When your organisation outgrows point-to-point integration
Point-to-point integration is a common but outdated approach for when businesses acquire or introduce additional software to their legacy IT system estate. Integrating each software application requires each having its own connection that enables it to communicate with other systems and business applications.
Typically, it involves the use of custom code to connect two pieces of software together. This works when a business has a handful of different processes, such as accounting inventory, e-marketing and e-commerce. But point-to-point integration can often get out of hand as the company builds up a spaghetti junction of tightly coupled systems and a nexus of complex integrations.
As each new application is added, code is required for each integration. That quickly becomes a tangle of different interfaces all requiring coding to connect them to each other. Whenever there is a new software version release, every single point needs retesting, which can often require redevelopment of the point-to-point integrations. This starts taking up a lot of time for an internal IT team, which can quickly find itself over-stretched. If it is a third party IT services provider, time spent doing P2P integration costs money, which could be better invested.
But, if it ain’t broke, as the saying goes.
What, then, if your organisation has new lines or services in the pipeline that need rolling out. Maybe your business plan includes launching on a new online third-party marketing platform as a way to promote your products or services to a new audience or wider customer base. Maybe you want to transact with customers in a different way, or maybe you want to digitise more aspects of the business to eliminate paper and be more efficient. Can you really afford the time point-to-point integration requires?
Remember, point-to-point integration worked when you weren’t running so much different software and applications. Things are different now. It’s perfectly ok to outgrow point-to-point integration approaches.
Still need convincing? Point-to-point integration drawbacks arise as you aim to realise your ambitions to run a more agile and responsive technology-enabled connected business. These can include siloes between different software used by the company’s teams or departments, resulting in duplication of information that staff may have to re-enter into their own department’s systems manually, increasing potential for error.
Point-to-point integration also creates an increasingly unreliable overall IT system architecture. As more and more software applications are added and integrated with each other, you can forget an isolated incident if something goes wrong. Security vulnerabilities need to be considered too, as risks can arise whenever a software update occurs which may be incompatible with interconnections between applications and systems.
When you start to look at it like this point-to-point integration becomes the drag on your business’s ambitions.
Many organisations literally grow up with point-to-point integration, so the task of what to replace it with can be daunting. But, remember outgrowing point-to-point integration is a strong sign that your organisation may benefit from a more strategic vision about technology-enabled growth, which will influence your integration approach going forward.
Chief Executive Officer