"Integration Competency Center" seems a bit bureaucratic, doesn't it? It's like something you'd find at a university, maybe buried in the basement floor of the Poli Sci building -- or perhaps as a title of a state bureaucracy.
But they don't have to be as bureaucratic as the name sounds. In fact, the reason to create a Integration Competency Center -- aka, an Integration Center of Excellence - is very simple and practical: It can stop your workers from re-inventing the integration wheel with each new project, according to Rick Sherman, founder of Athena IT Solutions:
"...too often each of these project teams feels their needs are different from anything your enterprise has done before. So, they go about re-inventing the wheel and creating a new silo. I keep seeing that happen at my clients' companies where they are implementing MDM and CDI initiatives. In some cases they are spending millions and creating silos of not just data, but also data integration processes. If only they planned and implemented a data integration architecture. If only they had an ICC to avoid making these mistakes."
When you think of it that way, Integration Competency Centers seem less onerous and a lot more sensible.
For a long time, Informatica and other research groups have pushed the idea of an Integration Competency Center as an enterprise tool for breaking down IT silos. A new survey shows companies that have taken their advice are pleased with the results. Companies even report multi-million-dollar annual cost savings.
Gary Reicher, vice president Database Services and Architecture at T. Rowe Price, is among those happy with the results:
"It has yielded significant labor savings in new development and application maintenance while continuing to save on software and hardware costs for new integration projects. Ultimately, the cost per new project continues to decrease while we are able to take advantage of application reuse and speed up time-to-market delivery."
The survey queried 130 Informatica customers in North America and Europe, all with $100 million to over $5 billion in revenues. Forty-three percent either had an ICC or were in the process of rolling one out when surveyed in December.
Those with an ICC in production were asked to rate the success of their ICC on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest. Over 75 percent gave their ICC an average score of 4, citing cost savings, economies of scale, and improved time-to-market on new data integration projects.
Here are two free resources for learning more about setting up an ICC:
Informatica's blog, which ran a series of blog posts last July explaining why you need an ICC, how to generate support for an ICC, and the pros and cons of the four organizational ICC models.
The Integration Consortium, which offers a free online Integration Competency Center Resource Center. The consortium is a group of end-user corporations and individuals, vendors, academic institutions and non-profit institutions. You'll find case studies, online presentations, articles, and links to future training opportunities. You'll need to register to access much of the material, but it's free.