Author Archives: Jim OLeary

Death by 1,000 Integration Tools

Unlike traditional on-premise software, the economics of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) allow for profitable delivery of narrow, highly-specialized applications. As a result, the average SaaS application user consumes more applications than an average user of on-premise software. GetApp currently tracks over 5800 business apps and estimates that there are around 10,000 SaaS vendors, worldwide. And according to Intermedia, the average small-to-medium business uses more than 14 applications, from a variety of vendors.

Few applications, SaaS or otherwise, function as closed systems. So it’s no surprise that the explosion of SaaS applications has produced an aftershock of tools for integrating with external (cloud and on-premise) data and applications. SaaS leaders like Salesforce.com and NetSuite support ecosystems with tens or hundreds of integration options. But even the smallest SaaS application vendors offer one or two integration options. Continue reading

Justifying EDI Change in Your Business

If there’s one thing IT leaders understand, it’s change.  Business changes are a given, and almost no one in IT is working with the same set of technologies they were using five years ago, much less ten or fifteen years ago.  Managing change is a core IT skill.

Even changes that are essential to business operations must compete for budget dollars, however.  And the vast majority of IT spending goes to maintaining existing systems.  That means investments in new IT capabilities and improvements must compete for a small slice of the IT budget.  And spending money in one area means not spending it in another. Continue reading

Charting Your EDI Modernization Strategy

EDI as we know it today is very different from what it was 10 or 15 years ago, when many companies made their last EDI technology investments.  Today’s businesses face a broader range of EDI requirements, including the ability to support proprietary document interchanges, near real-time transaction response, and web services.

When we talk with prospective customers about how they cope with new EDI integration requirements, the answers boil down to these five approaches: Continue reading

The Case for Hybrid Mapping Strategies

I’ve written elsewhere about how important data transformation mapping is to all kinds of e-business integration, and how mapping dominates integration lifecycle costs, overall.  Mapping is fundamental to Business-to-Business (B2B) integration (e.g., using EDI), application integration, data integration, and many cloud application and service integration cases, as well.

Although drag-and-drop mapping is a data transformation mapping mainstay, assisted (“automated”) mapping, map reuse, and other strategies can be far more efficient and cost-effective, under the right circumstances.  But IT professionals and project leaders seeking more efficient ways to create and maintain transformation maps face a conundrum – no single mapping strategy works in all cases. Continue reading

Is Data Mapping a Solved Problem?

Many IT professionals believe that data transformation and mapping are “solved problems”.  After all, mapping tools have been around for over 20 years, and thousands of IT organizations use them in integration projects every day.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, right?

What belies that attitude are the missed integration project deadlines, runtime exceptions, customer chargebacks, vendor scorecard deductions and other business problems that can be traced to data transformation mapping practices.  Mapping is also the single most costly integration activity, accounting for up to 75% of some integration project costs.  Yet few project teams focus attention on ways to improve mapping efficiency and accuracy. Continue reading