"Nobody thinks that they're evil or bad, they think that they're doing the right thing."
- Andrew McCarthy
This is exactly what happens in an enterprise where a project involves many individuals and/or teams from different departments. And this is especially true when it comes to projects (and consequent decisions) related to IT, Networking and Infrastructure.
Regardless of the number of teams or departments involved in a project, there is a big question that we need to ask ourselves (and answer accordingly!) before finalising any course of action: What issue or issues are we trying to address?
The world is changing and technology is a major driver for that change. Today we are witnessing IoT devices becoming house-hold appliances, satellites navigating drivers, mobile apps analysing heart beat rates and machines conversing intelligently with humans. Moreover, technology is becoming more accessible, with enterprise-grade digital platforms now affordable for small and medium sized companies.
As a result of this extended connectivity, we are seeing a tremendous number of messages being exchanged at various levels -device to device, system to system, devices to systems, devices to humans and so on. Over time, maintaining and managing these messages efficiently becomes a real challenge for any organisation.
Why is this important? Messages are helping organisations across industries understand the behaviour of consumers and build effective strategies to increase market share, become more proactive and/or offer better products and services. Given the importance of these messages to the business, it follows that it is critical for IT teams to manage these messages that are exchanged among various heterogeneous platforms and systems, in a reliable and efficient manner. And integration is the way to achieve this exchange, albeit there are many ways to approach integration.
In correlation to Andrew McCarthy’s quote above, how do we assess what is the right approach given the context? To me, right discovery is at the heart of any integration project. When we know what issue we need to address, the how and the when become more clear (if not more simple).
Systems Integration is the primary focus of this article. Integration that connects the entire ecosystem of the organisation. Gone are the days when point to point communications formed the strategic plans in a network. If you look at today’s communications, messages need to be hosted in certain formats depending on the system or application they are meant to be delivered to. At the same time, there are systems that depend on instant messages. Whilst highlighting integration as a practice, without the right discovery process any such project might fail or not provide the required outcome.
What is 'Right Discovery'?
Some time ago the CIO of a big pharmaceutical called and asked if we have a solution for a new digital eco system for consumer analysis. As representatives of MuleSoft, we replied that indeed we have multiple solutions, but we would need to see their integration discovery results in order to provide them with the best option. The CIO admitted that they had not gone through such a stage prior to looking for a solution, and agreed that we should work together to first understand the issues that need to be addressed before deciding on what the approach and underlying technology will be.
When we do not know the problem, how are we going to solve it? Essentially, integration means connecting two or more systems via a set of standard or formal messages. Now, if we know how to enrich the message so that the source and the target systems exchange information seamlessly, how nice this would be?! What I am trying to say is, we need to deliver a service or create a service that both systems and humans can rely on for a longer time. Adding value in each step of integration, can only be achieved with the input or insight acquired during the discovery stage.
Discovery involves the following steps:
- Problem Identification
- What is the problem?
- Engage business team (get an agreement)
- Problem Analysis
- How the problem is dependent on to 2 or more systems
- Find out the dependencies
- Understand the contracts
- How the issue is impacting the BAU (business as usual)
- How the issue is impacting end user
- Identify Solution Type
- Assess Change Type
- Infrastructure Change
- Change in Business Process
- Change in Design
- Change in Code
- Align the solutions to API Led connectivity
- Transform the solution to API led approach
- Engage business team
- Engage design team
- Plan Implementation
- Engage development
- Engage test team
- Release Integration Discovery document for estimations
In my experience, in the integration world the most successful systems integrations were achieved because they were based on the right discovery exercises.
Rome wasn’t built in a day!
If you would like to find out more about how APIs could help you make the most out of your current infrastructure while enabling you to open your digital horizons, do give us a call at +44 (0)203 475 7980 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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