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Essentially, an untamed process is usually symptomatic of an integration failure—it indicates that something hasn't been incorporated into the domain of a specific application or that there's an absent or inadequate hand-off between applications.

Author and consultant David Linthicum notes that, too often, companies accept applications that are decoupled or not "wholeheartedly" integrated.

That fact is rooted in history, says Linthicum, who is CTO of Blue Mountain Labs and an occasional contributor to ebizQ. Integration used to be a highly complex and expensive process. As a result, he says, organizations traditionally avoided its challenges or focused on integrating only the most business-critical applications.

Today's integration options

"The reasons for avoiding integration are no longer valid," Linthicum says. "There are all kinds of inexpensive integration tools that work well and are proven." In fact, he adds, integration tasks that once would have required an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars can now be accomplished for a price tag in the thousands.

Another way to eliminate many untamed processes: Consider squeezing them back into your key applications. "If you are able to, you should try to put as much of your automated business processes in a single application as possible," says Linthicum. Going that route can simplify things tremendously by eliminating much of the need for integration work. However, he admits: "In many instances, that isn't possible and you may end up, like many organizations, with thousands of apps in an infrastructure."

Still, that doesn't have to translate to defeat. Even companies on a tight budget can now access powerful public domain tools to help with integration challenges, Linthicum says. In short, there's no excuse for not integrating your untamed processes out of existence. And there are additional options on the horizon.

Analyst Ken Chin, a research vice president at Gartner Inc., foresees the emergence of integrated composite applications. For example, he says, instead of building a single application, companies will probably choose to combine multiple different application components as well as services in the cloud. "With Software as a Service [(SaaS)], you can easily tap into the service components and bring the pieces together into a composite application. That is where the integration is useful," he says. "You need the ability to integrate the application components and be able to share the contents."


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