Category Archives: Integration Trends and Issues

Integration Solution Must-Haves: Ease of Use

This blog post is part of an ongoing series encompassing the top must-haves when selecting an integrated solution.

The term “ease-of-use” undoubtedly carries a different meaning today than it did even a decade ago. Think smartphones and tablets for example. A simple tap of a button almost instantaneously delivers the application and content we desire – no training required.

While integration software may lag a bit behind our smartphones, it is still possible to implement intuitive and easy-to-use solutions that get the job done quickly and with minimal effort. You simply have to be mindful and do your homework before selecting a solution.

Integration software, particularly programs that meet very complex requirements, can appear overwhelming at first. And while you can begin using integration software without training, a bit of online or phone-based training can pay dividends as there are proper ways to navigate and leverage tools more effectively and efficiently. Continue reading

Integration Solution Must-Haves: Expandability & Scalability

This blog post is part of an ongoing series encompassing the top must-haves when selecting an integrated solution.

One thing that’s fairly certain about your integration needs – they are likely to change over time. And to get the most of any integration solution, it’s smart to factor in how your solution handles scalability and function expansion before making an initial purchase. For example, some vendors include all functions in a single model, requiring you to pay for the entire feature set even if you don’t plan to use all of them. Others approach things in a more modular fashion, with modules that allow you to ”pay as you go”, turning on feature modules when you need them. This can save you significant capital dollars at install time.

Additionally, while most companies may start small, it’s safe to say that don’t plan to stay startup sized forever. This is where scalability comes into play. It’s important to purchase integration software that is able to grow with you as your company expands capabilities for different lines of business, as well as adding integration across databases, applications and trading partners.

Continue reading

The Real Impact Data Transformation Has on Your Business

We all know that companies need data integration in order to drive their business. However with each new integration, companies are seeing an increase in the number of data formats required to support the business. When IT cannot support a data format, it risks becoming a roadblock to multiple business processes. The key to unlocking these roadblocks is through data transformation.

The benefits of data transformation extend throughout the entire business – from complying to new customer data requirements, to connecting internal disparate systems that need to share data in order to drive business operations. Many companies that utilize data transformation are manually building and customizing them with each new trading partner request, or new application implementation. With so many custom-coded processes built over time, the risk of errors increase due to poor maintenance, changing requirements, or lack of visibility. If even one data transformation process fails, it could cause a ripple-effect that slows down other business processes. As a result, Programmers will have to take time to troubleshoot the problem, then most likely add more customization to fix it.


We’ve identified some key benefits data transformation has on your business, then reviewed possible risks associated with custom-coding. Now let’s take a look at how the EXTOL Business Integrator (EBI) handles data transformation without the risk.

Continue reading

Healthy Processes Simplify Change

What causes a company to change? It could be something as large as a merger or acquisition, or as small as deciding to use less paper around the office. Sometimes change can be scary, in part because it tends to shine a light on the dysfunctional processes within the company.

For example, when planning for change, a company might notice that they have been following a process that no longer is relevant or efficient. Too often a process is accepted, even if it is a dysfunctional one, which ultimately impacts the bottom line. If companies are not evaluating their operational processes on a constant basis, adapting to change will become more difficult.

Establishing regular evaluations of business processes will give more control over operations and help reduce the “fear factor” of having to make a bad decision while adapting to change. That said, evaluating processes requires having complete visibility to them. To do this, companies who have fully integrated their systems and application data will be able to see where their workflow bottlenecks or drop-offs are.

With a single integration tool connecting the entire organization, any department can view the health of operational processes. Automated notices can be set up to alert specific people of process disruptions, while dashboard views and on-demand reports can be called up by anyone, from the IT Manager to the CFO. Looking at data moving through the entire organization gives companies a global view over whether invoices were received, bids were answered on time, or even to check against a chargeback claim.

Whether companies strategically change for growth, or reactively change from market pressure, evaluating current process efficiencies will be at the top of the change plan. Utilizing integration to proactively maintain healthy processes will not only keep the pain of adapting to change at a minimum, it will certainly help companies achieve growth much faster.