On broad terms in the IT world, a Systems Integrator (“SI”) is regarded as a company that specializes in implementing, planning, coordinating, scheduling, testing, improving and sometimes maintaining IT systems. However, in terms of system integration, the role of the systems integrator is narrowed down to enabling the data integrations between the different existing systems of the end customer defined in the project scope. This may mean anything starting from simple internal point-to-point connections to very complex many-to-many integrations both internally and with third parties.
The systems integrators role in this equation is normally to design, implement and test the integration solution, but the role of the systems integrator may also include continuous management of the solutions as well as contacting third parties to enable connections with them. Most importantly, however, the systems integrator brings to the table integration expertise that the customer is otherwise lacking internally (or has a shortage of available internal resources at hand).
Why Is B2B Integration More Relevant Than Ever?
Business-to-Business integration is by no means a new concept. Some IT-driven companies started implementing B2B Integration projects almost 50 years ago (and hopefully by now some of them have even completed these projects). B2B Integration basically means the integration, automation, and optimization of business processes that extend outside the company firewall. While these processes may vary significantly between them, the one common thing that they share is that the integration of such external business processes delivers sustainable competitive advantage to the organization. Such advantages may include:
#1 Real-Time Visibility
#2 Improved Automation
#3 Inventory Optimization
#4 Improved Customer Satisfaction.
Companies have recognized that having good software solutions is simply not enough. They may be using the most functionally-rich software applications within their own firewall (or in the cloud), but without proper B2B connectivity and associated capabilities, they cannot effectively manage, e.g., their end-to-end supply chain process.
While B2B Integration initially began with large enterprises mandating methods of receiving business information, it quite quickly evolved into the adoption of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standards and later on to other newer technologies such as XML, JSON, etc. Nowadays it seems that every new application has some type of API that allows integration with such application.
However, this leaves the task of actually integrating such API with other systems, and more often than enough most companies simply do not know how to make this happen.
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