Business Management

Margaret Dawson (Global) - IT and Business Benefits of Cloud-Based Integration, Part II

When we last talked about cloud-based integration we covered the first two IT and business benefits below. Now let's dive into the rest:

Faster time-to-market

There is an increasing customer force mentality known as " the power of now." Customers want to receive products and services quickly, and with less effort. This is somewhat related to the overall trend of consumerization in business technology; as business people want the same experience at work as when they are shopping or researching online at home. This requires significant improvements in business agility and in the ability to deliver products more efficiently to meet fast-moving markets. To achieve this, companies must work closer than ever with suppliers, distributors, retailers and partners.

Cloud-based business integration enables real-time collaboration and the exchange of information surrounding logistics, parts, designs, inventory, customer order trends, procurement and other critical processes. Being able to receive messages in a matter of hours versus days, or weeks, can make the difference between getting the deal or not.

Additionally, with an on-demand integration solution, companies can quickly and easily increase or decrease connections, transactions or the number of companies in their integration community - and then scale back up when business requires it. One of the greatest benefits of cloud solutions is the ability to start small and expand as needed.

Reduced costs and capital expenditures

Traditional integration solutions can be costly, and often require a specialized and expensive skill set from workers, often prone to break at the slightest change in format or schema. Furthermore, IT departments are usually under pressure to improve operations and help drive greater revenue or business impact, but rarely are given additional resources to do so.

Integrating existing systems through cloud-based integration helps companies avoid or delay the costs of replacing infrastructure. SaaS subscription pricing models allow funds for integration to be moved from the capital budget to the operating budget, making integration easier to fit into IT budgets, and enabling IT to spend capital on other more capex-intensive projects.

Also some of the greatest gains in operational efficiency come from transitioning manual processes to automated ones, which tend to reduce costs and improve accuracy. With cloud-based integration, fewer people need to manage connections and transactions, enabling frictionless system-to-system business processes automation.

Extended investments in legacy applications and systems

Integration can extend the life of legacy assets by enabling all members in the integration community to work from existing systems. Many companies have invested thousands or millions of dollars in ERP systems, and want to optimize these investments and somehow have all information flowing directly in and out of the system in the native format. With cloud-based solutions, there is complete interoperability of formats and protocols, no "rip and replace" required, and minimal to no software or hardware required behind the firewall. This is a great way to upgrade business processes or improve efficiencies without having to invest heavily in solutions or migrate processes to a new system. This interoperability and extension of systems is a critical reason many companies are turning to cloud-based integration solutions.

Aligns IT with business goals

Oftentimes, it is the line of business that discovers the need for improved integration, such as the logistics, procurement or e-Commerce manager, where there is a clear pain and a need to improve processes. By working with the business on integration challenges and using cloud-based solutions to manage it, companies can quickly achieve business impact without negatively impacting IT budgets or goals.

These are some of the top ways companies can see measureable IT and business benefits from a SaaS-based integration solution, many of which are realized in a matter of weeks or a few months. A cloud-based integration solution can also help remove the challenge of traditional business integration methods while delivering substantial business and IT value.

Beyond the transaction, it can provide visibility into business processes, partner operations and customer needs. Benefits are realized across an entire organization, from business units to IT to the CIO, providing predictable costs, greater operational efficiency, higher margins and revenues, and automated business processes. For these reasons and others, business-to-business integration should be a key element of consideration for any company's overall strategy.

By Margaret Dawson, VP Product Management, Hubspan



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Glyn Bowden (Global) - The ABCs of Big Data »


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