Today, running any sort of business involves a variety of computer programs and applications. Each of these programs performs a separate, important process, and can come from different vendors and rely on separate systems. Each app may function sufficiently on its own, but synthesizing related processes can significantly increase efficiency.
While interconnecting independent systems may not seem like a high priority, proper application integration can transform how your organization accesses data. This is especially true in industries like insurance, where continuous, accurate data is central to daily operations.
What Is Application Integration?
As the name suggests, application integration refers to the process of making different processes work together. The potential utility of application integration spans a virtually endless range of both business and consumer apps, and integration plays a crucial role in many companies’ data management strategies.
Depending on a company’s needs, application integration can take many forms. In some cases, integrative systems stay in the background, cross-checking data between applications to ensure consistency. Others collect and aggregate data from multiple systems and store them separately, where they can be accessed as needed.
The most sophisticated systems provide an interface that allows users to access and utilize multiple systems through a single federated app. While these are often the most impressive and user-friendly, they may require custom development to seamlessly combine all the benefits of your most-used applications, especially in niche industries with unique software tools.
The Importance of Application Integration
Application integration can play a vital role in an organization’s data management strategy. As we mentioned above, integrated applications allow for data federation. And when handled correctly, application integration can virtually eliminate data silos, which are a common pain point for many businesses.
Another significant benefit of application integration is efficiency. Depending on the number and type of systems being used, users of conventional “legacy systems” may have to hop between three or more separate platforms to perform a single task. Eliminating the need for multiple interfaces by automating integration between processes can streamline these jobs. This frees employees up to focus on vital tasks while eliminating many errors.
The other main benefit of application integration is interdepartmental collaboration. Different teams sometimes use separate software platforms to manage their tasks, and when it comes time to compare or merge workflows, the struggles associated with integration can bring progress to a grinding (and potentially costly) halt.
In some cases, application integration can also extend the capabilities of your current systems. By integrating separate programs with different functionalities, pre-existing systems can reach their full potential with only minor upgrades rather than time-consuming and expensive complete system overhauls.
Application Integration vs. Data Integration
While the results of data and application integration sometimes look the same, there are some key differences. The most fundamental difference between data integration and application integration is how they interact with the systems they integrate.
Generally, data integration is a less dynamic process than application integration. While many modern systems work fast enough that the differences are hard for users to discern, most data integration systems collect data from sources at set intervals. Even when the collection of that data is done on an ongoing basis, the systems collect information without interfering with the host systems’ operation.
Application integration, on the other hand, actually synthesizes different applications’ processes. While this often is for the purpose of data integration, it can also allow separate apps to utilize each other’s functionalities. This brings the potential for even greater benefits than data integration alone. However, it’s worth noting that the potential for issues is also greater, which is why app integration usually requires an expert touch.
Integration and Cloud Computing
Today, the widespread adoption of cloud computing has made integration of all sorts radically easier. In the past, physical hardware connections were required to link systems and devices within a local area network (LAN). Now, not only can systems and databases be accessed remotely with more ease than ever before, true cloud computing allows for an application’s central processes to take place in the cloud, rather than on specific devices. Because databases can be securely accessed from anywhere, data is no longer necessarily siloed by default.
Decentralization has also made integration easier. Some cloud-based applications can be modified with specific protocols for the devices which have access to them, making it possible to create the fully integrated infrastructure that we mentioned above.
Many of the most challenging aspects of application integration can be avoided when the applications in question are designed with the potential for integration in mind. Some developers build programs with relatively free access to modify them as needed. Others, however, are notoriously difficult to make work with applications from other developers.
A potential solution to this issue is opting for a fully customized software solution. Unlike “out-of-the-box” software tools, which may or may not be compatible with each other, a fully custom-developed application can be created to fill your company’s needs from the outset. Not only does this make application integration easier, but it also ensures that you never have to face redundancies or inefficiencies in the program.
Application Integration with Populus
Regardless of which applications your company uses, implementing an effective data integration strategy means finding the right integration partner. Taking the step to automated application integration can transform an organization’s data processes, saving time and money and avoiding costly errors from incomplete or inaccurate data.
Populus offers various services, from data integration and analytics to fully customized applications to manage your business processes. If you’re interested in implementing automated data integration for your business, Populus can help.
Populus Technology is experienced in providing technology solutions to our partners. We help support their growth by managing partnerships and directing our clients to the best third-party vendors in the industry. We also assist organizations in updating and automating their business processes, even creating custom software solutions for unique workflows.
If you need help transforming your organization’s data processes, Populus has the solutions you need. Contact our team to learn more!