Center for Automated Integration

The goal of automated integration is to enable applications and systems that were built separately to easily share data and work together, resulting in new capabilities and efficiencies that cut costs, uncover insights, and much more.

Automated Integration in Action

Learn how automated integration helps companies easily and intuitively make data accessible to all.

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The Total Economic Impact of IBM Cloud Pak For Integration (eBook)

IBM Cloud Pak for Integration improved the quality and resiliency of integrations across application, API, enterprise messaging, event streaming, and high-speed data transfers.

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Summary Economics for Deploying IBM Cloud Pak for Integration (Infographic)

IBM Cloud Pak for Integration offers quantifiable financial benefits including a 151% ROI, payback period of less than six months, and a net present value (NPV) of $4.1 million.

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Automation

Breaking Down Data Silos with Automated Integration

Automated integration takes much of the burden off of the technical staff by handling the numerous manual tasks required to make siloed data available to applications.

Best Practices

Integration Needs Scalability, User-Friendly Interface

Integration solutions should enable all business users to leverage data for active decision-making. Companies that get this right will find themselves better positioned for digital transformation.

Fundamentals

Enabling Business – Led Integration With Automation

Modern business moves at a fast pace. Because of that, lines of business (LoB) are often frustratedwhen it takes weeks, months, or even longer for their ideas to become a reality.

Fundamentals

Is the Data Cloud Alliance for Data Openness or for Google?

The Alliance believes that by committing to open data standards, access, and integration between data platforms and applications, it can significantly accelerate business transformations and close the data to value gap.

Application Integration

IBM Launches Next Generation DataPower Gateway

The all-in-one integration solution ties traditional web services with modern event-based and API workloads

Industry Applications

Mitigate Risk from Extreme Weather Conditions

IBM Cloud Pak for Integration can help insurers quickly and effectively integrate weather data into their business processes to mitigate risk and deliver enhanced customer experiences.

Best Practices

Skill-Based Hiring Could Address Technical Staffing Shortages

A Harvard Business Review study found that, to meet the demand for experienced tech staff to drive digital transformation efforts, many companies have adopted skill-based hiring (vs. hiring based on degrees). Such an approach complements automation efforts that try to make efficient use of a staff’s time.

Application Integration

iPaaS Market Size To Reach $23.7 Billion By 2028

An iPaaS acts as a conduit for communication between multiple systems, allowing for integration and data sharing by connecting otherwise disjointed systems.

Automation

Major Integration Challenges of Today and How to Overcome Them

We discuss integration challenges and how the use of AI, no code and low code techniques, and automation can help companies overcome them.

Best Practices

Faster Data Access Still A Priority Post Pandemic

The average organization currently has between four to six data platforms in their data ecosystem, with 10 percent having ten to twelve data platforms. The average is expected to rise in 2023 and 2024, as organizations continue to add more ways to collect and store data.

Industry Applications

Join the Open Banking and Open Finance Revolution

Open Banking is now expanding towards the broader revolution of Open Finance, which goes beyond any regulatory framework and is designed to share more precise data across a broader range of services.

Fundamentals

The Role of Knowledge Graphs in Cloud Data Integration

Graph databases and knowledge graphs have a number of built-in advantages when it comes to overcoming the challenges of data integration.

Best Practices

Poor Integration Hinders Digital Transformation Success

Recent studies find that business leaders have a clear understanding that better integration is needed for digital transformation. But a lack of investment or internal struggles often prevent this integration from happening.

Fundamentals

Data Prep Key Part of Automating Integration

One particularly time-consuming and manual integration process step that could benefit from automation is data preparation.

Automation

Four Reasons You Need Automation in Integration

Learn how AI-powered Automation can transform the integration lifecycle and why it makes sense to deploy it in your own organization.

Fundamentals

Why Integration Is Essential for Modern, Real-time Applications

Integration is the only way to ensure that your real-time data is being used at the right time, in the right context, to help people make better decisions.

Industry Applications

Data Integration Is A Necessity for Public Sector Projects

Public sector organizations, which often have a larger remit than most private businesses, need data integration to streamline services.

Automation

From Fragile to Agile: How Cloud Pak for Integration Can Help You Transform Your Business

IBM Cloud Pak for Integration is a hybrid cloud platform that offers seamless interoperability between integration components to meet any business needs or expectations.

Best Practices

Successful Integration is a Team Sport

With AI as a differentiator, enterprises can leverage a handful of strategic experts to automate integration efforts that free data.

Fundamentals

Business-led Integration: Uniting IT, Non-techies, and iPaaS

Those who find a way to leverage technology in the service of business-led integration will count themselves among the 30% of digital transformation winners.

Automation

Embracing a Transformative Approach to Business-led Integration

Automation can help enable a revolution in business-led integration, playing an important role in several integration steps.

Fundamentals

The Embracement of API-centric Models

An API-centric approach to digital transformation helps make integration possible and easier to carry out.

Application Integration

4 Challenges for Open Banking Integration

For open banking to work, organizations must overcome a number of common integration challenges.

Automation

Gartner: Top Strategic Technology Trends in 2022

Composable applications, generative AI, and data fabrics are all part of Gartner's strategic technology trends 2022 edition.

Fundamentals

Why Data Integration Is Integral to Successful Enterprises

As enterprises look to make the most of their data, they should consider the benefits that data integration can bring to their business, especially as more organizations undergo digital transformation.

Application Integration

Business Leaders Must Make Data Fabrics a Priority in 2022

Data fabrics ensure organizational-wide and on-demand access to data sets needed for efficient operations and digital transformation.

Event Streaming

Driving Faster Insights with a Data Mesh

A Data Mesh approach removes the bottlenecks that come with the traditional data warehousing and data lake models, and in doing so, allows companies to drive faster insights.

Use Cases

Industry Applications

CVS Health Transforms its Business

CVS Health integrated its entire ecosystem to gain flexibility and transform the way that CVS provides service to its clients and partners.

Industry Applications

Building Trust in a Digital World

Anadolu Sigorta, Turkey’s oldest insurance company, builds trust among customers with a secure integration of mission-critical systems.

Industry Applications

An Open Future for Digital Banking in Pakistan

1LINK powers ATM withdrawals, online utility bill payments, electronic fund transfers, and more by enabling fast, affordable integration via its API platform.

Use Cases

Keeping Helsinki Moving

The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) is charged with procuring and organizing public transportation for the entire region.

Use Cases

Fast, Flexible and Ready to Grow

Information exchange is at the heart of Saudi Vision 2030, a government initiative setting ambitious goals for the country’s cultural and economic development.

Use Cases

A Singular Focus on the Road Ahead

Management and maintenance of Italian roadways, bridges, and tunnels has undergone a complete digital transformation using innovative technologies.

What is Automated Integration?

The prime characteristic of modern business is speed. And automated integration can play a major role in helping lines of business fulfill their objectives.

Why? Business units must meet rapidly changing market conditions and customer demands. They undertake new digital initiatives ranging from the introduction of a single new customer application to revamping the way they operate by redoing complex business processes or inventing new ones.

Traditionally, all the work to carry out these initiatives would fall on the shoulders of the IT and development teams. These groups would scope out the requirements of any new project, figure out what data resources are needed, and then write the code to integrate the data and to cobble all the application elements together.

Solution focus

There are several problems with maintaining this status quo.

Typical approaches to integration take too long, and they do not scale. Teams with multiple members with specialized skills must manually go through several steps to perform the integration for a single project. Each project is customized. Such an approach results in an ever-growing set of one-off integrations, each of which takes weeks or months of effort to build, update, or maintain.

Additionally, IT staff and developers are overwhelmed with requests. This comes at a time when it is difficult to attract and retain skilled workers. Specifically, businesses today find it is much harder to maintain the required specialty skills needed to build or maintain integrations. The skills problem is becoming more acute. Many people with the knowledge and skills needed to work on legacy systems are retiring. Others are opting to leave their jobs or enter new fields leading to what many call the great resignation. And younger tech staff is harder to retain due to the great demand for their talents.

Challenges to overcome

Business processes depend on the movement of data between applications which is triggered by events, actions, customers, or clients. Integration is about getting data moved from where it is created to where it needs to be consumed. However, integration efforts often encounter obstacles including:

Too many manual tasks

There are many manual tasks throughout the integration lifecycle, including creation, deployment, operation, and maintenance. This includes tasks like mapping fields in integration flows, creating the integration flows themselves, or writing API tests that exercise the full scope of the integration and related back-ends. These manual tasks have always required expert integration skills. This slows down the speed of any digital transformation projects due to a limited number of integration experts.

Not enough insights

There isn't enough insight, or action on the insight, of what is happening in the business. When problems occur, time is wasted on problem determination. Even if a problem is fixed, the lessons learned aren't applied to the rest of the deployments. And problems in operation, if found, are fixed rather than fed back into the integration lifecycle where they could be used to improve the process. These inefficiencies remain hidden because companies lack operational visibility to continuously improve integrations, learning from their own data and experiences.

Siloed teams

Integration teams are siloed. The messaging team is separate from the application integration team. The Kafka team is separate from each of them. They all feel their integration approach is the way to solve the business integration problems. All of them have different approaches, skills, and deployment behaviors.

How can automated integrations help?

Automated integration takes much of the burden off of the technical staff to carry out these processes. The goal of automated integration is to enable applications and systems that were built separately to work together without too much manual effort, resulting in new capabilities and efficiencies that cut costs, uncover insights, and much more. Achieving these results requires overcoming problems in multiple areas. All the problems can benefit from automation, like the ones listed below:

Automated integration that makes use of technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and no-code/low-code development methods can help address these challenges.

For example, AI in the form of natural language processing (NLP) might be used at the start of a project that requires integration. The business team could then simply describe the integration it needs. An AI-powered automation solution could then use those words to recommend various integration templates the team might use in its project. And finally, an AI-powered automation solution would create the integration workflows once the business team selects a template.

Such an approach will greatly speed integration efforts. However, speed is not the only factor to consider. Quality is an important priority. Any automated integration initiative should address issues that can arise in the entire integration lifecycle.

To accomplish this requires an integration solution with an automated, closed-loop approach that supports multiple styles of integration. It should allow businesses to make use of data and assets via APIs, cloud, and on-premises applications. It should also help a business reliably move data with enterprise messaging, support real-time event interactions, and transfer data across any environment.

Critical elements of an automated integration solution

Legacy applications were monoliths that were hard to update and did not offer easy ways to share data or expose functionality. In contrast, modern applications are based on cloud-native architectures using microservices and APIs that allow various elements to interact with one another easily.

As a result, application integration's function is to directly link multiple applications at a functional level. Application data may be linked in near real-time, allowing organizations to create dynamic and highly adaptable applications and services.

There are proven application integration styles that can be used independently or in combination, from modern API integration where business IT assets can be exposed and discovered in a rapid and secure way to more traditional service-oriented architectures like an enterprise service bus. Integrations might be synchronous where the caller immediately receives a response or makes a change in a back-end system, or asynchronous where integration flows are triggered after events occur in one application then reflect those events in other applications.

Application integration generally refers to these real-time interactions, enabling businesses to stay agile, retrieve and immediately change data, and respond to new events as they occur. This contrasts with the older forms of batch-based integration (often termed “data integration”) that tend to be more periodic in nature, with hourly or even daily batch runs.

A suitable automated integration solution needs to offer a complete set of multi-style integration capabilities that help companies integrate faster. Such a solution would help integration developers expose data, apps, and events as securely managed APIs. This enables them to access the functionality of other applications easily and quickly through well-defined data structures.

Another key attribute needed in an automated integration solution is enterprise-grade messaging. Messaging enables data to be passed asynchronously from one application to another such that the sending application can continue with other tasks with the knowledge that the data is assured to be delivered to the target application or applications exactly once and only once.

A solution should use Apache Kafka for building real-time client interactions. An example is a notification of something (event) that happened in an application, such as a payment being received. Event streaming technology enables a receiving application to not only receive events one by one but also to view the entire stream at will.

Additionally, the capabilities of an automated integration solution become ever-more useful to lines of business when they enable no-code/low code integrations based on robotic process automation (RPA) to integrate with desktop apps or apps that don't have APIs or connectors.

Use cases and application areas for automated integration

Some examples of automated integration in action include:

  • Banking: By integrating customer accounts, loan applications services, and other back-end systems with their mobile app, a bank can provide services via a new digital channel and appeal to new customers.
  • Manufacturing: Factories use hundreds or even thousands of devices to monitor all aspects of the production line. By connecting the devices to other systems (e.g., parts inventories, scheduling applications, systems that control the manufacturing environment), manufacturers can uncover insights that help them identify production problems and better balance quality, cost, and throughput.
  • Healthcare: By integrating a hospital patient’s record with an electronic health record (EHR) system, anyone who treats the patient has access to the patient’s history, treatments, and records from the primary care physician and specialists, insurance providers, and more. As the patient moves through different areas of the hospital, the caregivers can access the information they need to treat the patient.
  • ERP systems: Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems serve as a hub for all business activities in the organization. By integrating ERP with supporting applications and services, organizations can streamline and automate mission-critical business processes, such as payment processing, supply chain functions, sales lead tracking, and more.
  • CRM platforms: When combined with other tools and services, customer relationship management (CRM) platforms can maximize productivity and efficiency by automating several sales, marketing, customer support, and product development functions.

In all these use cases, a business can leverage automated integration to eliminate issues like manual tasks requiring expert integration skills, lack of operational visibility to improve integrations, and the approach of using only one integration style.

Why automated integration, and why now?

Businesses today face three key challenges, and integration can assist in addressing each one.

The first challenge is driving new engagement models and digital transformation. This is about new business opportunities, new business models, innovation, and driving new business offerings to address these opportunities. Frequently it involves new thinking around digital transformation and ecosystems. Unfortunately, 70% of digital transformation efforts fail due to a lack of integration quality.

The second challenge is accelerating integration while reducing costs. With the ever-increasing number of applications, microservices, cloud, and on-premises deployments and integration needs, the number and need for integration are increasing. Most businesses have trouble handling this increased need at speed while trying to keep costs under control.

And finally, the third challenge is reducing exposure to business and security risks. As businesses are reaching outward to engage their customers, and as businesses expand the deployment of assets across multiple locations, there must be a focus on ensuring business integrity even as deployments multiply and scale and also addressing potential security threats.

Automated integration can help in each of these three areas. Automated integration replaces the bottleneck of a centralized, monolithic architecture. Modern integration approaches empower teams to build and deploy their own integrations. Supporting various integration methods that work seamlessly together helps businesses remove the inefficiency and cost of maintaining multiple integration offerings that do not work together.

Bottom line: Businesses simply have too much integration work to continue to do things manually, relying solely on a centralized set of highly skilled experts. While this group is always going to be needed to do complex integration tasks, successful businesses are working toward an approach to integration that uses AI and automation to eliminate this bottleneck and move simpler reusable integration work out of this centralized team. This enables businesses to get new or updated applications deployed and productive faster.