All You Need To Know About App Integration: Challenges, Benefits, and Best Practices

Almost everyone uses app integration in their work. The business needs to ensure that all applications can share the data and work together in one environment. Application integration became essential in business digitalization, transferring data between users. Let’s discuss its most significant challenges and the best practices.

What is Application Integration?

Let’s start our discussion by answering the most common question. App integration is a process that ensures that different applications can work together, communicate, share data and solve business needs.

The integration goal is to ensure efficient communication between apps to cut costs and provide scalability and better productivity. It is an integral part of effective business operations, as it allows them to use different apps’ functions across the enterprise infrastructure. Each business relies on various applications – older on-premise systems and new cloud-based solutions. It is possible to find a ready app integration solution in some cases. But for more complicated and advanced development, companies need to have a custom integration.

There are four levels of application integration that can overlap to ensure a complete solution:

  • Presentation integration connects all apps into one application. It is also known as “screen scraping” – using transitional software for information organization. It is also the oldest type of application integration solution.
  • Integration of business processes. This app integration type focuses on connecting the essential business process to local and cloud servers.
  • Application data integration is the most basic level of integration that ensures the apps can share the data for efficient operations. That can be done with code that allows apps to “speak” the same language. Another methodology uses translation to convert the data from each application to an understandable format for everyone. We will look at the specifics of data integration more in-depth in the next section.
  • Communication-level integration. This integration level can be achieved using APIs (Application Integration Interfaces).

Essential Components of App Integration

The next important thing to outline is what components you need to orchestrate an efficient app integration. We already briefly mentioned some of them. But let’s look at each element more carefully.

  • Application Integration Interface (API) is a set of rules and procedures that allows apps to communicate. It is an essential component for developers that ensures adequate access to different types of software. API is widely used nowadays in app development, as it scales the products and allows other users to integrate it with their solutions.
  • Actions and Events is another critical component of app integration software. It can be a set of standardized functions, such as database update, or specific functions, such as creating a new ticket in the system. In this case, we speak about events of your connected applications (for instance, payment receiving) and the following action your app initiates as an answer.
  • Data mapping: This component of integration facilitates data exchange and analysis. The principle is quite simple – it defines the type of data to map in the applications. When you add some information in one program, it automatically matches the information from another app to determine the same data (name, status, address, etc.).

Different Approaches to the App Integration Process

Before we jump into a discussion of the benefits and challenges of app integration, let’s outline the most commonly used approaches to this process.

First of all, the integration can be done by the following methods:

  • Synchronous integration – the application requests another app and can not continue the operation without response. This methodology is often used for sequential processing, but it can take time if your middleware is not optimized.
  • Asynchronous method – there is no need to get requested data from another app to continue the operation. This approach is more scalable.

We consider the app integration from different technologies and services. In this case, we can define the following approaches:

  • Point-To-Point Application Integration. With this approach, you create a custom connection between applications for each business area. In some cases,the number of connections can be hard to manage, as the app has more and more integrations. Also, if you work with a cloud application integration, you will update your app two or three times a year. It means that with this approach, your company will be involved in a circle of regression testing.
  • iPaaS or integration platform-as-a-service. This cloud-based approach connects all your data, applications and processes. It allows integration in the cloud between cloud and on-premise apps and data. It means that the company does not need any hardware for this type of integration. This approach is widely used for migration data between applications across the organization. Moreover, you don’t need much programming knowledge to launch such a type of integration.
  • Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). It is the optimal integration solution for on-premise integration in large companies. In this case, the integration app is used as a hub to connect other apps. You can exchange the data in real-time. ESB is the best solution for EAI that routes messages between apps. Traditional approaches for EAI include custom development. It can also be done as on-premise, SaaS, or application-to-application integration.

The Biggest Challenges of App Integration

One of the best ways to ensure efficient integration is to write custom code for it. But when the number of apps grows, it becomes difficult to manage a set of manual integrations. And this is one of the biggest challenges for application integration services. The integration process is not as simple as you may think. It is not enough to just connect the applications for practical work. You also need to understand the business process to ensure correct data mapping.

Companies need to have an appropriate integration platform that will fit their business needs, scale the operations and ensure efficient app operations. Without such a platform, they will face the challenge of complicated custom resolutions that do not work with their business. Also, integration can slow the data and business flow, as one-off integrations increase the time you spend on app adaptation.

Why Your Business Needs an Application Integration

The integration process can be complicated and challenging, but it also brings many benefits to businesses. Let’s look at them!

Fast data access from anywhere. When you integrate all the company’s applications for running the business, you will get a chance to access any type of data you need from any location. It is probably one of the biggest pros of integration.

  • Process scalability. App integration allows us to use advanced technological solutions for business needs and ensure that those solutions will communicate with critical data. It is also an easy transition to new technologies.
  • Process automation. There can be a lot of different processes in an enterprise that can be automated with integration software. For instance, you can save time on onboarding and partner configuration processes by reusing map templates.
  • Data visibility. Efficient data integration will underline essential data for improving users satisfaction. It also can improve business productivity, as the company will be able to track and report the data through the workflow.

What to Consider When Choosing the Right Integration Solution

The best way to launch a successful integration is to partner with reliable and experienced IT developers. At the same time, we would define a few things companies should consider looking for in the best app integration solution:

  • Can the software be integrated beyond the cloud?
  • Is it flexible?
  • Does it accommodate a variety of integration skills?
  • Can it connect a wide variety of end-points?

It will often be challenging to find software that fits all business needs. In this case, the best option is to create a custom integration solution.

Final Thoughts

One of the most effective ways to unlock the potential of all applications the company uses is to implement app integration. Although there are some application integration problems you can face, it can be highly efficient for business improvement.

Cprime provides custom application integration solutions on-premise and in the cloud. Contact our specialists to discuss your use case.

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Maxwell Travers, Content Contributor
Maxwell Travers, Content Contributor