How standardizing within your integration landscape simplifies (chain-) integration considerably

Using a standard for application integration could make things a lot easier for your business, for example with connecting to external parties and realizing integrations. A standard describes which data entities are exchanged, which attributes these entities contain and in which steps of a process this happens. In this blog Tom talks about the effectivity of standards and what it can do for your organization.

In this blog

A new project or a change in the application landscape often causes a integration challenge. After all, applications consume data in their processes. Data is often published during this process, which is also sent to other applications. This creates a chain of applications and corresponding integrations for the support of your business processes. Integrations are often customized for those concerning systems. However, using a standard for application integration can make it easier for your company to connect with external parties in your environment and realize integrations.

Why a standard?

A successful integration between applications demands an agreement for the protocol by which and format in which data is exchanged. A description of the exchanged data is set in a data model. This data model enables interpretation and validation of data. Applications often differ in the definitions that are applied. Experience shows that organizations often send the same substantive data, while there is a great variety in the layout of this data. This makes sense as organizations optimize within their own context. In order to still integrate organizations or applications, custom transformation is often required. Transformation functionalities ensure that applications that use different data models can still communicate with each other. The realization of transformations is often time-consuming and requires a great deal of context-specific knowledge, which increases throughput time and costs for integration with chain parties.

In some cases it’s possible to prevent this customization by using a (market)standard. Especially within markets and sectors it is quite possible to define a high-quality standard because of the great similarities in primary processes within a sector. Using a standard can deliver great efficiency benefits. A standard describes which data entities are exchanged, which attributes these entities contain and in which steps of a process this data is being exchanged. Such standards are often focused on a specific sector, whereby the effectiveness of such a standard often lies in the degree of adoption within the sector.

You could express the effectiveness using the following formula:

effectiveness standard = quality standard X degree of adoption of the standard

A high quality standard combined with no adoption equals to zero effectivity. Naturally, the same applies to a low quality standard with a high adoption. The effectiveness of a standard is therefore a product of the quality of the standard and the degree of adoption.

A practical example

A good example of a sector standard is the “Open Trip Model’’ in the logistics sector. This is a open source data model, which has to promote collaborations between different parties in the logistics sector as a standard. Different software vendors in the logistics sector support a direct integration based on the Open Trip Model. This entails that the interface communicates with the application based on the Open Trip (Data) Model, which means that organizations that use this standard do not have to use a transformation.

OTM model

Using a standard provides organizations the following benefits:

    • Error reduction by uniform communication between chain parties
    • A better collaboration between partners by sharing data
    • Quick onboarding of new customers/partners based on standardized message exchange
    • Quicker time-to-market for new initiatives
    • Increased control and visibility within the data sharing chain

The role of an integration platform

The advantages of using a high-quality standard are proven, however legacy or customization within your application landscape can form an obstacle to implementing a standard. An integration platform can offer a solution because it offers the flexibility to work with different data definitions. By implementing a one-off transformation between the standard and the specific data model of an application, it is possible to communicate in a standardized way with chain parties. A commonly used solution for this is an API gateway. An API gateway enables organizations to offer data to chain parties in a standardized manner from one central location, wile the underlying systems speak a different language.

API Gateway

As a result, organizations can still benefit the standardized messaging, including simple and fast communication with chain parties.

When there are any other message patterns such as IoT-like data flows/streams (for example on-board computers and GPS systems) or monolithic software in the IT landscape, the other patterns that are present in a iPaaS, such as messaging or event streaming, can be a solution to still be able to adopt a standard.

In short, there are plenty of reasons to implement a standard and start working on digital transformation.