What is integration?
Integration is the process of connecting two or more applications so that data can be shared between them and read or edited on any or all connected devices. This is achieved by using a simple connector to pull or push information from one source to another or via third-party software that sits between the two applications. This third-party software is more commonly known as middleware. Middleware "translates" the data being sent from one application so another can read it.
For digital businesses, integration is an increasingly important concept. In the data-driven digital marketplace, ensuring the free flow of information empowers companies to create seamless customer experiences and journeys, facilitate effective collaboration, and coordinate communication across multiple channels.
Is there a difference between interoperability and integration?
Though the terms integration and interoperability are often used interchangeably, there are subtle distinctions in meaning. Both are concerned with ensuring that data can be accessed by various devices and shared quickly and easily. However, the way they do so is markedly different.
Interoperability is the ability of equipment, software, and applications to work together, communicate and exchange data without a user having to adapt their behavior or have any input in the process. It helps create systems in which information can be widely shared, regardless of the technologies involved in sending, receiving, and distributing that information.
Interoperability refers to data exchanges that don't require translation or any middleware. Interoperable systems speak the same language and therefore don't require a connector or third-party software to join the components together.
Is there a difference between integration, interoperability, and compatibility?
While the difference between interoperability and integration is relatively small, the difference between integration and compatibility is much more significant. Compatibility refers to the ability of two or more applications to work independently in the same environment. The two applications don't necessarily need to communicate or exchange data. They simply have to be able to perform their respective roles without negatively impacting the wider system.
How does integration work?
Modern businesses typically utilize several different digital systems to manage their products, customers, and e-commerce operations. These include Product Information Management systems (PIMs), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications, as well as a whole host of other technologies.
Our own Digital Experience Platform, Ibexa DXP, utilizes Rest API and GraphQL protocols to connect the various systems to your existing ERP system or CRM and ensure full integration. The platform also supports custom integration, offering complete flexibility.
Why is seamless integration so important?
Integration is vital to digital B2B companies because it simplifies communication across an organization and equips you with the tools necessary to offer a seamless customer experience. Below, we take a more in-depth look at five key ways integration can benefit your business:
1. Customer information management
Businesses store a considerable amount of data relating to their customers. This information informs business decisions and helps you tailor your content and the customer journey to the client's needs. Consequently, data must be able to move freely between your e-commerce store and ERP or CRM.
Information such as a customer's status, credit limit, and delivery and invoice addresses is relevant to the purchasing process. As they are likely stored in your ERP, you will need to ensure that information can be retrieved from that system by your e-commerce store. Integration enables this information to be transmitted and shared without any manual intervention.
2. Increased productivity
Successful integration can boost productivity considerably. Working with separate applications is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Records need to be manually updated and entered, and the entire process is prone to human error. The more complex a system, the more likely it is that an error will be made and the longer it takes to manage information within that system. Integration eliminates these manual updates, enabling different applications to communicate and exchange data automatically.
3. Reduced costs
By eliminating manual data entry tasks and automating updates, integration reduces the work required to maintain your systems. This helps you cut costs as employees can focus their efforts on more worthwhile, complex work, maximizing their value to the business.
Integrated sub-systems are interdependent, which means they share resources and can make use of data stored in one sub-system. Whereas unintegrated systems require data storage solutions for each of the separate sub-systems, their integrated equivalents do not. They simply share the data.
5. Better buying experience
Integrated systems result in better buying experiences for your customers. Inventory can be updated in real time, ensuring clients have the information they need to make a purchasing decision. Likewise, restocking orders can be automated, custom pricing can be offered, and price and product changes in your ERP are instantly represented in your e-commerce store.
Why Ibexa is your ideal choice
Ibexa is ideal if you want to begin transforming your business but don't want to commit to a large initial expenditure. Based on a modular design, Ibexa DXP ensures that you can add new capabilities when you need to. This also implies that you can integrate Ibexa Content, Ibexa Experience and Ibexa Commerce with your existing systems and harness the advantages of having an interconnected digital ecosystem.