App Integration

Introduction

Most of the applications we interact with are highly specialized in the functions they perform. Due to which we end up using several different applications for different purposes within an organization.

S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. understands that although one would prefer to perform all their work in one single application, it is rarely feasible to do so. This strategy of using multiple applications does help us in achieving all our various tasks, however, it ends up creating some complications for us as well.

These complications primarily include managing the different applications along with the data stored in them. This is where application integration comes into play.

Benefits of Application Integration

S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. aims to assist their clients in managing, maintaining and updating your applications through application integration. Not only that, but by virtue of application integration it is also ensured that the data stored in various applications is not duplicated or redundant. By creating a network for application integration we allow the applications to communicate with each other and function in an effective and efficient manner.

Application integration assists in smooth movement of data from one application to another in a scheduled manner. This means that you no longer need to enter data again and again in different applications, rather you add data once and the rest is taken care of automatically by application integration. Doing so, the possibility of human error is reduced, the need for human intervention is minimized and finally consistency is achieved. Data is now synchronized among all applications ensuring accuracy.

A special use case of application integration is that many enterprises use legacy systems and after a passage of time the need arises to move data to a new system. S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. takes care of such needs of their clients. Application integration is mostly done at an enterprise level where it is referred to as Enterprise Application Integration or EAI.

Application integration forms a bridge between heterogeneous applications in organizations. Even if the applications that your organization uses were not originally intended to communicate with each other, our company can configure them to do so with application integration. This provides you the liberty to choose applications that best suit your needs irrespective of the vendor or technology used and without worrying about complex details such as whether the applications you have purchased communicate with the rest of your applications by default or not. This allows our clients to focus more of their attention on their business goals instead of worrying about tedious details such ensuring connectivity among applications.

S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. ensures that data silos are not created in the clients work and data owned by an entity is fully accessible to other entities. The company makes sure that with the increase in quantity and diversity of data, the data silos do not grow and a data overload can be avoided.

Application integration also enables the company’s clients to utilize cloud based solutions for their businesses as it provides seamless connectivity between the cloud-based solutions and the on premise architecture. This increases the scope of the client’s business and enables them to perform a larger set of functions.

Factors that led to Emergence of Application Integration

There are various reasons which ultimately led to the emergence of application integration. The first and foremost factor behind the creation of application integration is the rise in the number of mergers and acquisitions taking place in the corporate world. For a merger or acquisition to be successful it is imperative that the IT infrastructure is capable of supporting dissimilar applications and allows them to work together as a single system. Application integration is the solution to this requirement as it allows rapid integration. S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. ensures that their clients freely move towards mergers and acquisitions knowing that their combined IT infrastructure, irrespective of its heterogeneous nature, will be able to work together and in collaboration with each other.

The next factor that contributed to the rise in popularity of application integration is electronic business. Recently, there has been a surge in e-businesses which meant that people in different geographical locations were working together on the same project. Application integration helps in this constraint by allowing the businesses by providing them an integrated supply chain over the internet. This means that the suppliers, consumers and business partners could be present in different areas but still would be able to collaborate and have the same view of the data.

Industry regulation laws also encouraged the use of application integration. Businesses are now required to share information and allow market access. This means that information needs to flow transparently into and out of the IT infrastructure. Application integration ensures this by forming a network between the concerned applications and providing a seamless flow of information between them. Another requirement of businesses is business process automation. This means that new products and services need to be integrated with the already existing infrastructure. This too is taken care of by application integration and it improves the efficiency of the organization. Furthermore, the operating costs are also reduced and customer services are kept up to the mark.

S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd helps their clients move towards a zero latency enterprise model which aims to reduce delays to a minimum, allowing organizations to change business rules in real time and work on new market opportunities. Prior to application integration, many of the company’s clients had to manually reconfigure their applications and the connections between them if such a scenario arose where they had to change their business rules. This would lead to delays, errors and inconsistencies which ultimately meant that the organization was lagging behind their competitors. After working with S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd, these companies meet the changing demands of their customers and accelerate their response strategy.

The business process lifecycle has also been reduced significantly in the past couple of years. The company understands that the clients need to align their business systems with the business goals in a reduced time. The business processes are evolving continuously which translates to the addition of new methods and data. These new methods and data need to be integrated with the existing setup in real time. Here application integration takes care of this problem by integrating different applications in a minimum amount of time.

Finally, the explosion of the internet means that there is a rise in the demand for new user-friendly applications. However, these new applications need to be configured with the legacy back end systems. This feature is again offered by application integration as it is capable of integrating the front end with the backend applications.

Business Advantages of Application Integration

If there are delays in carrying out operations in an organization, that translates into slower return on investment for that particular business. Application integration helps the clients of S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. to speed up their tasks by providing a seamless connection between applications. This reduces the need to perform tedious manual tasks that prove to be a hurdle in a company’s workflow. With the help of application integration, clients can launch their business quickly and get a head start above other competitor companies. These clients can also view their data from anywhere in the world and also modify it.

Application integration offers process automation and ready to use templates. These speed up the workflow of an enterprise. This is also done by the help of concurrent processing, which means that several processes are running simultaneously, instead of one process running at a time and the rest of the processes waiting for their turn. Concurrent processing means that businesses can take care of several orders at the same time, which translates to higher profits.

Furthermore, application integration also aids in easier troubleshooting and isolating the fault by determining which application is acting in an impaired manner This is ensured by the increased visibility offered by application integration. Organizations are able to view and track the flow of data as it passes through various applications. So whenever something goes wrong, organizations are able to act quickly.

With application integration, S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. offers scalability which means that clients can use as many applications as required by the business and still be able to reap the benefits offered by application integration. This also means that whenever organizations start to use a new application they need not start from scratch when it comes to application connectivity, rather they benefit from the rapid scalability offered by application integration.

Multiple Ways Application Integration Benefits Clients

Over the years, the clients of S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. have understood how they can take help from application integration in many of their departments i.e. supply chain management, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management, to name a few. Enterprise resource planning is a hub for all the various business activities in an organization. If we integrate enterprise resource planning with supporting applications, the organization will be able to not only streamline but also automate the business processes, most of which are mission critical. These mission critical business processes include functions of supply chain, processing of payments and tracking sales leads. Similarly, the clients customer relationship management can also benefit from application integration by increasing the productivity and efficiency of various functions performed in the domain of customer relationship management. These functions typically include customer support features, tracking sales, optimizing marketing and improving product development.

An easier alternative that comes to mind when dealing with the issue of application integration is manually configuring point to point interactions between applications. However, with experience, the company understands that this is not scalable at all. When the number of applications increases the manual interactions also increases and managing these interactions is a very daunting task. Furthermore, there are many factors that need to be considered when manually configuring applications connectivity. These factors include taking care of error handling, managing authentication protocols and ensuring performance optimization.

This is why companies come to S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. for application integration as it takes care of all these factors automatically leading to higher productivity. Therefore, the best practice followed by leading organizations and what the company recommends as well is using application integration instead of manual interactions to deal with the problem of making applications communicate with each other. Application Integration is mostly done through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Another common mechanism to implement application integration is the use of middleware.

Choosing the Best Approach for Clients

There are 3 common approaches that S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. uses with regards to application integration. Firstly, the company offers on premise application integration. This approach is used for the proprietary tools that are operating behind the clients firewall or in a private cloud. In this method, the applications are integrated by custom coding them all together.

Secondly, the company has the SaaS (Software as a Service) application integration. In the present day, companies have started to rely on numerous SaaS applications to meet their requirements. However, they too need to be integrated with the enterprise architecture to avoid the creation of data silos. To implement SaaS application integration APIs are used.

Lastly, the company offers application to application integration. This sort of integration could be required if the client wants to integrate their e-commerce data workflows with their ERP processes. This approach gives rise to automation and thereby increases efficiency. Furthermore, it eliminates the need for manual data intervention.

Overcoming Challenges

With the increase in the number of applications used by organizations it has become more difficult for the organizations to manage them. Even after the inception of application integration, the challenges for clients are not eliminated altogether, as there are issues that come with application integration if the right solution is not chosen; one that best suits the client’s requirements.

To cater to these issues, S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. conducts an in depth meeting with the clients before starting any sort of work. There are various approaches to implementing application integration and within each of these approaches are multiple solutions. The company makes sure that they determine which solution and approach is best suited for the client and take that path for their clients.

Another challenge faced by companies is due to the limitation of certain application integration solutions which do not support integration with SaaS and other cloud based services. This leads to creation of application silos, which refers to applications configured individually and outside the core of an enterprise. This means that the application data and any insights offered by that application data are no longer accessible to the enterprise. S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. ensures that they refrain from any application integration solution that could become problematic in the long run.

It is fair to say that application integration can be a cumbersome process. Not only is it time consuming but it also requires a special skill set to be able to do so. The developers at S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. make sure that the client does not have to go through any such issues and does the grunt work themselves. Issues that usually surface and the developers pay heed to are transaction errors and slowing down of data flows which in turn lead to poor partner relationships and ultimately become a hindrance in the growth of the business.

Data Integration and Application Integration

Data integration and application integration are two sister concepts which is why a lot of people have a tough time separating the two. Most people even use these terms interchangeably. However, in reality there are distinct differences between the two. To understand application integration, it is important to distinguish it from data integration. The basic difference between the two is that data integration simply refers to collection of data from various sources at a single point which can be viewed across an organization, on the other hand, application integration works on a more functional level where it allows applications to interact with each other.

Data integration offers you the possibility of conducting it in real time, however, it is seldom done so. Data integration follows a batch based data processing model, where an extensive amount of data is collected over time and is processed in batches. The main purpose data integration serves is that it allows organizations to move data within applications periodically in order to analyze it in a more efficient manner. Furthermore, any redundancies found in the data can also be eliminated. This increases the quality of data and makes it more consistent.

In contrast, application integration is conducted in real time. The associated data of applications is linked in real time which allows the clients of S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. to create dynamic services and applications. Application integration also allows the clients to make critical decisions quickly and before it is too late.

Applications of Application Integration

Application integration is used for various clients working in fields which range from healthcare to banking. Let’s take a closer look at how application integration optimizes the processes in these fields. In the field of banking there is a recent trend where more and more banking institutions are offering their consumers the facility of mobile banking where users can access their account information and perform various banking transactions from the convenience of their smartphone instead of visiting the banks in person. Application integration plays a key role in mobile banking. The reason banks are able to offer mobile banking to their consumers is that their different applications are integrated together through application integration. These applications include customer accounts, backend services, loan application system etc. Mobile banking has served as a tool to attract new customers and all credit goes to application integration.

Next up we have the field of manufacturing which uses numerous devices for the purpose of monitoring all the different aspects of the production line. If we are able to connect these devices with other systems of the on premise architecture, we would not only be able to gain better insights about the production line but also identify the problems present. This can be achieved by application integration where we form a connection between the devices and the rest of the architecture deployed that includes inventory systems, scheduling applications and control systems responsible for managing the manufacturing environment. Application integration helps in making the entire process of manufacturing more optimized in terms of cost, quality and productivity.

In healthcare, application integration is used to link the health records of patients with the EHR (electronic health record) system. This provides numerous benefits both to the patients as well as the healthcare professionals. With the help of application integration healthcare professionals can view the medical history of the patients that includes information about their previous ailments and the medicines that have been administered to them. Furthermore, they can also view data about the patient’s insurance provider and determine if the particular treatment is covered by the patient’s insurance provider or not. The patient is also offered a smoother experience as he moves between the different departments of the hospital. Each department is automatically informed about all the relevant information with the help of the electronic health record system. This saves time for both the patient and the healthcare provider and it ultimately means that more patients can be treated in the same amount of time.

Conclusion

Initially what began as simple data integration, where data was relocated and replicated in databases to ensure that all the entities had a consistent view of data, has evolved to application integration; enabling business process automation. Application integration has moved beyond the consolidation of data and now offers advanced features such as real time connectivity of applications irrespective of their heterogeneous nature.

By application integration, S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. offers their clients several benefits. These include the fact that a client’s business can perform rapid scalability and add new applications to their architecture without manually configuring them. Furthermore, application integration allows the integration of new systems with legacy systems. This is a major advantage as organizations move towards latest systems and wish to maintain the same data which was present in legacy systems.

In today’s world there are many practical use cases of application integration. From fields such as healthcare to manufacturing, S.T.A.R.S (Pvt.) Ltd. is helping solve real world problems with the use of application integration. These areas now manage their data in an optimized manner. Earlier, prior to the use application integration, each application would maintain their own data which was incapable of being shared with the other applications. This led to the creation of data silos and ultimately data overload. Organizations were paying more than what was required to store this additional data. Now, with the help of application integration, issues such as data replication and redundancies have been eliminated.

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