Good Enough Integrations

By on June 6th, 2017 in Managed Learning Services

Everyone wants cool toys.

When we’re talking enterprise software, those toys are typically integration points. Very little gets management more excited than real-time metrics on a dashboard with dials in motion as the data changes. Those data points aren’t just for show, of course, and can provide useful information to the business owners of the enterprise software.

But do they need to be shiny?

For those that have been around the block a few times, I liken this to the early days of the World Wide Web. You may recall things like spinning logos, flaming logos, and the BLINK HTML tag. These “features” brought little substance to the need to get out the information about the business.

Just as these bits of eye candy distracted from the main purpose of promulgating business information, so too do some of the flashier capabilities of integration suites distract from the business need of getting data from system A to system B. Moving data real time between systems without human interaction is undeniably amazing, but this ability needs to be tempered by the question of whether it needs to be done.

As Ian Malcolm Black said in Jurassic Park,[1] “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Business requirements are key. They drive the technical choices for your integration (as they should) and help you decide how intricate your integration needs to be. It should be exactly as complex as needed and no more than that.

If there’s no need for real-time integrations, don’t bother with them. They introduce some fragility that may jeopardize your business success. Remember that the “cool” factor can also bring in the “brittle” factor in cutting-edge offerings from your software vendors. The relationship between complexity and things like bugs and maintenance costs is a subject of its own in computer science circles.

Of course, if your business requires these features, go ahead and use them! By no means be frightened of complexity, rather be aware of whether or not you need it and at what price it comes.

[1] Spielberg, Steven. 1993. Jurassic Park. Film.

Chris Olive

Chris Olive serves as the Chief Architect for the GP Strategies Enterprise Technology Solutions group. Chris is responsible for the research and development of new technologies in the human resource management space including: integrations, mobile applications, social and informal learning, and knowledge content management. His client experience includes the Boston Scientific, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Chris has a BS in Computer Science and Creative Writing from Loyola College and an MS in Computer Information Systems with a Security concentration from Boston University.

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