Keeping up with disruptors through hybrid integration

In the last ten years, technology has completely changed the modern enterprise

What’s more, it’s led to the rise of a new type of company pushing the boundaries of what’s possible – think Netflix and Uber.

These companies have based their offerings around rising consumer expectations, tailoring their services to provide seamless experiences. 

These companies have transformed the landscape – the message to the rest of the market? Innovate or risk falling behind. One of the reasons these agile start-ups can drive such success comes down to their data, which is stacked exclusively in the cloud meaning they can focus on the here and the now. Meanwhile, the traditional players have collated large volumes of information over the years which is spread disparately, whether it’s at the edge or on-premise. Building a company fit for the 21st century requires a holistic view of the business, presenting companies with unique challenges in that there is a need to integrate all of this disparate information.

And so, in the context of today’s landscape, how can the established players give the disruptors a run for their money?

Staying ahead of the curve

For consumers of the digital era, experience is everything. They expect newfound convenience and flexibility and will have no problem looking elsewhere if this cannot be provided. This begs the question: how can the traditional players hope to keep up if this is the case?

However, things aren’t as complex as they seem. One reason these new companies can drive such positive results comes down to the fact there is no reliance on legacy databases, and they can take advantage of existing third-party systems. For example, Citymapper leverages open data from the Transport of London to retrieve journey information and provide real-time visibility over transport schedules, allowing customers to make the best choice of journey based on timings. Meanwhile, Uber uses Google’s APIs to run their mapping software and match customers with the drivers closest to them. From there, the data is stored and used to predict supply and demand, as well as set fares. 

In both cases, these services have been built on existing integrations, meaning they don’t run into the same problems as many of the established players. On the other hand, heritage companies rely on systems that they have created over the years which are stored and siloed across multiple data sources, meaning innovation is blocked as a result. Ultimately, organisations must integrate if they are to drive innovation – after all, why reinvent the wheel?

Hybrid integration for greater efficiency

We’re living in a period where information is key, and where companies in every industry are inundated with data from all sides. And this is only set to rise, with IDC predicting that the global datasphere will grow from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes by 2025. In terms of how this is stored, many organisations have initiated cloud-first policies, meaning no new data should be stored in their data centres. The reasons for this drive to the cloud are numerous given the number of business benefits. For example, the cloud provides unlimited storage and accessibility from anywhere in the world. 

While some companies already do everything in the cloud, the vast quantities of data collated by heritage organisations is stored across multiple data sources. It is therefore likely that these organisations will always have some systems stacked in heritage servers as a result of the costs involved, the data’s complexity and the inability to replicate it in the cloud. 

This means there is a need to integrate data and applications stored on-premise, in the cloud and between the two. This is where hybrid integration comes into play. It removes the need to relocate legacy information from on-premise sites and creates new systems to enhance efficiencies.

Overcoming integration challenges 

Clearly, hybrid integration must be on the agenda for established companies if they are to drive success in the digital world. But for all the benefits, there is no shortage of challenges that organisations must overcome when it comes to hybrid integration.

For a start, connecting existing systems with cloud applications is highly complex for established companies, whose applications are spread disparately. For example, these companies have data stored on-premise, in SaaS applications and are sharing data and documents with partner organisations. With the majority of integration platforms lacking the capabilities to integrate all of these sources, companies must ensure they invest in solutions which can connect their existing applications to a cloud landscape. 

Elsewhere, the proliferation of connected devices brings new challenges in itself. With organisations estimated to manage over 50 billion devices by 2020, businesses must ensure their integration technologies can link IoT devices directly with business applications and the workflows they connect. What’s more, these technologies need to be able to quickly connect devices over any network and provide device conditioning, real-time analytics and dashboards.

Integration equals innovation

Hybrid integration offers businesses with a whole host of opportunities by helping them to connect data with applications in the cloud. Companies which fail to keep up risk falling behind as fast-growing, agile start-ups take advantage of existing APIs to improve and adapt their services in response to customer demands.

Many heritage companies realise that they need to innovate if they are to keep up with the competition. A main concern for these businesses is the long-term issues and how they will overcome their integration challenges in the years to come. The whole game has changed and companies that adapt quickly can avoid being disrupted by nimble competitors. By implementing hybrid integration technologies, companies are able to address complex issues and overcome the challenges of the digital era. 

About the Author

Sue Cameron, Head of Integration at Software AG. Software AG offers Freedom as a Service. We reimagine integration, spark business transformation and enable fast innovation on the Internet of Things so you can pioneer differentiating business models. We give you the freedom to connect and integrate any technology—from app to edge. We help you free data from silos so it’s shareable, usable and powerful—enabling you to make the best decisions and unlock entirely new possibilities for growth. Software AG has more than 4,700 employees.