Most successful companies have come to realise that, in order to perform well in competitive industries, comprehensive business integration is now a necessity. This is particularly true if your organization depends heavily on technology: the need to respond to changing market demands and improving technologies means that deploying a flexible, streamlined business integration solution is a critical task — and an ongoing one.
IT departments are often eager to plug in new applications and business solutions in order to accommodate new business processes. And while this process is necessary, it almost always created a gap. The gap widens every time a new application or software is introduced into the business process. Thus, if the business integration solution is not flexible, scalable, and consistently maintained, disparate systems will inevitably lead to breakdowns in productivity and data sharing.
While IT will always be willing and able to develop and/or deploy new software, they often lack the specific expertise to craft middle solutions. Even more, the inherent problem with tackling business integration in-house is that its success is not merely hinged on technology; business integration is the conflation of both strategy and technology.
This is why a business integration consultant is so critical to launching and maintaining effective business integration solutions — particularly for larger corporations dealing with disparate systems and legacy software that needs to be reconciled with new solutions. A competent consultant leverages skill sets in both strategy and technology: the consultancy understands that business strategy constitutes the exterior aspect of the organization, whereas technology encompasses data access, application interface and process renovation—elements that are essential to have a functional organization.
While an IT department will default to seeing business integration needs primarily from the technological perspective, business professionals only think of business processes in the abstract, without having a sense of whether their process requirements can be attained via middleware. A consultant can mediate these two teams of stakeholders in the business integration process.
When looking outside of your organisation for an effective business integration consultant, look for one that addresses the solution primarily from a business stake holder’s perspective. To be sure, this is a standard “pitch” for many consultancies, since they often recognize that they ultimately have to sell their services and solution to non-tech executives. That being said, a consultant should be able to demonstrate that they understand your company’s specific needs, and offer business integration solutions that are tangible to the stakeholder. While they could mire you in the technical details, it is more important that they grasp your company’s needs at a higher level of abstraction than the IT view.
We’ve talked on the portal before about the importance of understanding the differences between business process modeling and service oriented architecture, stating that BPM essentially comes before SOA, and that SOA is a “means to an end.” If we take this line of thinking one step further, then we can see business integration as the discipline that encompassed both BPM and SOA. As a result, it is essential to have a business integration consultant at the helm of visualizing, implementing, and maintaining all new integration solutions.
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