Blog What is application integration and how does it boost your effectiveness?

What is application integration and how does it boost your effectiveness?

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Application integration is the process of enabling independently designed applications, each serving its specific purpose, to work together and share information among themselves in real-time.  

By merging and optimizing workflows and data between multiple software applications, you give your business’ effectiveness a substantial boost. The aim of app integration is to create a unified infrastructure that streamlines the apps as opposed to running them in a fragmented way. You will not have to manually move data between apps to better understand your business performance, so you save a lot of time and reduce risk of errors.  

 

Who needs application integration? 

Employees often use cloud and mobile applications in their jobs and organizations must create integrations between the old and new apps. For example, many businesses integrate supply chain management (SCM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM).

The large number of apps used in workflow processes and the growing volume of data distribution make application integration necessary. Often, premises-based apps need to be linked with cloud-based applications. Many organizations across a wide range of industries are using application integration to automate their business processes, to improve performance and to stay competitive. 

 

The challenges of application integration 

Application integration can cause connectivity issues between apps and connecting them can be a mind-numbing, time-consuming process. A connection between two apps can be programmed manually, but as you add more apps, overseeing a large number of manual integrations is challenging and prone to errors.

Sometimes, an application integration solution is the right answer. If integration of an application is not successfully implemented within the IT environment, it can create chaos for data. Organizations cannot receive and route app data when they lack adequate data transformation and processes are not mapped correctly, resulting in the app working outside the automated data syncing process.  

You won’t regret getting an application integration specialist on board who can assist with this essential task and who can design an application-specific integrated circuit if necessary.

 

Types of application integration 

Depending on your budget, your future business strategy and needs, you can choose from the following application integration types.

 

Point-to-point integration – Developers can build a custom integration for the apps to work with one another. This method is not scalable and is not sustainable if you needed more apps to be integrated, and each new app would require hand-coding to be connected.  

 

Hub-and-spoke integration – This is also known as enterprise application integration (EAI), and enterprise service bus (ESB), are solutions that eliminate the need for point-to-point integration. Any new application only needs to connect to EAI or ESB rather than needing to have a separate connection to each of the apps. 

 

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) – iPaaS offers connectors and application programming interfaces (APIs) to streamline communications between connected applications and can integrate any combination of on-premises apps, web apps and web services. Application integration tools can help you to integrate applications with minimal effort. 

 

Examples of application integration 

There are countless app combinations that businesses integrate as they differ from industry to industry. The most common application integration includes connecting a cloud-based ERP solution with existing on-premises or cloud-based apps, such as ERP integration with CRM, a service desk, legacy apps, financial systems, business intelligence, or ecommerce. ERP system integration will enable centralized data flows, eliminate data silos and automate business processes.  

Learn more about modular ERPs and their benefits.

 

The difference between application integration and data integration 

You might have come across the two terms and thought they were the same. Even though they’re sometimes used interchangeably, they differ in some key ways. Let’s take a closer look.

Data integration is the process of gathering information from different sources on one unified platform. Data integration can provide real-time data, but it does not need to. Data integration helps administrators analyze and move data within applications over time to get rid of redundancies and to improve data set-up. 

Application integration links apps in real-time, allowing for more powerful and effective business processes. Application integration will enable managers to make data-driven decisions fast. 

 

The benefits of application integration 

You will find that the investment and effort put in application integration will pay off. The number of apps that businesses use in day-to-day operations is rapidly growing. It's not hard to see why: automation, customer experience, and one information flow. To make the most of the apps you use, you need to connect them. Below are just a few examples of the benefits of application integration.

 

Access to data anywhere, anytime

Teams can collaborate from various environments and have access to data globally at any time. 

 

Improved productivity and real-time visibility

An ERP and other integrations will automate processes, reduce human error and provide high quality data and business performance metrics. Organizations can view, track, and report on the data throughout the processes workflow. 

 

Eliminated data silos

App integration means that apps from different vendors can communicate and share data with each other, making data analysis fast and reliable. 

 

Reduced IT complexity

App integration streamlines data and workflow processes by combining the information and functionalities of several applications into a single use-interface. 

 

Agility

Application integration will allow your business to respond to opportunities and shifts in the market quickly, mainly by automating operation processes. It also enables businesses to customize and personalize customer experience, giving you a competitive advantage.  

 

Easier transition to new technologies

Businesses continue to explore advances in technology to speed up and improve their services and customer experience. Having an application integration architecture in place will allow for the easy integration of other apps and web services. 

 

Industries that use application integration 

Simply put, middle-sized and large businesses in any industry use application integration. If your business is small and you serve customers on-premises, the investment in application integration might not bring the desired ROI for your company. 

Here are some examples of industries that use application integration.

 

Finance

Bank institutions integrate mobile apps, streamline various services like loans, mortgages and investments, business and personal account management, CRM, marketing, etc. 

 

Healthcare

The healthcare industry uses application integration to enable mobile apps, booking systems, patient access, medical records, health insurance information and more. 

 

Retail and commerce

Retailers and online businesses use application integration to track purchase orders, inventory and payments in real-time, and to manage customer service, marketing and shipping. 

 

Manufacturing

Application integration enables manufacturers to streamline operations, keep track of production line, manage supply chain, and to ensure quality and control. 

Regardless of the industry, if businesses integrate a cloud-based ERP with the applications they are using, high-quality real-time data can be gathered and streamlined, allowing for better business performance analysis and planning.

Read on: A guide to modern cloud-based ERP systems.

In short, you could think of application integration as an orchestra playing a variety of instruments to produce one beautiful tune. To a tech enthusiast, integrating innovative apps into a business and seeing them communicate together well feels like hearing a beautiful tune. 

 

Vault ERP was built with integrations in mind

Switching to an all-in-one solution like Vault ERP can be a big step for your company. And while ERP implementations presents numerous opportunities and benefits for your business, you may not want to leave your tried and trusted applications behind. Luckily, Vault ERP was built with app integrations in mind, and can be tailored to your requirements.

Learn more about Vault ERP on our website or get in touch for a demo today.

 

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