Why Do You Need A Strategy?
Business integration does not come in a shrink-wrapped box. Despite the promises
and predications of the late 1990's, it is not a single product or technology.
Nor is it a final endpoint accomplished with a single project. Business integration
focuses on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes that
run the business. It includes improving the quality and timeliness of information,
and providing information on demand and where it is needed, regardless of the
source system. This level of business agility cannot be achieved simply by implementing
integration technology on a project-by-project basis without an overall strategy
of how it all fits together. Rapid implementation of the business strategy requires
an enterprise-level integration strategy. The business integration strategy
ultimately reduces the time and cost of managing information and IT resources.
Another problem is that business integration is inherently complex. Different
types of projects will require different integration technologies. For example,
creating an enterprise portal that allows employees to view, change, and manage
their health care and 401k plans will require a different technology than integrating
electronic transactions from customers and suppliers. It is not possible to
solve all integration needs with a single product or technology. Nor is it possible
to solve all present and future integration requirements with a single project.
However, using a purely tactical approach will result in the need to integrate
the integration technologies at some point.
While tactical initiatives may be the primary drivers of integration, companies that formulate an integration strategy will achieve a much higher level of business agility. Tactical solutions may reduce integration implementation costs on a per-project basis, but the long-term cost reduction will be less significant than that of an enterprise-wide integration strategy. However, the bottom line is that designing for change and agility requires a higher initial investment.
The purpose of a business integration strategy is to enable the company to work smarter. It provides a coherent and consistent approach to integration that will guide implementation decisions and reduce costs on tactical projects, while laying the groundwork for business agility and future projects. A successful business integration strategy will provide a higher ROI and decrease the total cost of ownership over time.