Wednesday 22 December 2010

Integration: your place or mine? Adopt vs adapt

Adopt versus adapt is the central theme in Integration. For the last 15 years, it's been the central question in my working life: who will adopt, and who will have to adapt? It is the most important question, as doing business is not only about mutual understanding and partnerships, but also about flattering "kings, princes and other royalties" and paying respect to the powers in place - politics, indeed.

Trouble always is, whoever is leading in business, expects to be leading in IT too - which leads to painfully ugly IT solutions every now and then

In order to be able to adopt or adapt, there must be something in place. However, Korsakoff seems to pay frequent visits to people dealing with integration. Great business documents like X12, EDIFACT, SWIFT and HL7, the common use of envelopes for proper routing, hub-and-spoke architecture for keeping control over the entire chain in a non-federate scenario, acknowledgements to guarantee delivery: mention it and you'll get blank faces in return

So, people think that there's nothing - just because that is a fair reflection of their knowledge

The vague promises of SOAP, Web Services, XML and WSDL over the last few years, have severely aggravated this. Monoliths like ERP extended and outstayed their welcome by once again covering up their lack of willingness and ability to adapt by yelling: "We're completely Open now, we supply web services" - I've even heard medior and senior consultants proudly claim, and even believe, that.
Web services aren't, never have been and never will be a standard; nor will SOAP, XML and WSDL - those are all stupid attempts at trying to make us all speak Chinese in stead of English with no business goal at all behind it: tech-focused programmers' wet dreams

The result? The enterprise had to adopt the ERP proprietaries even outside the package, bending over backwards to increase their vendor lock-in even more. I bet there aren't even two e.g. SAP web services alike between different customers for the same functionality

I'm now witnessing the same with regards to Social Media and Cloud.
SCRM systems ignore the existing legacy: last time I checked only Lithium supported part of SFDC. Every SCRM vendor seems to think they'll just replace existing CRM systems: they refuse to adopt, expecting others to adapt to them.
Enterprise microblogging tools do the same. Only SocialCast is doing a nice job there trying to integrate it all together, but next to offering integration with Outlook and Seesmic, they expect the rest of the world to speak their (extensively ex-sampled) language offers their dozen or so proprietary XML-based SOAP-wrapped API, including their own Sforce Object Query Language (SOQL) to create search queries. Let's just leave it at that, shall we?

Your place or mine? Let me tell you, being able to adapt to others makes life so much easier. You won't have to make sure your parents aren't home, your room is tidy enough, the bed sheets not too smelly, and not clean up the mess afterwards - how great is that?
Seriously now, life just doesn't work by dictating people and bossing them around. Yes I know that's how it works in religion, politics and enterprises, but those are isolated worlds aimed at keeping everyone captive and far from the outside world

Your future? You'll have to adapt to each and every new kid on the block out there
  • Social media vendors will knock on your enterprise's doors - bearing the gift of their proprietary API, messages and business - what to do with all those free text fields (tweets e.a.)?
  • Cloud vendors will knock on your enterprise's doors - bearing the gift of their proprietary API, rate limiting your access to their (yes) data - how to get all that Cloud data back into your enterprise?
  • SCRM vendors will knock on your enterprise's doors - bearing the gift of their proprietary API, messages and business - is what they call SCRM even distantly related to your CRM?
If you have to adapt to each and every one visiting your place, you might start to feel alienated to your own house

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