most modern cloud applications today offer flexible and extensive APIs to access your data. While there are standards for these APIS (usually SOAP or REST web services), the structure, security rules, and volume/transaction limitations will differ dramatically between cloud applications. One of the great things about the cloud is that the architecture of your application is entirely managed by your vendor – but it also means you have to abide by their rules.
Once you understand these APIS you also should think about a solution that will allow you to standardize your integration processes and allow many resources to manage it. Cloud APIs change up to 4 times a year, so don’t even think about hard-coding/scripting your integrations. This is equivalent to wiring your various audio/video boxes to your TV haphazardly. It might seem like the quickest way to start watching that DVR, but at some point you’re going to switch out your cable box or need to get behind the TV. Don’t get back there and start wondering which wire goes to where.
3. Decide WHO owns the integration strategy, implementation, and management
Before the growth of Cloud, an integration strategy was something that IT leadership might not have prioritized, but the advent of cloud brings it to the forefront. IT must make the case for an integration strategy by aligning it with business initiatives. Many Cloud applications today (such as Salesforce, Marketo, and GoodData) are adopted by users from the sales, marketing, and operations side of the business. It can also be helpful to determine who is responsible for the data, IT or the specific line of business using the data.