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IT Integration for Customer Experience

In our first two reports on IT integration for customer experience,*1 we covered a lot of ground, discussing the business and technology drivers for enterprise integration, the overall integration solution landscape, an eleven-point best practice integra-tion strategy for customer experience, and the pillars of that strategy: scenario-based integration and a networked integration environment.

Now, we are ready to discuss transitioning the networked integration environment (NIE) from an architectural view to a realized infrastructure, starting with the NIE backbone. As we mentioned in our last report, there are pertinent solutions from the service-oriented architecture (SOA) space that can provide NIE functions. One of particular note is the enterprise service bus (ESB), which is a viable candidate for the NIE backbone.

Unfortunately, the ESB is awash in confusion, propelled by the industryís need to associate products with service-oriented architecture. So, before we dive into a series of deep technical and product analysis reports on leading ESB solutions, we thought it was important to answer the major questions surrounding ESB.

Those questions are:

  1. What is an enterprise service bus?
  2. Is an enterprise service bus an architecture or a product?
  3. What are the enterprise service bus features and functions?
  4. What does the enterprise service bus look like?
  5. Is the enterprise service bus here to stay?

Before addressing the ESB questions, we provide a recap of the key concepts from our earlier integration reports: scenarios, shifts in application development and information delivery, and the networked integration environment.

Scenarios and Integration

There are three critical, interrelated views of integrationócustomer, business, and ITóeach taking the form of a scenario. The customerís scenario (her ideal experience) drives the business and IT scenarios.

From the customerís point of view, integra-tion refers to her total experience. A customer views integration as consistency, accuracy, unified information access, seamless interactions, and relevant, tailored-for-me company outreach.

To fulfill the customerís view of integration, business personnel think about the processes, infor-mation, systems, and hand-offs that need to be in place to support the customerís scenario. In addition, the business thinks about how to fund and measure the execution of the scenario. From the business point of view, integration is process and information, supported by systems.


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