Undergoing a digital transformation is like upgrading to a dream car. Attention falls on the sleek new looks, improved efficiency and higher speeds. But we often fail to look under the hood, although that’s where we’ll find the engine that powers the car.
“ Through 2020, integration work will account for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform”
Looking under the hood is a vital step for application leaders delivering digital transformation. They must focus on more than potential increases in agility, profitability and new revenue streams. Behind these top-level improvements is the vital integration work that binds different technology initiatives together, making the collective output — or business outcomes — greater than the sum of its parts.
“Through 2020, integration work will account for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform,” says Massimo Pezzini, research vice president and Gartner fellow. “Moreover, the complex challenges posed by digital business transformation require a radical change in the integration technology platform and in the way organizations deal with integration.”
Added complexity requires a platform approach
Imagine, for example, an organization implements artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to answer its customer queries more quickly. It is likely to require seamless connectivity with customer data. To complicate matters, a new customer-facing Internet of Things (IoT) initiative means that there’s an exponential increase in data volume and velocity stemming from thousands of endpoints — the processing of which requires migration to a cloud storage and compute platform. This has in turn enabled real-time analysis which should also feed back into the AI system for greater business insights and optimal business outcomes.
“ Digitalization tends to mean that IT departments have less control over IT-related initiatives than they have had in the past”
In most cases, the traditional integration toolkit — a set of task-specific integration tools — is unable to address this level of complexity. Organizations need to move toward what Gartner calls a hybrid integration platform, or HIP. The HIP is the “home” for all functionalities that ensure the smooth integration of multiple digital transformation initiatives in an organization.
Introducing an HIP means that organizational models must also change to keep pace. The traditional IT-controlled centralized integration team with its “integration factory” model will need to shift towards an approach that supports HIP-enabled, self-service integration by lines of business, subsidiaries, application development teams and eventually business users.