The enterprise technology market is constantly evolving; the most recent trend has been towards the “consumerization of IT”. With outside influences such as big data, SaaS, mobile and cloud technology converging, business is now changing faster than IT can respond. As a result, companies are seeing both a pressing need and an opportunity to provide more self-service capabilities to their business users.
The reality is that the software integration market has not changed much in the last 15 years. Vendors still view integration software as developer tools versus a critical business component. There has been a failure to think out-of-the-box and a lack of acknowledgement that business users are striving to become more self-sufficient. For the software integration market to appeal to the needs of their customers, a paradigm shift within the industry is critical.
Until now, the software integration market has focused on developing their solutions and technology as developer tools meant to provide architects with a way to build interfaces to customers, partners and applications whether they are internal or in the cloud. However, business managers want a faster way to connect with customers, launch new marketing campaigns and enter new markets. The challenge is that today’s IT teams are too constrained, their to-do lists are too large and their tools too inefficient to respond quickly.
The software integration market needs to take note of trends and offer solutions that allow users with a non-technical background to build these interfaces without writing any code, using a drag-and-drop interface that is accessible to more than just the IT department. Savvy business users and analysts will then be able to create connections, access data, configure triggers and map data formats using visual, web-based applications. This is integration for the Facebook generation. This is the codeless future that will upend the software integration market.
While IT departments may find a move to business user focused software potentially disruptive, increasing the accessibility of software integration tools brings huge benefits. IT should view their role not as entities that control access to data, but as enabling timely data access for business users so they can run their business and make decisions. By optimizing software for the direct user as opposed to an IT professional, businesses will experience a faster customer onboarding process, reduce the time to market and accelerate revenue. Much like how Salesforce revolutionized CRM software, the software integration solution needs to be more like a business application rather than developer tool.
Of course, integration interfaces still need to be created in a way that ensures data security and integrity. IT still has to retain control of the process but they can do so by publishing connectors that hide the complexity of security, data validations and complex mappings while allowing non-technical users to map data to simpler, flat formats. This will allow the IT staff to focus on more productive, high value tasks while off-loading the day-to-day operational work to business users.
Business users want an easy to use interface that enables workflow automation -- not a platform that requires advanced knowledge of code and an IT request ticket. Salesforce.com is a great example of a business application that saw challenges within an industry and successfully met them head on. Prior to Salesforce, many CRM systems were often adopted with little consideration for the actual end user or for how sales reps would actually reap the benefits. The primary user of a CRM system is the sales rep -- not IT -- and Salesforce understood that.
The software integration market would do much better if it appealed to their primary business customer. That will lead to more business flexibility and more efficient IT teams. The question is not if, but when, the business user becomes the focal point of deploying business applications.
Originally posted on Wired Insights.