Systems Integration. Nothing says, “I don’t want to read this blog post” like starting it with those two words, so let me give this a try. We eluded to this topic when we discussed Software Built for a Function as well as All-in-one software. So, what are we talking about? Systems Integration is the ability for us to pass information between one or more software applications or mobile apps (iOS or Android). It can be achieved in several ways, but the most common are either via API (Application Programming Interface) or multiple direct database connections using Big Data Platforms.
Let’s handle the techy acronym first. An API is simply a way for a piece of software to communicate with another piece of software either one-way (read-only), or bi-directionally (read-write). The API has become the workhorse of today’s software and will typically work well in most situations. It is best to find software that has widely supported APIs built into it. As we talked about in Software Built for a Function, Quickbooks is a good example of a widely-supported API. If I was looking for Sales software, for example, I’d want to make sure it supported the Quickbooks API — and would be quite likely to find such software as it is in their best interest to integrate with Quickbooks.
Direct database connections are another way that we can achieve integration between disparate pieces of software. Solutions from the likes of Hadoop and Pentaho allow for information to cross between systems and reveal insights into your business metrics. Typically, these are deployed for larger organizations, but can be utilized in smaller organizations that have a lot of disparate systems. While they too can be costly, you may find that the insights gained are well worth the investment.
Systems Integration helps bridge the various pieces of software that you use. The more you look at a software’s capabilities up front, the more you will be able to determine these integrations. If you already have your software established, you may find some solace in a Big Data solution that lets you bridge data points together.