Who Should ‘Own’ Integration?

    If anything should belong to IT, you would think it would be something as fundamental and technical as integration work. Indeed, one of my favorite themes on this blog is that IT can use integration as a strategic lever.

    But I’m starting to wonder if that’s an outdated idea.

    We talk about the democratization of data, but is that even possible without the democratization of integration work?

    Maybe it’s not. In a recent Wired article, SnapLogic’s senior director of product marketing, Maneesh Joshi, points out the four major data challenges that are creating a never-ending integration dilemma for traditional, IT-centric integration:

    • The cloud
    • Big Data and real-time unstructured events
    • Social media
    • Mobile
    Slide Show

    Drivers and Challenges of Enterprise Integration Revealed

    He recommends empowering the citizen developer as one of three essential steps to dealing with today’s never-ending data integration needs.

    “IT organizations must empower the ‘citizen developers’ within the business units with self-service to access the freshest information, while ensuring central IT can retain governance and control,” Joshi writes. “User experience matters and the integration platform must be able to meet the needs of developers and line of business users.”

    Of course, he’s not-so-subtly making the case for SnapLogic’s own solutions, but it’s a point worth discussing: Is integration work so cumbersome and pervasive that it needs to be pushed out to the business users?

    That certainly seems to be where some integration vendors are headed. I’m certainly seeing more pitches that seem to target business users more than IT. And it would seem to make sense, given how many cloud solutions are deployed from the lines of business.

    Dana Gardner of Interarbor Solutions predicted this possibility a few years ago during a Briefings Direct discussion on open, agile application integration:

    “It can’t just go through a bottleneck of ‘beard-and-sneaker guys’ in the back room who can do coding. Integration needs to be part and parcel with process innovation. That means we need to elevate it out to a wider group of individuals, maybe as many as possible that are on the front lines of process innovation and analysis.”

    It seems like this is the obvious solution to an overwhelming problem. After all, the business users are ultimately the ones most affected by integration problems. Why not involve them in the solution?

    I have to wonder how this will work out in practice.

    After all, governance and ownership issues are still involved with data. And time and time again, IT says the biggest barrier to integration isn’t technology, but rather the people and politics involved in sharing data.

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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