Why interoperability and integration will power true enterprise innovation

interoperability

How often have we engaged in a truly innovative process that leaves us in no doubt that we have entered a new era? Not very often I’d wager, especially on a daily basis. If we look at how business services are designed, there’s a massive disconnect between what happens at the consumer facing front-end and the servicing back-end.

  • A consumer sees an apartment they’d like to buy. They reach for their mobile device and decide to try the new mobile mortgage application process. They proceed through the steps only to be asked to print, sign and send in the form.
  • You need to submit your expense claim. You complete the form online, which requires to be authorized by your boss. Only, when they’ve done this you’re then notified by email to print off the form and post it in with paper receipts stuck to a sheet to be manually scanned in at the office.

Everywhere you look there are broken processes and promises. The disconnected enterprise is all very apparent and so is the lack of true innovation.

Connected Trends, Disconnected

Look at the graphic at the top of the article. I chose this on purpose because it typically represents how we view integration: a collection of jigsaw pieces that must fit together. Forrester talks of interoperability, integration brokers and interconnection, building and making use of component and business service APIs, and the ever present enterprise message bus, but we are far from delivering a truly connected enterprise. If you followed a consumer process from start to finish you would be amazed at just how many touch points occurred from a system perspective, how many times data is passed from one service to another, and the data transformation needed to make it fit for purpose for each application before moving on.

Look at what’s shaping the enterprise industry markets today.  We have:

  • Cloud
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Big and In-Memory Data
  • BYOD
  • Business Applications

On their own, they are powerful propositions from Business to Consumer, but they lack a cohesion and ability to work together. There is little interoperability, no single defining protocol that both hardware and software vendors have signed up to to ease a lot of enterprise pain and failed customer expectation. So what’s the big problem here and why can’t we learn from other industries ?

Standards, Standards, Standards

Take a look at the digital home market:

2The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) was founded in 2003 by a collection of global companies with a vision to easily connect and enjoy photos, music and video among networked consumer electronics, PC and mobile devices.

In order to achieve the vision of a digitally connected home, DLNA published industry design guidelines that allows OEMs to be involved in a networked device market, leading to “more innovation, simplicity and value for consumers.” According to the Alliance, this ultimately meant that industry collaboration and standards-based interoperability produced compelling products.

Where the home has Sony, Philips and Pioneer, the enterprise has SAP, IBM, and Software AG.

All these trends, services and processes are being designed and delivered in isolation and true integration is about bringing it all together in a way similar to DNLA.

From marketing and social media interaction through to business applications and cloud-based event services managing big data, integration and interoperability will soon be the very DNA and catalyst of enterprise innovation. And according to the DNLA alliance, it will lead to more innovation, simplicity and value for consumers.

Isn’t that what it’s all about after all ?

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One response to “Why interoperability and integration will power true enterprise innovation

  1. As always – great insight and commentary (I’m not paid to say that). A question I always ask myself is how come we as an industry (and the industries we enable) haven’t done this already? The technology claims to be there – be it SOA, web services, REST etc etc. We still haven’t got to the point where it is easy enough to make the processes connect and interoperate in a way that makes it trivial. 5 years ago we were talking about BPM & SOA together was going to solve this but it doesn’t feel like we’ve matured in those 5 years. When I get a new phone and set it up – I give it my provider, my email address and password – 30 seconds later I’ve got my email. Its never going to be *that* simple for enterprise IT but isn’t it something we should aspire to. If interoperability was close to that straightforward – maybe we’d see BPM fulfill more of its promise?

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