With the removal of silos, it becomes possible to generate smarter computing. But with so many cloud-based applications supporting the dreaded information silos within an organization, this can be hard to achieve. That's because new applications are coming out so quickly that do not have the ability or the consideration to integrate with enterprise applications, thereby acting as an information silo. From shared and common user permissions to back-end integration, there are many factors to consider.
The Problem with Silos
Working within a comprehensive integrated platform rather than through point-to-point integration is the aim of many companies these days. Of course, information silos are nothing new. In fact, many large company IT departments have been dealing with on-site enterprise application integration projects for several years now. But with more and more cloud offerings entering the picture, silos are deconstructing not only the processes but the data within them.
What does this do? It decreases the overall functionality and efficiency of the organization, translating to lost time and money. Specific problems brought about by this misalignment include issues involving shared/common user permissions, integration to show information inside other applications, and back-end integration to cloud application to re-purpose data for other purposes (e.g. dashboards). You may already feel this if the spreadsheet has becomes the data consolidation point for cross applicaiton data.
Data integration is nothing new, but when you toss in the design flaws of SaaS, you're left with individuals islands that aren't designed to share data amongst each other, points out InformationWeek. But, luckily, there are some solutions to this dilemma that can make your apps work in conjunction seamlessly. This same source cites 43 percent of respondents in a recent survey said they are using SaaS applications but cite deployment simplicity as a top satisfaction factor yet ease of integration was at the bottom -- despite their checkered experience with information silos that cause problems with anything from identity management to user access requirements. With all these SaaS applications creating problems ranging from compliance reporting and business process management to data enrichment and policy application, what's to be done?
The first test with your new cloud application is whether the provider supports the possibility of integration, using public API's or Webservices (XML/SOAP). Yes? You have a fighting chance.
Then it's time to look at what you'd like to monitor, report or automate within your business using data from various sources (a 'data mashup'). It could be as simple as tracking how many emails and phone calls each of your staff receive from each of your clients, or creating a more sophisticated dashboard collating data from many different soruces within the business against common KPI's.
With a little extra planning and forethought, cloud based solutions can provide more benefits simply the overt functionality - data mashups specifically to lessen the gap between the cloud and internal information silos.