It seems like ancient history when IT departments were the sole decision-makers on what types of tools and solutions the rest of the company used within an enterprise. Now, that’s hardly the case, and individual lines of business increasingly drive application adoption, including SaaS ERPs, CRMs, and other cloud-based services.
With companies’ technology decisions being rapidly decentralized, IT is no longer the sole decision-maker in terms of the systems and applications being used inside the organization. Instead, individual departments and business units are shaping requirements for the technologies they need to address specific business-oriented use cases and shifting market dynamics.
And that’s OK. Part of the IT modernization journey means organizations must learn to leverage the right tools and technologies to elevate their business, and that means balancing individual department needs with the overall needs of the business.
But as more and more of these apps are being deployed in the cloud, internal IT, infrastructure, and integration teams are challenged to provide a coherent integration strategy among these varied solutions. Additionally, business processes are only growing more complex as organizations prioritize automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. Finding the right technology balance will help you respond to changing market dynamics, but only if you can effectively support and integrate those technologies in a way that provides added value for your business.
Consider the high-wire balancing act you might see in a circus. A lack of proper focus on maintaining steadiness and precise footing will end up in disaster (though there’s often a safety net to ensure it’s not too disastrous). But the performer also must account for numerous outside forces – high winds, a passing bird, sudden flashes of reflected light – to maintain the right balance and successfully get from Point A to Point B.
Similarly, this high-wire technology balancing act involves a mix of solutions and approaches to help you fend off the various outside forces that are changing market dynamics. Leaning too much one way or the other means the business is more apt to fall, and there may not be a safety net below. But what if you had a wider rope to walk on, that could ensure strength against external market forces and help maintain equilibrium?
An ecosystem integration solution will reliably support those core legacy solutions as well as emerging business demands, providing organizations a wider platform to balance their needs and navigate their journeys.
A Balancing Act of Technologies, Approaches
Balance can manifest in several ways in today’s business IT landscape. There are those companies still relying on their outdated and legacy business processes who don’t have a clear infrastructure modernization plan moving forward. And there are other companies who already have modernized their environment but have also successfully integrated their legacy tools and homegrown solutions.
The key is to not just balance old and new technologies, but also old and new approaches. Here’s what we mean:
- Applications: While SaaS-based applications are increasingly complementing or replacing on-premise ones, the traditionally monolithic core applications, such as ERPs and CRMs, also are being broken up. In fact, a new era of post-modern ERPs has been established, where organizations are moving away from heavily customized and expensive on-premise systems to out-of-the-box cloud deployments with components coming from a range of providers.
- B2B data exchange: A similar dichotomy exists between traditional and modern ways to manage integration and exchange data between organizations. EDI, based on batch file exchange, has been the lifeblood of the supply chain for many years now. But many organizations in supply chain industries, particularly transportation, logistics, and 3PL providers, have augmented their batch EDI workflows with real-time APIs for up-to-the-minute B2B processing.
- Custom approaches: Organizations are happy to outsource EDI, often only to get a black-box managed service solution with little visibility and control. Even if they leverage a self-service integration tool in the cloud, they still have to engineer and build their own solutions. Balancing a strategic blend of managed-service and self-service capabilities ensures businesses leverage the right blend for their specific needs.
Of course, these trends will not appear overnight for most organizations, and there continue to be many businesses relying on legacy systems that suit their needs, for now, making some less likely to make big changes anytime soon (albeit at their own peril).
Balancing B2B Integration and Application Integration
Enterprises also must balance how they move and integrate data both internally and externally to ensure end-to-end processing and visibility. For too long, businesses have chosen to address B2B data flows with one technology and internal application data flows with another. This technology accumulation creates cumbersome management processes and disparate data silos for what are very similar data patterns. An ecosystem integration platform supports all manner of internal application and external EDI and B2B data flows to successfully integrate your important processes.
The True Value of Ecosystem Integration
Real business value is derived from the dynamic interaction with a company's ecosystem of partners, suppliers, and customers – and much of this is still being driven by traditional EDI and B2B interactions. But organizations cannot ignore the API-driven integrations required for modern SaaS systems, nor the integration challenges introduced by the move from monolithic back-end systems to more distributed solutions components.
Similarly, the choice should not be between an outsourced black box and or “do-it-yourself” approach. Rather, integration vendors should allow customers to outsource those things for which they do not wish to maintain a skill set, while giving them clear visibility into operations and the capability to take control of those integrations they want to manage.
Cleo’s ecosystem integration approach provides a unique “outside in” view of integration – one that prioritizes B2B interactions with external customers, suppliers, and trading partners and integrates them into your internal processes and application-based workflows. Add in a blend of managed and self-service capabilities with full transparency into critical data-based operations and your business will achieve the right balance of technologies, approaches, and capabilities all from a single platform.
Download “The Common-Sense Guide to IT Modernization” to learn more about what it means to modernize, how to support hybrid integration, and how an ecosystem-driven integration platform enables enterprise agility, insulates organizations from disruption, and supports the technology balance required for digital transformation.