A Systems Integrator (SI) is the party that puts your web shop orders magically go into your ERP enriched with information from CRM. SI is the one who makes your various systems from various decades related to SCM seamlessly work together. SI is the party that technically automates your business processes. With a wave of a wand, old legacy systems from late 80´s speak with your new high-end SaaS solutions.
Engineering in System Integration, is generally categorized as something that requires breadth of knowledge rather than a depth of knowledge. Integration engineer must know various interface protocols, markup languages, transform languages, tools, business-area specific standards, integration platforms, specialized development patterns just to name few characteristic requirements of a good integration engineer. In addition he or she must understand what all those acronym-spells, mentioned in the beginning of this post, really mean – and tens of more. Not to mention that interface knowledge of major systems used in last 20 years can’t hurt when tying together systems and processes pieces of large enterprise. Being a specialist in EAI means that one must be a generalist in wide variety of related technologies and a specialist in integration platform and integration technologies.
If you think that all you need is a group of these generalist-specialist-wizards and your integration will happen – well, you are wrong. What most people don’t see is that integration is not just about technology. Integration engineer can put two system to speak together if he or she knows both the interfaces, how the data is mapped – what field corresponds with what between systems – and what rules must be applied when data is mapped. As there are some parts that are general in data mapping and rules, there are always lots of company specific uniqueness in both. In what meaning the data is used in source system and is it used same way target system? What business rules must be applied and what to do if data does not apply to these rules?
And integration is not a simple soup with few ingredients – there is not just one party to design integration with. SI must communicate and understand all details with customer whose business processes SI is automating and all the system supplier parties whose systems are sources and targets of integration. It’s always a multi-vendor soup spiced with business rules and variations how and in what meaning the data used in one specific enterprise. What a good SI must offer is a process designer with good communication skills specialized in digging out all integration artifacts, requirements and understanding business processes and it’s needs. When integration is done as a project, a project manager specialized in multi-vendor projects with high pace and quantum of changes is mandatory. To make integration reusable and solution sustainable, engineers – designers and developers – should follow pre-designed integration architecture – add an integration architect to required reserve of specialists. One thing is common for designer, (project) manager and architect – good communication skills are a requirement in these roles.