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Liaison Technologies 2019 Predictions: Top 3 Data Integration and Digital Transformation Trends to Watch in 2019 and Beyond

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2019.  Read them in this 11th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Bob Renner, CEO of Liaison Technologies

Top 3 Data Integration and Digital Transformation Trends to Watch in 2019 and Beyond

Digital transformation gives companies an edge by improving the customer experience, promoting operational excellence, facilitating product or service innovation, and continuously increasing customer value. For these reasons, digital transformation is a top objective for CIOs. Gartner's 2018 CIO Agenda Industry Insights report found that CIOs ranked digital transformation among their top three goals in 11 of 15 industries surveyed. 

With digital transformation more firmly established as a "must-have" rather than a "nice-to-have," business leaders are moving on from the debate about whether to go all-in on digital business and instead choosing routes to get there. Three data integration and digital transformation trends that gained momentum this year and will play out in 2019 and beyond will be critical to resolving the transformation dilemma. Here's an overview of the trends:

1. DIY is dead. For years, industry players and leading analysts portrayed the Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) space as an exclusively self-service domain, with vendors providing tools that so-called "citizen integrators" could use to integrate data from various sources. It was never a sustainable trend, since it was akin to assuming homeowners will take a DIY approach to increasingly complex and high risk projects like electrical wiring or plumbing. They may give it a try, but after the complexity emerges, they're likely to hire a certified electrician or plumber to handle things.  We see data integration getting more complex, mission critical and data privacy and security compliance adding to the risk of DIY.
2. Modern monoliths emerge. Another significant trend feels like déjà vu as industry giants like Salesforce and others start to pull integration, data ownership and data residency into their platforms as a core offering. It's reminiscent of the game plan companies like SAP, Oracle and even EPIC (in healthcare) followed, which trapped data and ultimately made it hard to adopt new innovative applications outside of these increasingly closed application ecosystems.  These leading product vendors ultimately took their "data control" ambitions a step too far for many of their customers.

The MuleSoft purchase seems to signal a major shift for Salesforce, which had previously presented itself as an agnostic platform with third-party integrators and open APIs. Now it appears Salesforce and other industry players are looking to control the ecosystem more closely and own the connectivity to authoritative data sources. The shift is likely in response to increasing competitive pressure from cloud computing platforms like AWS and Google.

3. A bright line forms between application-centric and data-centric strategies. In a related trend, industry players are choosing sides between application-centric and data-centric go-to-market strategies. It's not quite as bright a line as the demarcation that bisects the political spectrum, but it's beginning to feel like a similar divide, with everyone choosing one camp or the other.
Industry players including iPaaS vendors, integration and data management platforms and API integration suites serve as neutral brokers between data sources and applications because that gives business customers the ability to choose best-of-breed applications to meet their objectives, without locking them into specific application ecosystems. This is a classic data-centric strategy placing a company's data assets at the center of the information technology (IT) architecture. There's considerable innovation in the application space, and businesses can take advantage of that as they seek to deploy digital assets for business transformation and increased customer value. 

Like the days of the monolithic application suites, the application-centric strategy relegates data assets to constrained artifacts of these systems and data integration tuned to the dominate business applications.  In the end the choices remain the same - companies make a decision about whether they want to remain flexible and choose which applications meet their needs or go all-in with an application ecosystem, which is inherently limiting.

Companies will continue to face multiple challenges and choices as they digitally transform. The scarcity of IT professionals is among those challenges, with unemployment across the board currently at historically low levels. In the IT field, there are more open jobs than skilled professionals to fill them, and tightening restrictions on H-1B visas may make the problem more acute, particularly for companies that choose to handle data integration and management in-house instead of selecting a managed services approach with a vendor.

The end of DIY, the emergence of modern monoliths, and the growing schism between application- and data-centric strategies may prompt enterprises to tackle the challenges of data integration and data management in new ways by choosing innovative platforms that free them to focus on getting more value out of their data rather than on the technical implementation and maintenance of integration. For that reason, these three trends bear watching in 2019 and beyond.


About the Author


Bob Renner is one of the founders of Liaison Technologies and the company's first employee. As President and CEO, and a member of the Board of Directors, he guides corporate operations, strategy, and acquisitions worldwide. Bob earned his Master of Business Administration degree from Emory University and his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from California State University (Fullerton).

Published Thursday, November 08, 2018 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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