Introduction

The only thing certain in the world of technology is new technologies. Unfortunately, a blank slate does not greet any newly acquired technology. It enters into a complex ecosystem of pre-existing technologies, many of which were not designed to be inter-compatible. There are two major challenges to systems integration, first, how do different business units relate to and use various systems? Second, how does a company make sure existing systems work well with new technologies?

Challenges of Systems Integration

Imagine, for example, a company using different software solutions for its databases, analytical software, BI tools, data validation tools and risk management systems, to say nothing of any custom solutions the company may have implemented. Such a diversity of systems would require the constant efforts of the company’s IT department to ensure compatibility and productivity.

However, there is a way to simplify this process. By using an application that can centralize data from both internal and external sources, process this data, and then conveniently push it to downstream systems, compatibility between different systems can be greatly simplified.

systems_integration_graph
A graph comparing power prices to temperature, a power producer trying to set prices could conduct this analysis, export the data to Excel, or present and visualize it in Tableau.

For example, consider how such an application would integrate with two very common business tools, Excel and Tableau. First, the application would pull and store data from either a pre-existing database used by the company, or some external source such as a website. Then, when a user wanted to move this data to Excel or Tableau for further analysis, the application would be able to push the collected data to these systems without the need for SQL queries. This kind of smooth integration allows for an “ecosystem” of compatible business tools.

Another major challenge to systems integration is similar to building a house of cards; it is tricky to set up at first, but making sure it stays up is a nightmare. In more prosaic terms, making sure that all the components work together is complex, but as each manufacturer updates – or perhaps doesn’t update – their software maintaining long-term interconnectivity becomes very complicated. Here, the solution is to use a software provider who has a strong commitment to keeping their system current and integrated with new technologies.

For example, consider the ZEMA software; it is regularly supported with features and updates, such as new adaptors for BI tools like Spotfire or support for the R programming language. This software is also ready to feed data into new technologies; for example, partnering with IBM’s Watson to prepare for the next generation of advanced machine learning and big data techniques.

Conclusion

As technologies continue to proliferate, systems integration will remain one of the biggest challenges for businesses of all sizes. A solution designed to operate synergistically with a variety of other systems, coupled with a provider dedicated to long-term improvements is the surest way to make a systems integration project is successful now and in the future. The ZEMA suite is a perfect example of such a solution.


Bibliography

  1. Bedell, Crystal. “Best Practices for combatting integration problems.” Tech target. October 2013, accessed on September 26th, 2017. https://searchitchannel.techtarget.com/feature/Best-practices-for-combatting-integration-problems
  2. Levy, Even. “Four common data integration issues and challenges.” Tech Target. February 2010, accessed on September 26th, 2017. https://searchdatamanagement.techtarget.com/answer/Four-common-data-integration-issues-and-challenges