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The Future of Your Business Depends on Enterprise Application Integration

What is the secret to success in today’s business environment? It presents an oxymoron to many companies; not only must you be innovative and agile to fend off competitors, but because the costs of market entry are so low, you have to be efficient and keep a lid on costs. For the first time in history, businesses are having to be both low-cost operators and leading innovators in their fields. There is a solution to this conundrum, and it is enterprise application integration.

It seems, perhaps, like an unexpected solution to the problem, but enterprise application integration represents an important rethink about how companies operate. Your company must have adaptability, speed, and must be able introducing new products with a short cycle. You have to be far more in touch with markets to react quickly and have the courage to cannibalize products based on customer needs. 

It also means maintaining a laser-like focus on what is actually important to your business. What do you do well - better than anyone else? How can you leverage your talents in new and innovative ways? What can be outsourced to best-of-breed SaaS and cloud applications? And how can web and mobile applications be used to make what you’re good at already better? The key to making this happen is the ability to exchange data across applications and composable services. The cloud will become more usable if we can use data again and again. APIs to build applications quickly and use them over and over again. 

These are the benefits that enterprise integration can bring you. EAI is becoming increasingly important to the business because of the growth of cloud, the abundance of open APIs, the proliferation of data, and the emergence of IoT. Connection was important 5 years ago, but today everything is digital and everything connects to everything. An enterprise application integration strategy is now a business necessity. 

Where Enterprise Application Integration is Going

The potential of enterprise integration for creating competitive advantage, services and products, and innovations is limitless. We can now focus on taking siloed assets within an enterprise and integrate them with resources outside the enterprise, offering new capabilities and experiences unimaginable before. This new era of connectivity links systems, data and applications with those of partners, suppliers, customers and even employees—and the result is a new breed of enterprise - one that can scale globally, innovate quickly, and anticipate what its customers, employees and partners want almost at the speed of thought.

It all sounds terrific, but then actual execution has to occur. The technologies underlying this type of connected enterprise have enabled companies to engage with their stakeholders in new and innovative ways, but they have also dramatically increased the number of endpoints to connect to, particularly notably SaaS, mobile and IoT. Where once an organization may only have had to consider its internal systems, it must now consider an exponentially larger set of endpoints both inside and outside the enterprise. For example, financial payment transactions previously carried out by checks, are now transacted by an expanded set of channels, including telephone, online and mobile banking.

In addition, these systems change much more frequently.  For example, the database schema of a core banking system may change only on an annual basis, but the requirements of the online and mobile banking applications connecting to those systems may change weekly, daily or even hourly. It is this speed of innovation that is a defining characteristic of digital transformation and IT must strive to enable rather than hinder such change. IT leaders must meet two seemingly contradictory goals; they need to ensure stability and control over core systems of record, while enabling innovation and rapid iteration of the applications that access those systems of record.             

Solving the Enterprise Integration Challenge

Enterprise Application Integration Challenge

The core technology trend that will help solve this conundrum is the API, which enables organizations to provide their ecosystems with standardized access to data and application functionality. When APIs can be more easily aggregated and delivered to developers on demand, the move to the new connected enterprise – an enterprise that lives outside its own four walls – can accelerate.

APIs enable modern connectivity both inside and outside the business. Inside the organization, people leverage APIs at the team level, while external to the organization, customers and partners can mix and match APIs from different places, composing and recomposing capabilities and information at will. APIs must be reusable and modular, and it goes without saying that nonfunctional requirements like compliance and security must be bulletproof. All of these requirements depend upon a lightweight, Web-centric architecture.

But it must be noted that the integration application must be more than just an API; the API can only serve as a presentation layer on top of a set of orchestration and connectivity flows. This orchestration and connectivity is critical: without it, API to API connectivity is simply another means of building out point-to-point integration.  Our suggested approach to EAI is API-led connectivity. API-led connectivity is an approach that defines methods for connecting and exposing your assets. The approach shifts the way IT operates and promotes decentralized access to data and capabilities while allowing for centralized governance.                     
API-led connectivity calls for a distinct ‘connectivity building block’ that encapsulates three distinct components:

  • Interface: Presentation of data in a governed and secured form via an API
  • Orchestration: Application of logic to that data, such as transformation and enrichment
  • Connectivity: Access to source data, whether from physical systems, or from external services 

Approaching enterprise integration in this way is a change of IT operating model, but it enables the organization to capitalize on the opportunities of digital transformation. If you can find a way to simplify integration and make it faster, you can increase innovation. You can design new services that draw on data from a broader range of sources, you can deploy new services sooner than your competitors, you can re-architect the customer experience, you can make changes to apps and services without re-coding for thousands of devices, and you can take advantage of new business opportunities. Your business can focus on innovating, iterating and differentiating rather than endlessly fixing code.

As MuleSoft’s founder, Ross Mason, says, more connectivity always leads to more innovation. Find out what API-led connectivity can do for your business with Anypoint Platform, the world’s most widely used enterprise application integration platform