Application integration is a general term used to describe the process of combining application data, resources, and workflows from more than one application to improve business efficiency. While the definition of application integration sounds simple, its practical uses are crucial to running businesses today, providing businesses with the opportunity to be productive and efficient through faster processes, better information sharing, and smarter workflows.
Enterprise application integration (EAI) is the use of technology and services to enable the integration of business processes, workflows, and databases across all of an organization’s systems. Especially where older, legacy systems are responsible for some business roles and newer applications handle others, it is imperative for organizations to find solutions that enable all of their existing enterprise applications to communicate and share data.
A business may use enterprise application integration services to create a middleware framework to help them better integrate vital systems, such as customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence (BI) applications, supply chain management (SCM), payroll, and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
The goal of effective enterprise application integration is to ensure that the information used by a business is correctly stored, transmitted, and reflected by all its applications. If an application and its data does not interact with other systems or middleware, it’s called a siloed application or a data silo.
There are different uses for EAI, but one of the most fundamental is to consolidate enterprise data and information into a single, unified view. Other functions include vendor independence, the extraction of business rules that can be implemented into an application, and a consistent interface, allowing employees to use a single software system.
EAIs are implemented in two main patterns, mediation and federation. The former, mediation, means the application integration acts as a “mediator” between multiple devices (intra-communication), relaying information from one application to another. Federation refers to an EAI that is responsible for how applications receive information from external sources (inter-communication), ensuring that each application only receives the relevant information.
Enterprise application integration is usually applied when a new application connects with an old one, or when a new software application is used to replace an outdated one. For example, if you need to connect a new price quoting software application with an older CRM application, middleware software can be used to help you consolidate your systems. With today’s businesses utilizing dozens of applications, applying effective application integration is essential for seamless workflows.
In its simplest and most practical form, enterprise application integration is designed to improve the connectivity of applications within an enterprise. For example, Sapho Employee Experience Portal surfaces the most relevant tasks and data from across all your existing business system, breaking down data silos and ensuring employees have access to everything they need for work—anytime, anywhere, and on any device. This can lead to smoother workflows, lower overheads, increased productivity, as well as other tangible benefits like employee job satisfaction.