When is enough, enough?
Yesterday I published research that enumerates and describes nine different integration brokerage (IB) solution patterns — Integration Brokerage Solution Patterns Address Many Integration Problems (subscription required). For those not familiar with the term “integration brokerage”, its a form of IT outsourcing for integration project implementation and management — think: Managed Services for any combination of EDI / B2B / SaaS integration projects. In the research we illustrate, describe, identify adoption drivers and forecast each solution pattern. The nine IB solution patterns are:
- IB for B2B E-Commerce, Supplier Integration, e.g., a retailer / manufacturer connecting to its suppliers
- IB for B2B E-Commerce, Customer Integration, e.g., a supplier / manufacturer connecting to its customers
- IB for ERP (Application/SaaS) Extension, e.g., taking orders directly into my ERP (B2B as a feature of ERP)
- IB for Data Synchronization, i.e., publishing supplier product info through a regional data pool to buyers
- IB for International Electronic Invoicing, i.e., automation, compliance for international electronic invoices
- IB for Infrastructure Modernization — think: “I’ve got 10 B2B hubs in my company — help! Consolidate them.
- IB for Small to Midsize B2B Projects — “I gotta do EDI for a few doz partners but I don’t wanna to do it myself”
- IB for Internal (A2A) Integration Projects — “You’re kiddin’ me, right?” (yeah, real, but early adoption phase)
- IB for Cloud Services Brokerage, i.e., knitting Cloud/SaaS functionality with on-premise Apps and data (big!)
Despite the fact this research *just* published I’ve been musing over other use case scenarios. The role of IB and intermediation in shared multienterprise applications and processes. Connecting companies to MRO supplier networks. Managing B2B traffic between electric car fueling stations, utilities and customers. Heavy-lifting data, e.g,. MFT for retail POS data, healthcare lab data, etc. Often companies, consortia, providers, etc., run their own B2B networks, and do all the integration themselves. That’s fine. But sometimes they won’t or can’t bother with it. As “Big Data” proliferates, as B2B processes become more complex, as companies continue to focus on core competencies, sometimes it will simply make sense to let someone else manage the integration.
Integration has evolved from being a First Class IT Citizen — it isn’t hot like Social, Cloud, et al — to becoming more of just an assumed core competency. Of course you’re good at integration, right? Integration is like security — an arcane skill, no “IT sex appeal”, a lot of Devil in the Detail — but you still must absolutely, positively get it right for success (and survival). Nowadays if you execute well you can be successful either implementing integration projects yourself — the integration software is really mature — or by outsourcing — so too have integration service providers matured. You’re going to be doing a LOT of integration — I’ve identified nine project patterns — and counting. (Any missing?) Which will you want to do yourself? Which not?