What Is Application Integration?
Application integration is the process of merging disparate software systems – both on-premises and cloud-based – that are designed for individual purposes to automate business processes and exchange data. Most applications (which can range from a CRM to marketing automation and ERP systems) do not inherently talk to each other. To do so, additional technology to enable communication is necessary.
In today’s digital economy, staying competitive requires integrating and orchestrating applications across business units. The goal? To improve customer experience and productivity. In fact, having this kind of agility can be the difference between excelling or maintaining the status quo. This is where application integration can be most useful.
Application integration technology connects applications and helps to remove data silos that can inhibit business processes. As you can imagine, having a comprehensive view of business workflows across your organization can help speed up decision making, reduce costs and accelerate time to market.
Now that you know the basics of application integration, let’s review how it differs from data integration.
How Is Application Integration Different from Data Integration?
Data integration is the process of connecting different structured and unstructured data sources, whether it’s social media platform data, app information, payment tools, CRM, ERP reports or others, and plug that data into analytics and insight solutions. The ultimate goal is to create actionable intelligence for better business decisions. Application integration, on the other hand, orchestrates workflows between applications in real-time. For example, passing lead information from a marketing system like HubSpot into a sales management system like Salesforce. This typically happens on the individual transaction level. Data integration, however, typically happens at the data storage or database level. This means entire tables, directories, streams or other data types are aggregated and transformed as needed.
As you can see, organizations rely on both application and data integration to automate processes and share real-time and batch data. These are two distinct but essential capabilities: the yin and yang that businesses need to achieve digital transformation.
We’re clear on the differences between application and data integration. Now let’s review how the underlying technology that helps make application integration possible.
What Role Does an iPaaS Play in Application Integration?
An integration platform as a service (iPaaS) plays a central role in application integration. By connecting different disparate applications and systems in a single platform, an iPaaS helps automate business processes and optimize human workflows. These are must-haves to maintain a competitive edge.
An iPaaS offers low-code/no-code capabilities that simplify the design of integrations. With intuitive wizards, AI-driven features and drag-and-drop options, organizations can create integrations without the need for extensive coding knowledge. That’s a win given how the skill gap is widening with the evolving technological landscape.
Other benefits of utilizing an iPaaS for application integration? It can help streamline operations, cut down on costs and boost productivity. An iPaaS empowers businesses to easily connect and orchestrate their applications. This enables smooth data flow and process automation — necessities in a crowded market.
Now let’s walk through an example of application integration in action.
What Is a Real-World Example of Application Integration?
As a business process moves forward, control must be passed from one application to another. Applications need to be integrated or connected to each other to allow a process (such as onboarding a new employee or managing a marketing campaign) to move across applications.
Let’s review how an ecommerce order flow moves through multiple applications in real time. These applications can include payment gateway, order management system, inventory management system, shipping and logistics software. Other possible applications are fraud detection and prevention tools, customer support and ticketing system, and analytics and reporting tools.
An example: An online retailer needs to process orders, which generally initiates a business workflow in an order management system. It then connects to a CRM system, such as Salesforce, to retrieve and update customer data, followed by an update to a scheduling and inventory management system. The business process needs to connect with all these systems in a timely and logical manner to read, update and synchronize data between these applications. That’s where application integration comes in. It connects disparate applications so organizations can achieve seamless data flow.
What Are the Benefits of Application Integration?
Some key benefits of application integration include the ability to:
- Provide a comprehensive view of the business:
Integrating applications gives your team better visibility into what’s going on throughout the company. This helps speed up decision making based on the needs of the entire enterprise. It also helps facilitate faster time to market.
- Streamline processes:
Applicatioa entry and n integration eliminates manual dat enables seamless flow of information between systems. It removes the need for duplicate data entry, reduces errors and saves time and effort.
- Reduce IT complexity:
By combining information and functionality of several applications into a single, easy-to-use interface, business processes are simplified. This improves productivity and collaboration.
- Save costs:
Maintaining separate applications can significantly add to the cost of running the business. With application integration, costs are substantially less for usage and maintenance.
With application integration, organizations can recognize and respond to opportunities more quickly. Being able to pivot strategies to address market shifts can separate the leaders from the laggards.
Now that we’ve covered the pros of application integration, let’s see how it’s used across key industries.
What Are Key Use Cases of Application Integration?
To effectively compete, organizations must modernize their legacy processes and systems and deploy agile integration strategies. Whether it’s retail, healthcare or banking, application integration can help businesses meet their objectives. Some typical use cases for key industries include:
Integrating customer accounts, loan applications services and other back-office systems with their mobile app can enable a bank, for example, to offer services. This can include the ability to submit loan applications, upload supporting documents and track the status of their applications through the app. Application integration also allows financial institutions to provide personalized offers and recommendations based on customer profiles and transaction history for a better experience.
Integrating a hospital patient’s record with an electronic health record (EHR) system can give key stakeholders (like primary care physicians, specialists and insurance companies) access to the patient’s information. This can help ensure appropriate and timely treatment.
Retailers and online businesses rely on application integration for a real-time look at supply chain, inventory, payments, customer service and more. This ultimately helps provide a seamless customer experience, which can help increase loyalty and boost sales.
The upsides are indisputable: To thrive in today’s market, you need an application integration tool. And Informatica can help.
How Informatica Application Integration Can Help You Achieve Radical Productivity
Whether you’re planning to connect your applications or modernize your legacy applications, Informatica Cloud Application Integration, a service of Intelligent Data Management Cloud (IDMC), can help. It enables organizations to integrate applications, automate processes, manage APIs and synchronize data across multiple cloud deployments and on-premises in real time. It offers a single, trusted solution to support virtually any integration pattern, data set, user type or endpoint to automate business processes, expedite transactions and enable real-time analytics. And it gives you that edge to stay relevant in a competitive market.
Find out how to achieve radical productivity and increase business agility with our application integration solutions. And be sure to check out these valuable resources:
- Leverage top strategies in the blog 5 Sure-Fire Ways to Boost Productivity With Application Integration and Process Automation.
- Deliver real-time results with application integration capabilities.
- Discover how to integrate applications and automate complex business processes.
- Learn how an iPaaS can help boost developer productivity in the Nucleus Research report now.
- Start a free, 30-day trial of application integration now.