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    Software Integration: Benefits and Best Practices

    Software Integration (1)

    Using various IT components for distinct tasks is a prevalent approach. However, as business operations grow, organizations may find themselves overwhelmed by tons of disjointed software incapable of exchanging data and collaborating. This is where the system integration steps into consideration.

    To help organizations meld separate pieces of software effectively, this article covers everything about software integration, including components, benefits, and best practices.

    What is Software Integration?

    Integration refers to the process of connecting multiple software into one cohesive infrastructure, with the purpose of streamlining business processes and making them more efficient. 

    Disjointed software solutions often result in data being overlooked and insights failing to be shared among teams. Thus, the common use of software integration services is for businesses to create seamless communication between multiple platforms, such as a banking app connected to ATM systems for cardless withdrawal. In this case, engaging a software development team to help out with the necessary architecture is worth considering.

    Common Types of Software Integration

    Software integration can be categorized in different ways; one of the common methods to achieve connectivity between separate systems is through “connectors”:

    • Application programming interfaces (APIs) are among the more frequently deployed system integration technologies. They offer a direct method of connecting two systems, enabling the transmission of data and functionality in a standardized manner. 
    • Integration services components (ISCs) utilize a server to connect various systems with their localized management tools. This method of systems integration is suitable for companies seeking access to their complete dataset without importing large files.
    • Webhooks, also known as HTTP callbacks, are real-time messages sent from one system to another upon the occurrence of specific events.
    • Orchestration is the most automated system integration methodology, managing complex scheduling duties across various subsystems, significantly enhancing operational efficiency, and simplifying data flows.

    1. Legacy system integration

    Goal: connecting modern applications to existing or outdated systems.

    Many corporations rely on outdated software to execute essential business operations, which cannot simply be replaced due to its vital role in daily workflow. Instead, legacy systems can be modernized by using APIs, webhooks, and shared connection components to synchronize existing investments with new tools.

    Example: Connecting a legacy CRM system to an online banking system.

    2. Enterprise application integration (EAI)

    Goal: unifying distinct sub-systems within a business environment.

    Some categories of enterprise application integration include vertical or horizontal integration and point-to-point integration. The objective here is to provide multiple functions from separate apps in a singular environment. 

    Example: creating one ecosystem of banking platforms, including Mobile Banking Systems, Fraud Detection Systems, ATM Connections, and Loan Organization Systems.

    3. Third-party system integration

    Goal: broadening the functionality of the existing software.

    This is an ideal option for organizations aiming to upgrade their software's functionality without investing in an entirely new platform.

    Example: integrating an existing banking application with online payment systems (PayPal, WebMoney), online video streaming services (YouTube), etc.

    4. Business-to-business integration

    Goal: connecting software in an organizational manner.

    B2B integration streamlines transactions and document sharing between companies, fostering improved collaboration and trade with suppliers, customers, and partners.

    Example: connecting online banking systems with loan organization systems from other financial institutions.

    Benefits of Software Integration Services in Banking

    Integration enhances business efficiency by facilitating improved communication and sharing of relevant information among different systems. Often, integration reduces errors and minimizes redundant tasks, optimizing productivity.  Additionally, integration simplifies the workflows by providing easy access to customer data and enabling seamless interactions through a unified interface. 

    In the banking industry, software integration delivers a win-win scenario for both banks and customers.

    Benefits for banks

    • Up-to-date data availability: Through integrated banking systems, banks acquire real-time and precise information across many departments, facilitating collaboration and informed decision-making. Fintech integration ensures timely access to accurate information when needed, helping eliminate outdated and disparate information.
    • Decreased manual errors: Efficient data flow between systems reduces the requirement for manual data entry, thus minimizing the likelihood of human errors. This improves data accuracy and reliability, ultimately enhancing operational efficiency and compliance with regulations.
    • Improved decision-making capabilities: Integrated banking solutions offer consolidated data and extensive insights, resulting in a complete perspective on the institution's performance and customer behavior. With this information, banks can make strategic decisions driven by data, streamline processes, and quickly adjust to market shifts.

    Benefits for customers

    • Personalization: With centralized customer data from separate systems, financial institutions can gain comprehensive knowledge about their users’ preferences and behaviors, which allows businesses to customize their service efforts and target offers that resonate with each individual customer.
    • Seamless digital experience: Integrated software streamlines transaction processes, enhancing the speed and convenience of banking experiences. This seamless process also helps users save time and effort.

    Best Practices to Implement Software Integration

    Organizations can achieve automation and complete visibility into their business operations through data and process integration. However, integration projects can be among the most difficult to implement since they often involve diverse user groups and technical challenges, spanning from data migration and integration management to process automation and service management. 

    To ensure effective integration and expedite return on investments, it's essential to follow a few critical steps.

    1. Have a Plan and Feasibility Analysis

    Every integration process begins with the evaluation of the software to be integrated and mapping out a realistic strategy. Therefore, businesses should clearly identify the platforms that need to be integrated and the shared data, possible risks related to the integrations (i.e., data loss), as well as the budget and available resources for the integration project.

    For the BFSI industry, having a thorough strategy is an advantage, A well-defined bank integration strategy is important before initiating any integrated bank technology project. This includes conducting a comprehensive assessment of current systems, defining bank integration objectives, and outlining a step-by-step implementation roadmap.

    2. Keep Security Top of Mind

    Your integrations probably hold sensitive business data and personally identifiable information (PII). Unauthorized access to either type of data may compromise your compliance with data privacy regulations, damaging your organization's reputation.

    To reduce potential issues, proactive security measures can be implemented, which comprise encrypting data during transmission and storage, utilizing secure authentication methods like OAuth 2.0, and maintaining logs to audit integrations over time.

    3. Test the Integrated Software Frequently

    To ensure seamless interaction among different modules and accurate data transmission, it’s essential for businesses to perform integration testing regularly. Companies can use System Integration Testing ( SIT) to validate the interactions of software and all the system parts.

    For a digital banking application, potential integration test cases include:

    • Testing the integration with the payment gateway
    • Verifying the interaction between the app and the ATM system to ensure seamless functions such as cash withdrawal and deposit, account balance inquiry, cash, and check deposits.
    • Testing the integration between the UI and the policy management system.

    4. Adopt a Unified API Solution

    When developing integrations for customer interaction, software engineers may encounter challenges in meeting the diverse demands of customers.  Since users may seek connections with various app categories, and within each category, they may use multiple apps, it can be challenging to keep pace.

    To address customer integration requirements efficiently, investing in a unified API solution is worth considering.

    5. Consider Engaging a Trusted Partner to Help with Integrations

    Engaging an expert partner can support the execution of an effective integration strategy, which is particularly vital if your internal resources lack the necessary skills.

    If you're aiming to elevate your business through updated systems, collaborating with professionals in software integration services is worth considering. They can aid in establishing smooth communication between multiple platforms and maximizing the utility of your current software investments.

    How KMS Solutions Can Help

    Our experts boast over 13 years of experience in streamlining integration processes and maximizing efficiency. For the custom integration solution, we aim to minimize the development workload on the client’s part. With deep expertise in creating effective, integrated platforms and service-oriented architecture, our integration consultants have a proven track record of delivering enterprise-grade software solutions.

    Have an integration project that needs to be scaled? Contact us now!