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Wednesday, 06 February 2008 11:46

Integration still a stumbling block

As much as one quarter of the cost of new application implementation may come from the need for integration with existing applications, and skill  shortages are hampering that process.

These are among the conclusions drawn from the latest in a series of annual surveys conducted in Australia by InterSystems Corporation, the company behind the Ensemble integration software.

The 2007 survey was carried out at two CIO summit meetings held in Queensland and New South Wales during August, with a majority of respondents representing large organisations, typically running large ERP systems and with more than 1000 computer-using employees.

Other findings include only one-third of respondents rating their organisation's ability to aggregate data from several applications as 'good' or 'very good' (down slightly from last year); standardisation on integration technologies and techniques within organisations is improving, and while there has been an improvement in successful completion rates for these projects, the proportion completed on time remains around 50 percent.

According to Tebbutt, "there hasn't been any real correlation" between the integration difficulties reported by respondents and the major applications they run. Nor was there any relationship with the size of the organisation or the industry in which it operates.

Even though some organisations have invested heavily in an EAI architecture, a proportion of those report that connecting applications is still not easy and the task requires skilled and experienced staff. "Infrastructure doesn't usually provide agility," Tebbutt observed.

Most organisations have the data they need to run their businesses, but much of it is still siloed. The challenge is still in hooking things together to present the relevant information on one page or screen to make decision-making easier, or to apply business rules to further automate processes and free up people's time for their real jobs such as interacting with customers.

Business users have become disenfranchised from their data, and need someone else to generate the reports they need or to connect the applications they use, he suggests.

While integration technologies obviously help connect disparate applications, they are not solutions in themselves, as even widely adopted examples such as Web Services still require skilled people to make everything work together.

Not surprisingly, InterSystems thinks it has the answer - Ensemble allows the creation of composite applications with automatic code generation from business processes, and drawing data from multiple applications and sources.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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