Monday, December 13, 2010

Five Ways to Get Immediate ROI from Agile Integration Software

One of the great things about Agile Integration Software (AIS) is that you can install it and start reaping the benefits immediately.  You don't have to change your whole company's philosophy about middleware. Think about AIS as an adjunct to what's already there, and just solve a couple of important challenges quickly.

Don't know what AIS is? Take a look at this:

Here are a few ideas that can prove the value of AIS and bring real value to your company before the rest of the team wakes up.

ONE. Get all manner of data into SharePoint. Empower your SharePoint developers and users with secure access to data from all your backend systems. That means that the people that need to see and interact with data that comes from SAP, Salesforce, and Excel, or a custom application, for example, can have that without even declaring a project. Line of business (LOB) applications built in SharePoint invariably need data from multiple systems, and it all needs to be aligned somehow to make sense together. Try AIS for this. Build a couple of interfaces to SharePoint External Lists - BDC (business data catalog) or to SharePoint Lists and see how it goes. The data is secure, and you can even use the same interfaces to handle write-backs to those systems.

TWO. Rescue a project that is way behind schedule. Chances are that the part of the project that's lagging behind is the integration with other systems. Don't displace whatever technology is in being used, but try a rapid parallel path with Agile Integration. Skip the staging database and get the data live from the systems align it on the fly and send it where it needs to go. This is what AIS is designed to do really well. If you find that the easiest way to get started is to go with a staging database that's in place, then use AIS to get the missing data into the repository quickly. Or build the integration and expose it as a web service in two clicks.. Voila! Then sit back and reap the benefits of success (and be a hero).

THREE. Fast-track your BI dashboard project. Let's say you have a dashboard project that has lots of promise. Maybe you just bought a very cool analytics software package that will allow you to understand your business and the market better so you can maintain your competitive advantage. The vendor delivered the software and gave a two-day training on how to configure and use the cool graphs and such. But now they've gone home, and it's up to you to figure out how to get all the data you need into the tool. The more data that's available, the greater the value of this investment. Big problem. Big project, fraught with all the perils of any integration project. Before you spend a year creating the database, see if the tool is just making a call that could be tied to an AIS that could grab the necessary data, align it, and pass it live to the dashboard. That's definitely faster and a much better solution. Otherwise, at least reduce your population of the staging database by 70% by using AIS.

FOUR. Close your books in half the time. If your company is like most, there are multiple ERP or financial systems as well as inventory systems and even spreadsheets involved in the process of consolidating all of the information required to close the books every month. With a changing environment, new entities must be accommodated or eliminated from the process on a regular basis. Using AIS you can automate the capture and alignment of the information from the multiple sources, but even better than that, you can update the integration in a matter of minutes to reflect the changes in your business from month to month or quarter -to-quarter.

FIVE. Improve the productivity of your IT team. Empower your Data Analysts to configure integration without programming. Free up your programmers from doing repetitive integration activities. AIS can eliminate a tremendous amount of activity that simply does not need to be done anymore. You owe it to your company to take advantage of the value of AIS. Start with new data flows that need to be done rather than initiating a lifelong switchover project.

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