Businesses continue to encounter significant problems in linking together key operational systems, and are looking at new ways of achieving this goal.
A survey from PMP Research, commissioned by IT procurement website EvaluationCentre, shows that the problem of integrating legacy platforms with new systems is an ongoing one.
The majority of organisations polled (40%) reported difficulties in integrating legacy systems with newer applications such as e-business or CRM. Only one in five (21%) reckoned they did this “very well”, while another 30% described their performance as “adequate”. Just 7% claimed to have no requirement to integrate.
A major factor in integration difficulties is the disparate mix of operating systems, applications and databases now in use in many companies. A third (30%) of the survey respondents said they ran a mixture of standalone and bespoke packages. Only 14% had standardised on integrated ERP packages.
The main driver for systems integration is the desire to improve operational effectiveness, according to 84%. The majority (77%) had one central group responsible for co-ordinating all integration activity – a much larger proportion than the 57% who gave the same response in PMP Research’s previous survey 12 months ago.
A quarter (26%) of the sample said they had had to abandon an integration project at some point. Poor benefits realisation was one reason for this, along with changes in project scope, other business priorities and a shortage of specialist skills.
As a result, many organisations are looking at new ways to approach integration. Software re-use emerges as an important consideration, with 60% of respondents identifying it as a key issue for their organisation, and 37% saying that re-use was now more important to their company than it has been.
Almost two-thirds (63%) were using web services technology in integration projects, and a similar proportion (65%) said they were either implementing or considering implementing a services oriented architecture (SOA).
An SOA allows a user to leverage existing software investment by breaking it into re-usable parts and managing those elements so they are available to all for discovery and re-use.
The top two reasons given for moving to an SOA were to make it easier to align IT more closely with business requirements (60%) and to open the way to greater organisational flexibility and agility (60%).
The main stumbling block was seen as the difficulty in managing a mix of third-party suppliers (46%).
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