As the world gets smaller and services continue to become more interconnected, the word integration gets thrown around a lot. The term is more than just a buzzword and is the cornerstone of the digital transformation we are seeing today. In the fintech sector, data and application integration are two of the most common ones that are used to keep things running.
This begs the question: which one is better?
Data integration is the process of combining data from various sources into a single, consolidated whole. It starts with the ingestion process and includes stages like cleansing, ETL mapping, and transformation. Data integration is generally batch-orientated and deals with data at rest.
In other words, the process that creates the data has already finished. This kind of integration allows analytics tools to produce effective and practical business intelligence. For example, retail stores need data integration for managing inventory, keeping track of sales, and keeping track of their employee records.
On the other hand, application integration is the process of enabling separate applications (each created for its own purpose) to work with each other. By merging and optimizing data between different software applications, organizations can achieve integrations that upgrade their infrastructures and enable fast and agile business operations. In short, it integrates operational data among multiple applications in real-time.
Application integration takes the cake when comparing the two, even though they both have their own uses.
But why is that? The three reasons mentioned below explain why application integration has more use in businesses, especially during recent years.
1. Instant Results
We’ve reached a point where we need results within seconds and so speed is a major factor when analyzing how practical each kind of integration is. Data integration happens after the fact and often in either inter-day or intraday batches.
This takes time that most businesses nowadays do not have. The data from the integration is needed to examine how the business is performing if there are any issues that need to be addressed, and influence decisions that are made in the future. With all the competition around, companies can’t afford to wait for this data. Application integration works in real-time and delivers data and information almost instantaneously.
2. Flexibility and Agility
Applications must respond to the latest data feeds, changes, and new applications much more quickly to stay agile. Instead of taking days or even weeks to transfer data from one application to another and adjust to the new data accordingly, businesses need to respond in minutes.
A high level of agility is needed for businesses and services to stay afloat. Application integration software can send data between several OLTP (online transaction processing) applications, from one point to another, at a time. In one process a certain application can act as a source, while in another, it serves as a destination. You simply cannot get this sort of flexibility from data integration.
3. The nature of application data has changed
Software as a Service or SaaS has changed the way we look at and use application data. Data tended to be locked away in databases behind firewalls and had limited access. While this still exists, data is also split or fragmented between SaaS applications too. To access the SaaS data, we need the services of an API, since fragmented data cannot be retrieved through the database. And this requires the use of application integration instead of data integration.
Also, applications have become easier to deal with, thanks to the advent of APIs and services like MuleSoft. Open APIs tend to greatly reduce the complexity of integrating applications in real-time. Cloud platforms also provide a new kind of clarity for integrating applications for live exchanges.
Does all this mean data integration will become obsolete?
To make a long story short, no. Data integration will always be around since businesses need things like MDM and data cleansing. However, application integration will take center stage since it is the only way the world can keep up with the rapidly evolving need for integration. The future for integration is based on applications and real-time responses.
Both application and data integration have their own roles to play in businesses. In fact, companies could not function without either one. However, with a rapidly increasing dependence on connectivity and the need for constant agility, the world will rely on application integration to keep up. Businesses need application integration to beat their competition and connect with clients and partners faster than ever before.
If you want your application integration to be airtight and take your business off the ground, investing in a great MuleSoft Consultancy would make all the difference in the world.