One of the issues that has emerged from our data collected so far is the lack of strategy and long-term planning when designing and making integrations to external platforms and other technological resources. Defined as “a long-range plan for achieving something or reaching a goal” by the Cambridge dictionary, strategy in terms of integrations would enable companies and other organisations to have clarity not only on what is sought from an integration but also to think about the long-term impacts of that an integration might have. Overall, an integration should not be seen as a mere one-off event, but more of a long-term relation between two systems, which in addition to setting up the integration also requires maintenance and governance over its lifetime, something which can which can easily last years, if not decades.
Further highlighting the importance of having an integrations strategy, our data also indicates that lack of integration strategy may also lead to the appearance of specific problems, some similar to vendor lock-ins and legacy systems. A good integration strategy should therfore not only look into what is expected from an integration and how that is achieved, but also to inform of the possible challenges linked to the integration, especially in the long run. Furthermore, an integration strategy can also make it clearer for different stakeholders on why the integration is done and how it fits with the other objectives of a given organisation. This would among others facilitate communicationbetween the different parties, which continues to cause problems in integration projects.
Currently we are working on providing organisations something of a toolbox for developing a successful integration strategy. The purpose of that toolbox is to both enable organisations to identify the possible problem areas related to integrations as well as to give guidance concerning the areas and factors that need to be included into the strategy for it to be able to deliver the goals that it is hoped to achieve.