First, I am not trying to be an English teacher. I'm simply trying to clear the air about a most powerful word in the use of bank systems. Even Wikipedia didn't get it right, or more accurately, didn't define it completely. You decide.Enterprise application integration, also known as systems integration, is the use of software and computer systems to bring together a set of enterprise computer applications. My objection is with the term "bring together." That would work for "interface," but integration is a whole lot more complex. Integration means the weaving together of smaller applications to a "mother" application to produce a product that looks like it was designed by one team of designers from Day One. It's like the dying breed of invisible weavers who could repair a cigarette burn in your worsted suit so that it disappeared. Today, a new suit at Wal-Mart would cost less. If Don Dillon and Dale Jensen were reading this blog, I think they might bring themselves to emit a loud cheer as if they were attending a Cornhuskers game. They knew the real meaning of integration in 1975. So to set the record straight, I would suggest people should focus on who is using the word. Here are some guidelines:
Businesspeople: They are referring to integrating like departments of two companies after a merger occurs. For example, consolidating or combining would be better words. Two accounting departments into one, two human resources departments into one, two retirement plans into one, two marketing departments into one and a half, two legal departments into one, two investor relations department into one. That job should take 90 days. The integration I care about takes forever-meaning it never gets done completely.
System Expeditors: They use a lot of one tool-glue. I'm not suggesting that's bad. There are some very powerful industry products that were built as stand-alones that can now serve their users regardless of the core system in use. In that case the glue is called "interface." The best-of-breed application maintains its own integrity and the core system builds a bridge to get it across. Call it what it is, but don't call it integration.
Salespeople: Fuggetaboutit! They have been reading my blogs and know integration is the sweetest word in bank tech jargon. So everything they sell is "integrated." And burn every sales brochure. It's as if Bernie Madoff wrote the copy.
Art Gillis: In a systems context, integration means all the pieces of the whole conform to one architecture; one set of standards; one look, such as screen formats, tran codes, reports; and, hopefully, one designer. It's a noble goal but you'll never achieve it. Some of the best bank systems today are not fully integrated because of what I call natural reasons-death of the designer, acquisitions, best-of-breed solutions, and time. Do you think the Hogan Deposit System is fully integrated today? I don't even know if Bernie Hogan is still alive.