MTS Blog: Cracking the Code of Integration - Challenges and Benefits
Integration has long been a four-letter word in the medical device industry. Just thinking about integrating one piece of software with another to achieve a larger business purpose agitates many company executives due to the complexity and perceived security risks. Achieving integration requires building a bridge between software solutions, and doing it right consumes valuable time, money, and focus. Even worse, the integration process might not be successful, will likely require additional resources to get right, or might become a project without an end. Adding to the complexity today is the need to effectively connect cloud, on-premise, and social and mobile applications that may use different technologies and protocols.
Until recently, medical device companies had no other choice than to pull their information technology (IT) people off other assignments and put them to work building the integration bridge so their devices could communicate with other systems. This required these IT professionals to spend time gaining new integration expertise and diminished the focus on the company’s core business. Building integrations internally offered many companies a sense of security and control over the process and associated costs, even though it could take more time and money.
That was the status quo until data and application integrators came on to the scene. Experienced integrators, like Jitterbit (www.jitterbit.com), provide an integration platform that is powerful, flexible, and easy to use, saving company executives the anxiety and complexity of leading their own integration projects and instead helps to quickly and securely leverage information from multiple sources.
Integration Poses Big Challenges
For the integration of a range of systems to be fully realized, every data point from every application must be seamlessly connected to the right data point in another application – with any necessary data transformations or workflow steps automatically (and correctly) applied along the way. There are major challenges that companies must overcome before accomplishing this feat.
Moving data between systems requires an understanding of both the different data structures and the rules that govern various data sets in different systems. A successful integration process incorporates the priorities and dictates of data given current and future business practices.
Each system to be joined typically has its own specific application program interface (API), and this set of routines, protocols, and tools will change often. The ability to work with rapidly evolving APIs is critical.
Integration projects do not always go as planned. Redundancy and monitoring tools help determine where, when, and why something goes awry – and make it easy to recover quickly.
Every application brings its own set of limitations to the integration game. Identifying and working around these limitations enables enhanced performance and process optimization, both important for scalability.
The Value of an Experienced Integrator
It is easy to say that employing an integration platform built by experienced professionals, like Jitterbit, is the right solution to integration challenges simply because it can conserve IT resources and accelerate the path to success. Integrators are well-versed in defining the integration process, working with ever-changing APIs, instituting redundancy and monitoring tools, and enhancing performance to enable rapid process optimization. But, the benefits of working with an integrator, whose business it is to solve assimilation challenges, go beyond these basics.
- The integrated system reflects current business practices, but these are likely to change. Moreover, medical device company executives, including those who do not perform technical functions, have the power to drive the process when an integration platform, rather than a coded solution, is built.
- Rather than constantly addressing conflicting APIs, the focus turns to extracting and synchronizing critical data sets as determined by the end-users.
- Testing is done in a staging and production environment that allows for modifications before the integrated system goes live.
- Perhaps the most important benefit of working with an integration platform is that the final, fully integrated system is designed to scale quickly as the company and its infrastructure grows.
- Scalability is baked into the process and the architecture of the integration platform so as not to drain more IT resources as systems grow and change – and handle larger amounts of data.
Why Integration Matters to Medical Tracking Solutions
Companies in a variety of industries manage diverse functions, from sales to inventory tracking to billing, with disparate and often antiquated systems. When the business need arises to better share information across functional areas, many companies embark on a do-it-yourself method. This principle also holds true when it comes to inventory management solutions. While a home-grown system may work, an established inventory management system or application integration platform is far more likely to establish a reliable, seamless connection between systems and create cohesive enterprise-wide connectivity in less time, without straining resources, and with fewer headaches.
Medical device companies employ iTraycer, a comprehensive inventory management system, as a long-term solution, not a short-term fix. Medical Tracking Solutions, the developers of iTraycer, partnered with Jitterbit for the same reason. As a leading cloud integration software vendor with tens of thousands of satisfied customers all over the world, Jitterbit offers clients a proven integration solution that streamlines a once-tedious process and quickly puts iTraycer to work. The long-term value, though, is that a medical device company can deploy iTraycer as part of an enterprise-wide system that delivers actionable information and scales automatically as the company continues to grow.
Francis Bacon said “knowledge is power.” The end goal of any system is to collect, discern, disseminate, and leverage information. iTraycer enables medical device companies to achieve 100 percent visibility into their inventory for the purpose of making critical, fact-based decisions with real-time information. An integrator, like Jitterbit, enables iTracyer to become a vital tool in turning information into knowledge and knowledge into power.
- Jonathan Tillman, Chief Operating Officer at Medical Tracking Solutions