New on the Integration Front

Loraine Lawson

Integration isn't exactly what you'd call a cutting-edge kind of area. So, it's always fun when you find something new and surprising in the space.


Today, I've found not one, not two, but 2 1/2 fresh integration stories for your amusement. One is useful, one is silly, and the half-item is a tiny bit scary-so, there's something for everyone.


Let's start with the useful: Gartner just announced new research on "embedded integration." I tend to think of embedded integration as something involving chips or hardware, but in this case, it's definitely a software-focused integration. Gartner Research Director Deborah R. Wilson writes on her blog this week that the Massachusetts-based research firm is "defining embedded integration as solutions that support structured communication between business partners-when those solutions are delivered by vendors in the software applications business."


Examples include portals, such as SAP SUS and iSupplier Portal, but also networks (e.g., Ariba ASN and Perfect Commerce) and "contingent worker e-marketplaces like IQNavigator and Fieldglass," according to Wilson. It's something the Gartner applications team has "intuitively" known about, she writes, but has only recently backed up with real research data:

Apps vendors are clearly in the business of connecting organizations! And our findings did demonstrate that embedded integration is increasingly significant, relative to the revenues generated by traditional integration solutions from vendors like Sterling Commerce and Crossgate.

In light of this new research, she recommends Gartner clients start to think about a B2B integration strategy.


As a rule, I focus on this kind of integration news-useful, business-focused, solution-oriented. It's my opinion that this next item fits none of those criteria, but it's so quirky and banal, I have to share: General Motor's OnStar communications system, which was developed for things like roadside assistance and calling police or ambulances during emergencies, will soon offer integration with Facebook.


That's right: Facebook. Because you need to know who just found a lost sheep when you're driving down the interstate at 75 mph.


Actually, I'm being unfair. OnStar also announced one major safety enhancement: it will now read text messages to you and allow you to send text messages through voice command. Since studies have found texting while driving is comparable to driving while drunk, this is actually great news for those of us who share the road with you texters.


Finally, for the scary half-item. I call it that because, really, integration is just one part of what ReadWrite Enterprise describes as Google's three-pronged plan for "invading" (their words, not mine) the enterprise. Obviously, this is really only frightening to those who believe Google is hell-bent on conquering the world and exposing all our private data shamelessly online. I have to admit, though, every day there seems to be a better and better case to argue that. ReadWrite Enterprise cites the recent integration of Goggle Voice into Gmail as phase one of this nefarious plan:

Google just got into unified communications by integrating Google Voice into Gmail. For right now this is seen as a consumer technology, but can we really expect that this won't be appealing to increasingly mobile, distributed businesses? Skype's enterprise VOIP solution just came out of beta, and Cisco is supposedly lusting after it. And remember Cisco's weird Android tablet? If Cisco doesn't get Skype, don't be surprised to see Google Call integrated into its own communications and collaboration software.

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