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What is enterprise application integration?

When your software tools and applications are consolidated, you can access to centralised data that supports you to make good decisions about your business and its operations. Learn more about how you can use enterprise application integration to help you achieve cohesive data sets.


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What is enterprise application integration?

Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is the process of connecting your software applications and systems so that they can communicate and share data. EAI is a form of integration focused on your enterprise applications, tools and solutions.

EAI can help you improve efficiencies, identify future trends and work out which areas of your business you need to focus on for growth. A middleware integration tool is used to integrate all of your enterprise applications. The middleware integration tool scans your software and presents data in a standardised format. Middleware can include a number of data integration tools and application servers.

EAI can also involve integrating cloud-based applications and services, which can add an additional layer of complexity to the process.

Effective EAI requires careful planning and coordination to ensure that all applications are integrated seamlessly and that data is transferred securely and accurately. When done correctly, EAI can help you to improve productivity, reduce costs and improve your agility in responding to changing business needs.

Why is enterprise application integration important for businesses?

Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is important for your businesses if you have a diverse information network and infrastructure. Your EAI can coordinate information, enabling data to flow and connecting data from what might seem initially to be incompatible systems.

EAI can help your business to:

  • Improve productivity and efficiency: saving time and resources on manual data entry and cross checking
  • Reduce errors in data sets: because of less reliance on human data entry and input 
  • Make better decisions: through the analysis of easy-to-interpret and consistent information
  • Provide better customer services: because you can access complete customer records quickly and easily

How to scale enterprise application integrations

Another important way that EAI can help your business grow and thrive is through scalability. When you have an EAI framework in place, it is much easier to add any new applications or systems to your network. You don’t need to worry as much about compatibility or how any new systems will work with those older ones. In most cases, your EAI enables you to implement specialised and new software solutions that can easily make up part of your overall information infrastructure. It always pays to check the integration capacity of any new software you intend to acquire. 

What are enterprise applications?

Your business might have any number of enterprise applications already running. Software considered to be enterprise applications can include your:

  • Enterprise Messaging System
  • Payment, invoicing or accounting systems
  • Email marketing platform
  • Service desk applications
  • Content management system (CRM)
  • Customer relationship management (CRM
  • Data reporting, dashboard, analytics or intelligence platforms
  • ERP vs EAI

Many organisations have already recognised the benefit of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Tool. An ERP is used to consolidate information from different sources, but doesn’t necessarily offer true system integration.

Most ERP systems can only go so far in terms of the systems they can span and process. Many businesses have unique and customised apps that have been designated to help them meet specific or unique business needs. However, these systems often operate outside of the ERP tool that has been employed. An EAI tool has capabilities more and complex back end systems.

Types of enterprise application integration

There are several types of enterprise application integration (EAI) that are commonly used to connect disparate systems and applications including:

Point-to-point integration: Sometimes also known as Standard Data integration – combining and collating data from multiple sources into a single, unified format. Data integration can be achieved using tools such as Extract, Transform, Load (ETL), and Data Replication.

Hub and spoke integration: A middleware integration through which software is used to connect multiple applications, through a centralised hub to which other systems are attached. Examples of middleware include bus–based integration such as an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) or a Message Oriented Middleware (MOM). 

Service-oriented architecture (SOA): SOA is an architectural approach that uses web services to integrate discrete applications. SOA creates a standardised approach to data exchange and provides greater flexibility and scalability than traditional EAI approaches.

What are the trends for enterprise application integration for the future?

There are so many possibilities for EAI, and for enterprise businesses there are new developments and opportunities arising all the time. Here are the trends we predict for enterprise application integration:

  • Cloud-based integration
    As data is increasingly handled and stored in the cloud, there are more and more opportunities for businesses who want to bring together from both cloud-based and local networks. Businesses operating in this hybrid storage model have previously found it difficult to deal with data that wasn’t stored centrally. Today EAIs can cope better than ever with content from dispersed points of origin. 
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
    There’s been a lot of hype lately about the role AI plays, and will play, in our lives and businesses. When used for data integration, AI can used to deploy and manage data sets and deal with any unusual, unexpected or outlying data. This ultimately means improved EAI performance and reliability. 
  • API-led integration
    Application Programming Interface (API) led integration involves using APIs to connect applications and systems. API-led integration provides greater flexibility and agility than traditional EAI approaches, and can often be simple and easy to deploy.
  • Easy integration tools
    There is increasing choice when it comes to low-code and no-code integration tools that enable small and medium size enterprise to manage their integration efforts themselves. Easy integration tools enable you to build and manage integrations without requiring extensive programming knowledge. 
  • Real-time integration
    As we covered earlier, real-time integration allows you to access to up to date information from your applications whenever you need it. Real-time integration gives you a clear picture of activity and dynamic reporting.


What are the pros and cons of EAI for businesses?

Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) can provide many benefits to businesses, but there are also some potential drawbacks to consider.

First here are what we consider the pros:

  • Pro: Reduced complexity
    Avoid getting bogged down and stuck trying to manually collate data from what feels like a million spots, files and systems. EAI gives you timely and easy access to information and data that gives you great insight into business operations, transactions and opportunities. Staff can be empowered and enabled to self-serve the data they need to make on-the-job decisions, especially when time is of the essence. 
  • Pro: Increased efficiency
    EAI can reduce manual data entry and eliminate the need to re-enter data into multiple systems, improving efficiency and reducing errors. This in turn reduces the need for manual labour and eliminates duplicate data entry, resulting in cost savings for the businesses.
  • Pro: Enable Better customer service
    An EAI can help you create a single source or golden repository of customer data is created from records related to sales, chats, emails, interactions and website views. This enables you to understand more than ever about your customers.

And then onto the cons:

  • Con: Complexity
    Rolling out an EAI can be a complex and challenging project to implement, especially if you have what are known as “big data” sets where the data is inconsistency and held across multiple servers, in the cloud and sometimes in systems that use unique and unstructured data formatting. As you resolve these challenges through EAI, you may in fact be cementing your reliance on the chosen integration tool and approach, which means you are limited with options for changes in the future. 
  • Con: Change requirements
    Overhauling your data system can also cause challenges when ways of working have been ingrained over a long period of time. Often a complete change project needs to be implemented to prepare staff for the changes and ensure they are on board with what is proposed. In large organisations, there are often challenges around user requirements and implantation processes. 
    Staff may find it difficult to understand why there is a need for integration, and be unwilling or unable to facilitate integration attempts. While staff may have a good understanding of their own requirements, they may be unable to see the bigger picture and the overall vision and need for the integration activity. 
  • Con: Cost
    There can be costs associated with complex EAI projects, especially when there is multiple old and out of date software system in the network. Furthermore, there may be ongoing costs associated with ensuring that data is maintained securely throughout integration processes. You may need to invest in data encryption services to reduce the chance of data breaches and failures.
  • Con: Ongoing Maintenance
    Unfortunately EAI isn’t exactly a ‘set and forget’ tool or a project that ends when you establish an integrated network. Like all technologies and solutions, your EAI will require at least some degree of ongoing maintenance to ensure that integrations continue to function properly. This also means you either need staff that can manage systems, or be able to access third party support when you need it. 

What are the best practices for successful EAI implementation?

Data integration should be approached in a standardised and consistent way, using best practices and established methodologies. This includes using common data models, standardised naming conventions, and consistent data mapping and transformation techniques. Successful EAI implementation requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing maintenance. To achieve successful EAI implementation you should:

  • Clearly define your integration project objectives
  • Build a team of data champions who can help facilitate the project and achieve change outcomes
  • Design a data governance hierarchy and model
  • Analyse all existing data through data mapping and detail which enterprise applications require integration
  • Select an established integration approach and type from the options listed above
  • Develop clear integration timelines, and the order in which integrations need to be established
  • Carry out testing to ensure integrations are running as required
  • Provide training and support to users
  • Explain any changes to your customers 
  • Monitor and maintain the integration

How does Pimcore handle EAI?

Pimcore is an open-source enterprise application that provides a number of solutions in one. Pimcore can manage the processes and tasks associated with: 

With all of these capabilities already available in one solution, Pimcore is a great choice as a starting or central application for your business. It provides a fantastic foundational tool, eliminating the need for multiple programs to carry out these process, access and storage tasks. Pimcore uses centralised data and content at its core to strengthen relationships between your business, your data and your customers. It makes an excellent foundation for enterprise operations and is successfully used that the heart of many digital strategies. 

Pimcore can be used to carry out integrations with SAP, Oracle ERP, Salesforce, and almost every external system or application you might have in place, to create a single source of truth within your network. Pimcore can import and exporting CSV data for one or two-dimensional data models. It can also process data through imported and exported in CSV and excel sheet formats. 


Related Questions 

What is data virtualisation?

Data virtualisation allows you to integrate data in real-time and provides a unified view of the data, without requiring a central repository. This technique involves creating a virtual view of the data from different sources without actually copying or moving the data. The data does not have to be transformed. Instead, the data virtualisation tool delivers you the data you need without having to access it from a central repository. Data virtualisation can handle varied data sets in different formats and with differing latency.

What is Business Process Management for EAI?

BPM is a comprehensive approach to managing business processes that includes EAI as one of its components. BPM integrates disparate applications to automate business processes and workflows. EAI and BMP are complementary approaches for streaming data and enabling automations.

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