Integration as a Strategic Imperative – Part 3: Agility and Scalability
Welcome to Part 3 of the SAP’s ‘Integration as a Strategic Imperative’ blog series. In this blog, we will focus on the concepts of Agility and Scalability.
My colleague Craig Stasila began this blog series by arguing that integration might be one of the most undervalued strategic challenges facing organizations today. In this rapidly evolving pandemic-era economy, establishing integration as a strategic imperative is more essential to success than ever before.
The most common landscape scenario is currently a cloud-first approach mixed with a legacy of data-rich but siloed on-premises systems. But in order to compete in today’s economy, companies must be able to quickly and easily connect all the people, processes, and systems within their landscape. Craig has already shown us how a streamlined platform approach is the right starting point. Now it’s my turn to highlight how integration agility and scalability can open up new business possibilities through ubiquity of data access.
APIs: the Foundation for Strategic Integration
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the essential building block for a strategic integration approach. Providing a doorway into an application to expose its services, APIs are the backbone of digital transformation, delivering a simple and agile mechanism to facilitate connectivity and interaction with data, applications, and devices.
An API-first approach to integration—the premise upon which the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite is built—involves developing and applying APIs that are consistent and reusable. APIs allow organizations to break down the entire set of features within an application into individual, autonomous services that can be quickly and easily accessed. It’s precisely this functionality that underscores how compelling and powerful an API-first approach can be.
The ability to access any application’s services and data and connect them to any other system or application is what eliminates the silos of information caused by legacy or departmental solutions. Organizations can also quickly assemble, publish, and monetize reusable APIs to create new streams of business revenue. APIs establish a nimble, easy to navigate landscape for IT and business users alike.
One example of APIs in action: SAP customer Signify built a connected infrastructure with smart outdoor lighting based on an SAP API ecosystem that combines data from light poles with third-party partner data collected from cameras, air-quality sensors, traffic patterns, and utilities. This tight integration offers a new level of agility for ‘smart cities’ by helping municipal workers identify which streetlights are out, prioritize the repair tickets, and trigger the replacement services.
Pre-built Integrations for Simplicity and Flexibility
The SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite also eliminates the time-consuming hassles of stitching together applications and services by using pre-built open connectors to more than 160 third-party applications. Line of business specialists can configure and deploy the pre-packaged, ready-to-go integration packs on their own, without initiating a complex integration project or recruiting IT expertise. These integration packs support a number of end-to-end processes and take advantage of SAP’s embedded expertise in areas such as global tax management and electronic documents for government compliance.
For example, a consumer goods company based in Spain is able to punctually comply with Spanish tax authorities using pre-built integrations. Certain security protocols are required, and information must be formatted a certain way in order for the company to remain compliant. The SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite—through an integration package managed and updated by SAP—enables this company to quickly, easily, and, most importantly, automatically exchange electronic documents with the tax agency in Spain.
As application portfolios become more and more heterogeneous, there is a heightened need to smoothly integrate and scale end-to-end processes across SAP and non-SAP applications. Pre-built content saves organizations a tremendous amount of time and cost, as the mappings and subsequent updates between systems—SAP and third party, cloud and on-premises—have already been carried out. The end-to-end processes supported by the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite can manage and analyze a whole host of activities, from the customer experience, including the initial interaction, order fulfillment, and service delivery (lead to cash); to purchasing, including selecting suppliers to meet compliance demands for procurement; to spend (source to pay).
The SAP API Business Hub
With any SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite license, SAP customers can consume needed APIs and pre-packaged content to build applications and integrations through the SAP Business Hub—a central public marketplace of all native and third-party APIs and integration content—at no additional charge. Available APIs are documented in OpenAPI, a vendor-neutral open-source format, and notifications are delivered to customers when updated versions are available from the API Business Hub.
Empowering the Business
By supporting greater self-sufficiency and agility across the business with pre-built content and APIs, the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite frees IT to move into a more sustainable, scalable role that fosters LOB-driven integration across the business. An agile, scalable integration strategy helps organizations meet the ultimate goals of getting the right information to the right person in real time in order to develop new business ideas and outcomes that will keep the organization primed for success in this increasingly volatile digital economy.
I suggest you browse all integration services offered by the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite in our discovery center. And also tune into post #4 of this integration blog series to discover how building blocks help scale integration across an organization by democratizing integration for business users.