Integration as a Strategic Imperative – Part 4: Integration Democratization
Welcome to Part 4 of the SAP’s ‘Integration as a Strategic Imperative’ blog series. In this blog, we will focus on the concept of Integration Democratization.
Mired down by a multitude of applications from too many vendors, it’s no secret that today’s heterogeneous hybrid landscapes pose both a challenge and an opportunity for the C-level suite. Our integration blog series continues as I aim to answer the following questions: How can integration help surface new, innovative ideas within an organization’s heterogeneous data landscape? And, how can integration hide the background intricacies and complexity of these hybrid environments to offer a simple interface for customers, partners, and employees?
My equation for integration is simple: 1+1 > infinity. It’s common for IT to define restricted interfaces that simplify the possibilities supported by the internal landscape, but when integration is available as blocks of services that can be effortlessly assembled and interconnected, an organization’s potential becomes boundless. Just as LEGOs unleash children’s imaginations to conjure up an unlimited number of new, innovative creations, in order to engage and empower business users to bring new ideas to fruition, today’s organizations need their own digital building blocks—building blocks that, like LEGOs, share a standard interlocking interface, making interconnectivity between applications, processes, and business models as straightforward and painless as possible.
Imagine users from across the organization empowered to perform and manage their own integrations. By shedding reliance on central IT, users empowered as ‘citizen integrators’ could build their own integration flows, compose new business models, and create new applications to help meet the rising demand for integration. With the right governance; intuitive, standardized integration building blocks; and content that ensures enterprise security and data protection, an organization is free to embark on a strategic endeavor to democratize integration across the enterprise.
This is where the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite comes in to play.
A hybrid, open, and modular integration platform that boasts a comprehensive set of integration scenarios fully managed across multiple environments, the Integration Suite enables organizations to systematically follow integration best practices while empowering business application developers and line of business users. An assembly line of standardized ‘plug and play’ integration building blocks for business users allows IT to shift from its watchdog role of controlling and governing access to integration into a facilitator role. That helps organizations scale their integration efforts. The additive, layered architecture of the platform is what makes these building blocks, and the innovation they inspire, possible.
Digital Building Block Layers
It all starts with APIs. My colleague Michael Hill has already touted the virtues of APIs in blog #3 of this series, and the advantages of an API-first approach to integration using the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite, but I’ll underscore APIs again as the first and foundational layer for democratizing integration. The Integration Suite allows organizations to easily expose data APIs to access information, service APIs to reveal reusable services, and decision APIs to harmonize and fortify rule-based decision-making. This creates the foundational layer of all integration building blocks.
Pre-built integration content comprises the next layer, which I’ve dubbed the ‘Netflix for integration.’ SAP delivers pre-built content that everyone and anyone within an organization can consume through a simplified interface. The pre-built integrations—currently over 100 are available—are all offered without charge as part of a ‘subscription,’ or platform license. SAP continuously adds new content and ships updated ‘seasons,’ or versions, of these integrations as they become available.
The third layer is all about engagement, where additional integration building blocks help users create low-code or no-code applications that can be exposed to many different channels, including chatbots, analytics, B2B, etc. Line-of-business and industry-based integration clouds that cover dozens of different industries are also available within the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite, as illustrated below.
Integration Excellence and Empowerment
Traditionally, IT departments created and delivered integrations based on individual requests. Initial iterations of centers of excellence consolidated an organization’s integration requirements, but the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite takes that a step further, emboldening an organization to radiate integration competency from central IT to the different lines-of-businesses—transitioning centers of excellence to centers of enablement and empowerment.
As integration becomes increasingly important, often on par with data, organizations can (and often should) install a Chief Integration Officer to uncover integration opportunities and synergies, tap into new or underused value streams and processes, and promote the Integration Suite’s digital building blocks as a center of empowerment that benefits the entire organization.
Integration Equates Intelligence
The building blocks of integration that make the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite so special are informed by SAP’s decades of deep knowledge about business processes, data, and applications.
It’s been said before but bears repeating: an integrated enterprise is an intelligent enterprise. An intelligent enterprise leverages data for impactful insights, stays agile, and maximizes every possible opportunity to function as a dynamic and connected business. How organizations can rise to this challenge, and future challenges is the fundamental question of the moment in boardrooms across the globe. While having a more interconnected, scalable, and nimble landscape is part of the answer, the ultimate solution lies in empowering less technical users as self-service integrators, where technology ceases to be a limitation and instead becomes a powerful enabler, where a user’s imagination is now the only constraint.
Want More Integration Info?
If you have not done so already, please read up on all the three previous posts in this integration series, check out the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite website, and jump into our next post, #5, focused on integration lifecycle management.