Having computer software in a company can be a factor that has a real impact on competitive advantage, cost optimization and improvement of information flow. However, what if we have implemented two different systems or more over the years and as a result, there was no impact on the added value expected by different departments in the company? The integration of IT systems comes in handy, which is becoming increasingly popular and works well in every industry.
From our entry you will learn:
- What is system integration
- In what industries are integrations popular
- What is the integration of systems with devices
- Is system integration always possible?
- Why integrate IT systems
- How to choose an IT systems integrator
However, we should consider system integration not only in the aspect of communication of systems and applications implemented in the organization that should communicate with each other. It is also worth considering integration when we plan to automate the exchange of data between systems in our company and the systems of our business partners. Integration can also be helpful if you take over another company that has already worked on a solution and you don’t want to change it.
What is IT system integration?
The integration of systems means the possibility of their communication and – to put it very simply – allow them to establish a conversation. Two or more systems can be integrated so that they can exchange data with each other.
There are several aspects to consider when considering system integration:
- integration type– we can choose from two options, that is:
1) indirect integration, using an external communication support tool (e.g. EDI, Electronic Data Interchange)
2) direct integration,e. dedicated, created on individual order, direct connection between two systems – without additional intermediaries
- scale of integration– It is worth analyzing, for example, how many documents and with how many contractors we exchange every day to be able to decide on the type of integration. If your company needs to integrate systems in which you exchange thousands or hundreds of thousands of documents, then direct integration will be much more effective for you. It will be better to use the services of an IT integrator who will create a dedicated connection between the systems. In turn, if you operate on a smaller scale, you can easily decide on indirect integration.
- way of integration– In other words, how systems are supposed to talk to each other. The systems have what’s called API, i.e. rules according to which they communicate. If we know them, we can freely exchange data between two different IT solutions. It is also possible to exchange information via FTP communication protocols, enabling remote connection of multiple servers. The next available solution is the data bus – it is a product that allows integration between databases.
- communication type– Communication between systems can be direct or we need to use data mapping. Mapping consists in assigning meanings from the dictionary of one software to the same element in the dictionary of the other. This process allows each system to understand what the user expects – despite the fact that each system uses different terms for the same thing.
In the next part we will tell you what companies most often decide to integrate IT systems.
In what industries are integrations popular?
Integration works for all industries, while in some cases it is particularly popular – for example, among retailers and their suppliers. With many suppliers, retail chains face a situation where each contractor and partner can have their own system in which they store information. In addition, in this situation they need to exchange a large number of documents, i.e. invoices, orders or shipping advice.
If the software is not integrated with each other, data exchange is slower and is related to human work. The commercial network must send the order, then it is processed, the supplier must confirm the order, issue the invoice, and then release the product from the warehouse. In turn, thanks to the integration of the systems of two cooperating companies, you can automatically accept the order immediately and send the invoice. This is done much faster and without the need for employees. It may look the same when sharing inventory with suppliers – so that they can analyze the level of inventory required for the production process on an ongoing basis.
What is the integration of systems with devices?
As in the case of system integration with the system, it is also possible to integrate systems with devices.
As an example of the integration of the device with the system, you can include, among others, the integration of barcode scanners in warehouse halls with the warehouse software, which allows you to quickly identify the product you need. Another example is the cooperation of the cash register with the sales system, which allows free access to cyclical reports, issuing accounting documents based on receipts and efficient service for shop customers.
Another example of device integration with an IT system is the Internet of Things (IOT), which we deal with in everyday life – for example, before entering a shopping mall parking lot we see on electronic boards how many free parking spaces we can find at a specific level.
Is IT system integration always possible?
Systems integration is practically always possible – however, they differ in the level of difficulty. You need to consider the documentation of systems that need to communicate with each other, i.e. database and API documents, for example. If the documentation is not readily available and the API is not ready, integration is still possible – but time consuming.
Why should you integrate IT systems together?
Below are some of the most important reasons that should convince you to integrate IT systems:
- Automation– we eliminate routine and time-consuming tasks performed manually, while the employee can focus on more responsible tasks
- cost effectiveness, cost optimization– by using automation, we can save time related to data exchange, for example by eliminating paper documents exchanged with contractors
- easy access to information– if we integrate a reporting system or Business Intelligence, thanks to automation we have access to reports much faster than if we had to manually export data from one system and import to another
- information unification– we enter data into one system instead of two or more, integration allows their automatic transfer when needed
- data consistency– if we enter them manually into several systems, it is easier to make a mistake, or else not to enter data somewhere it is needed; systems integration allows the user to maintain consistency and the same amount of data
- the cost of integration is lower than the cost of buying another system– currently the price of integration is getting lower due to the increasing popularity of this type of solution
- integration limits the number of licenses needed for employees– due to the fact that data from one system is displayed in another, separate licenses for each employee are no longer needed
- the ability to work on selected data for reports– integration of systems allows us to take into account specific data selected by us
- simplifying operational work– thanks to integration, service time is shortened and data transfer between partners is facilitated
The last part is devoted to what to consider when choosing an integrator of IT systems or devices with IT systems.
How to choose an IT systems integrator?
The choice of software integrator is extremely important due to the fact that system integration also involves the possibility of re-modeling business processes and improving them. When choosing an integrator, choose a company that already has experience in working with different types of systems and on a different scale, both in terms of one-sided integration (data is exchanged only one way) and two-sided (both systems export and import data). Thanks to this, you will be sure that the chosen integration method will allow you to enjoy a positive result after completing the work.
The entry was prepared in cooperation with Paweł Zawartka, Software Development Manager
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