Master Data Management
A Cost-effective Solution to Integrate Multiple Applications
Why companies use multiple applications
As much as companies would like to complete all their work using a single application, it is nearly impossible to do so as there isn’t one such all-inclusive application. Software vendors create applications that cater to dedicated needs like ERP, CRM, SCM, FIN etc., but not a unified solution that can work synchronously across all departments. Therefore, companies inevitably end up relying on several applications.
Consider this example: An insurance company uses a stack of applications, such as document management, CRM, insurance workflow automation, policy management etc., for its operations. Not all of these may be owned and maintained by the same vendor or built on the same technology.
While having many applications helps get through daily operations, having to manage various applications and the data that they store adds to an organisation’s burden.
Need for application integration
Dealing with multiple software applications comes with myriad challenges—too many passwords to remember, different interfaces to learn, and fragmented file storage, to name a few. There is also the danger of compromising processes, quality, efficiency, consistency, and security. Is there a way to mitigate these drawbacks?
This is where application integration steps in. It makes disparate software systems communicate among one another by consolidating and sharing data, resources, and processes among these applications.
Generally, the process uses a middleware to transfer resources among applications and saves manual intervention and taxing hours of programming.
Benefits of application integration
An integration platform eliminates the need to enter data manually on to each application. A one-time data entry is sufficient. Thereafter, all connected applications can access this data to process their tasks. This results in a huge saving of time and effort.
Also, changes made to data automatically get distributed throughout the connected applications. This reduces human error and the need for manual intervention, besides ensuring consistency across platforms.
There are other advantages too, such as the following:
- It offers a consolidated view of data from various sources.
- It optimises data and streamlines workflow without overengineering, making infrastructure modern and supporting agile business operations.
- It allows integration of applications with cloud computing platforms (AWS, GCP, Azure), thereby making operations more scalable.
- It helps bridge the gap between existing legacy systems and fast-evolving cloud-based enterprise applications.
- Through smooth interconnected processes and data exchanges, application integration allows enterprises to perform a variety of operations effectively and efficiently.
In short, application integration makes life easier.
NerveWire’s survey on North American information technology executives found that most companies could gain 40% increase in revenue, 30% decrease in cost, and 35% increase in customer retention with the help of integration initiatives.
Ways to integrate applications
API (Application Programming Interface) is the most common tool for application integration. It uses a common code language to specify functionality, set protocols, and synchronously transfer data.
Other API-less ways of integration include:
- Webhooks are used to link web applications and are event-based rather than request-based. Unlike APIs, they are not code-based. Instead, they have programmable modules within web applications.
- ISC (Integrated Service Component) creates a bridge between on-premises tools like directories and asset management tools, without the need for file imports.
- Orchestration offers the most automated integration option. It refers to the process of automating multiple systems and services together.
Each of these integration options comes with its own set of pros and cons, and integrates at various levels (data, user-interface/presentation, application/systems, and method/business process). But is the integration exercise as cost-effective as it is efficient?
Take the case of claims processing. Not having an integrated platform leads to asynchronous data transfer, resulting in outdated information. On the other hand, synchronous data transfer using API will result in huge costs.
Companies spend huge amounts of money on application integration to mitigate the drawbacks of disparate software applications. In 2020, an estimated $3.69 trillion was spent on IT, out of which a big slice (39%) was spent on software and integration.
According to PwC, 45% of work activities can be automated, which translates to a cost saving of $2 trillion in global workforce.
An unconventional approach
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) connects applications by automating data transfer among them. This is an unconventional use of RPA.
RPA is more cost effective than API since it automates data integration at the presentation layer instead of data layer, and offers both unattended and attended automation options.
Bring RPA and enjoy the many benefits it offers — increased efficiency and speed, reduced costs without compromise in quality, hyper-productivity, flexibility, and agility.*
* For organizations on the digital transformation journey, agility is key in responding to a rapidly changing technology and business landscape. Now more than ever, it is crucial to deliver and exceed on organizational expectations with a robust digital mindset backed by innovation. Enabling businesses to sense, learn, respond, and evolve like a living organism, will be imperative for business excellence going forward. A comprehensive, yet modular suite of services is doing exactly that. Equipping organizations with intuitive decision-making automatically at scale, actionable insights based on real-time solutions, anytime/anywhere experience, and in-depth data visibility across functions leading to hyper-productivity, Live Enterprise is building connected organizations that are innovating collaboratively for the future.