How to reduce the Risks of Enterprise Integration FailureAuthor: Greg L Towne (Diriger)
Every organisation and its key stakeholders do their best when conceptualising their systems integration requirements for a critical business process. It doesn’t matter whether you have best-of-breed off-the-shelf integration platforms and methods that offer ‘Low-Code’ capabilities and other forms of marketing spin that make it sound simple and cost effective for your enterprise, these integration projects are still high-risk exercises that require appropriate levels of skill and governance in order to achieve planned success.
For starters, it's seldom the case that enterprise level systems integration is ‘simple’.
WHAT INTEGRATION SYMPTOMS AND PITFALLS SHOULD YOU BE LOOKING FOR?
Let’s look at some of the symptoms and pitfalls that most likely present themselves in most Enterprises……….
Broken and missing data – the new solution requires significant remediation in connecting systems – fixing the data is NOT always the answer in this case; we need to establish a governance regimen that not only fixes the data now but provides the means for sustaining good data downstream.
Manual Data – data input that still requires manual or batch loading is subject to even more errors and extensive validation or additions, and results in a continuous loop of time-consuming error recycling processes.
Expert Support – eventually, the new solution requires additional recruitment of consultants and auditors to help fill the gaps that capability like low-code could not deliver.
Workflows and Business Rules - one system’s workflow and business rules may not be aligned to the System of Record (SoR) or both current and proposed Enterprise Policy and Procedures; hence additional changes to these connecting systems are required to ensure business interoperability…. change one or the SoR and you need to change and test all connecting systems.
Enterprise Complexity – business is becoming more complex and requires business and system integrators, designers and developers who are familiar with complex enterprise-level system-of-system approaches and not just simple point-to-point integrations, viz. they need to understand the whole business process and its supporting entities across multiple silos.
Low-code Promises - The promised ‘low-code’ capabilities of most integration platforms won’t handle most complex enterprise level solutions and more correctly, should be called ‘Low-Complexity’ capabilities. These situations morph into requiring additional specialists experienced enough to cater for the twenty plus variations to data orchestration and modelling required in an Enterprise level solution.
Passive Data Governance – This method of data governance becomes stretched in any complex multi-system requirement; in that it was originally designed for simple or mono-structures where error reporting and data governance does not require any actionable error recycling capability across multiple systems and multiple disciplines. Complex enterprise level systems require specialised thought and a rigorous Management of Change regimen.
System ‘Lock-in’ – This item quickly turns into a journey of increased Technical Debt – system version lock-in hits an inflection-point that is difficult to recover from as it becomes more and more challenging (and costly) to singularly update a connecting system’s version or corrective capability and in a short space of time, impacts any flexible capability gained via the originally planned interoperability platform.
Band-aids and Blue-tack – this may sound harsh for the ‘Systems White Knights’ whose perceived purpose is to ride in on their charger and save the day. Before long, they are the flavour of the month and used for the filling of minor gaps in the solution with band-aid approaches that further increase technical debt and long-term restrictions to viable solutions. ICT end up trying to use Data Warehouses and other intermediary solutions, which in turn, causes an extrapolation of bad data, restrictive and broken processes, lack of faith in the data, and additional cost.
Backlogged IT Support – This symptom is trending upwards in most large enterprises as IT spend more than 80% of their time and budget just keeping the lights on. They easily get wrapped around the axels doing continuous corrective action on old poorly designed adjoining legacy systems instead of re-directing their efforts into replacing these legacy systems within the framework of an interoperability platform. This is a considerable anchor for IT, and they become incapable of providing capacity for the ever changing and needed business dynamics.
The potential outcome from any or all of these symptoms and pitfalls is that the desired solution becomes sub-par and shall not meet the expected outcomes of either the business, IT or your Customers. And the project effort shall be stretched to a 3 to 5 times blow out in delivery schedules, and at a cost of 5 to 10 times your project’s budget. Eventually, the project ends in embarrassment and failure, and the business re-directs their energy and support into spreadsheets or back to legacy solutions with their myriad of manual processes and activities; thus, perpetuating a ‘Valley of Despair’ and lost opportunity.
TRENDING BUSINESS GOALS
The symptoms and problems outlined above are being accentuated by existing and predicted business expectations and goals; especially as we move further into a changing business environment, such as:
Having to do more with less, eg. maximising resource usage and systems availability so that impacts of current market volatility can be readily assessed and addressed quickly
Providing quick access to trusted information, usage metrics, and mandated Systems of Record in real-time
Building workforce leverage and systems collaboration to maximise skills utilisation through automation, AI and Machine Learning and reduced technical debt
Visualisation of AI-based insights that facilitate fast and accurate decision-making
Accurate and timely data remediation to close the loop, control costs and sweet your resources.
There is a HUGE need to drive risk and cost out of the equation.
CONSIDER THE RIGHT APPROACH AND TECHNOLOGY CONCEPTS FOR YOUR INTEGRATION
Select an integration approach that is aligned and completely driven by your business goals, strategies, objectives, and the dynamic and evolving nature of your business. Your integration selection method needs to be cognisant of the evolving technology and related approaches that have occurred over the last two decades and the likeliness of other capabilities that have come into play (Cloud, Software as a Service, AI / ML, Open Standards, Scaleability, etc.)
The models below are indicative of this evolution and the technology has been developed to meet with the scope of complexity, the dynamics of flexibility, the efficiencies of deployment, the ongoing support (as a Service), and economic sustainability of future solutions.
INFLUENCES AND MEGATRENDS FOR OUR DIRECTION
Our approach is influenced by leveraging several megatrends impacting the operations of most large enterprises.
The transition from human-based decisions to digital machine-assisted decisions
The gig economy where personnel do not stay in the same job for very long and their knowledge keeps walking out the door
The transition to sustainable and renewable resources means that traditional life cycle management has additional complexity and constraints that the people, systems and processes must master
The rapid increase in new technologies and methodologies forces organisations to embrace change or risk industry and market obsolescence
A secure data fabric is no longer ‘just a target’….. it is a necessary means of doing business.
These megatrends drive towards increased use of digital technologies to support faster decisions and sustainability within increasingly complex environments and constraints.
Your business needs to re-focus and re-energise towards a standard-based interoperability platform that (as a minimum) exhibits the following capabilities.
SOLUTION CAPABILITY OVERVIEW
The model outlined below is indicative of our suggested re-focus and re-energising solution by using AI/ML Automation methods in a System-of-Systems environment that provides a Secure Data Fabric.
The interoperability capability provided by DirigerHUB makes the solution as seamless and scalable as possible, plus allows for flexible transition approaches aligned to the internal capability within the customer organisation.
Additional system-of-systems capabilities and data sources can be added as required; for example, Diriger’s solution does not stop at simple automation but optimises and extends capability aligned with business Goals, Drivers, Objectives, Strategies and Tactics.
Our solution also extends into the realm of Management of Change governance activities; in that the solution is linked to Master Data Management processes to include the automated management of new or additional data and salient components coupled to other key data entities and their life cycles; this is a ‘touch it once’ methodology and capability.
DIRIGER HUB INTEROPERABILITY AND COMPOSABLE PLATFORM
More information at www.diriger.io
Our DirigerHUB Enabling Platforms make use of the latest technologies, such as:
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Highly scalable and accessible cloud deployments
Micro Services and Containerisation
PWA (Progressive Web Applications) for mobile and offline capability
Our Integration, Business Rule, and Workflow platform technology
Design Thinking approach to Persona and Process-based low cognitive load UI/UX (Composable User Interface and Experience)
Interoperability aligned with the OIIE and ISO 18101
Multi-system synthesis in real-time with full audit and error recycle capabilities
Centralised security and User Profile controls (Delegations or Authority) that standardise across all systems-of-systems capability
Composable Customer-specific UI/UX configuration capability so that there are ‘No more Gaps’ in solution deployment and reduced Customer Technical Debt.