With up to 40 years of diverse technology in use, today’s IT environments are complex. Aligning these systems to new business needs has always been expensive, time consuming and difficult. Continuously and rapidly aligning and re-aligning systems has been at best cost prohibitive, and at worst, impossible.
Despite companies spending millions on application integration every year, employees still do not have the integrated access they need to effectively do their job. Traditional approaches to delivering integrated solutions are expensive, difficult to implement and require specialized technical skills. The result is often an inflexible solution that’s difficult to maintain.
Integrating Your Enterprise with Composite ApplicationsWhite PaperUntitled DocumentThe last 40 years of technology investment have produced enterprise and depart-mental applications that are effective at solving particular business problems, and often represented a company s best practices. However, today s business tasks are often fragmented across these functional applications, with data and process-es divided into rigid silos of automation. To accomplish their tasks, employees must toggle between systems or use phone, fax and email to ask colleagues to access business functionality for them. This lack of integrated access reduces employee efficiency and frustrates customers. With up to 40 years of diverse technology in use, today s IT environments are complex. Aligning these systems to new business needs has always been expen-sive, time consuming and difficult. Continuously and rapidly aligning and re-align-ing systems has been at best cost prohibitive, and at worst, impossible. Despite companies spending millions on application integration every year, em-ployees still do not have the integrated access they need to effectively do their job. Traditional approaches to delivering integrated solutions are expensive, dif-fcult to implement and require specialized technical skills. The result is often an inflexible solution that s difficult to maintain. The only way to rapidly and cost-ef-fectively deliver new integrated solutions that support business users is to: " Build on top of existing, proven resources, leaving those resources unchanged and leveraging their valuable business logic. " Expand the number of people who can deliver the solutions. Don t require specialized technical skill-sets. " Simplify and hide the complexity of a company s IT infrastructure, not add to it.The right answer for these issues is a new kind of integrated solution: composite applications. Integrated Application Needs 2 A b o v E A l l s o f t WA r Ewhite paperUntitled DocumentComposite Applications: A New Kind of Integration For most enterprises, composite applications will prove to be inevitable. Gartner Report, October, 2003 (Footnote: Massimo Pezzini, Vice President, Gartner Research, Composite Applications Head Toward the Mainstream, October, 2003.)Composite applications deliver application integration by combining functionality from multiple application silos to power business tasks that span existing applications. A composite application provides its users with a single, interactive interface to complete transactional business tasks, with 360-degree access to key business entities like customers or suppliers. As a result, composite applications enable users to complete their work without having to navigate numerous applications, repeatedly enter the same data or wait on personnel from other functional areas to provide critical information or coordination. Composite applications are designed to solve the following common business problems: " Users must inefficiently navigate multiple systems to accomplish a single business task. " Users don t have complete, timely and interactive access to information about the business entities they work with daily, such as their customers. " Users struggle with data redundancy or consistency issues, where the same or similar data is in multiple systems. " Organizations want to modernize user-interface access to legacy applications or augment those interfaces with new business logic. " Organizations want to extend the capabilities of an existing enterprise application beyond its original functional purpose. Composite Applications in the Call Center Consider the following example of a typical electronics company that struggles with a rapidly-changing business environment due to the competitive nature of their business and the pace of product change. Ab o v E A l l s o f t WA r E 3integrating Your enterprise with Composite appliCationswhite paperUntitled DocumentDigiSonic Inc. sells personal digital video recorders (DVRs) and the subscription services that accompany them. It has a broad customer base that includes consumers as well as demanding OEM customers, and a large call center to handle sales and customer support. The customer service representatives (CSRs) need instant, 360-degree access to information about their products and customers. In an average call, a CSR is expected to: " Access and update a customer s contact details and view purchase history. " Evaluate sales contracts and opportunities in-progress. " Offer customers weekly promotions and premium services. " Confirm and update orders and invoices. " Log issue reports. " Schedule service calls. " Refer to DigiSonic s extensive internal knowledge base, and direct customers to specific entries in the public FAQ. Unfortunately, these functions are locked away in four different, isolated systems that are often difficult for the CSR to access. For example, DigiSonic uses one application to handle customer orders and invoicing, another to handle service call and installation scheduling, a third for storing customer details and histories and a fourth for researching the knowledge base and FAQs. The CSR must log into multiple legacy applications or get assistance with applications they may not know how to use, which extends call times and frustrates their customers. Additionally, the CSR has to enter redundant data into multiple systems to update records. Not only is this re-keying of data inefficient, but frequent data-entry errors cause missed service appointments, incorrect product shipments and other more costly problems down the road. DigiSonic has to react quickly to the rapidly evolving market for DVRs. As new television channels become available, it has to modify its subscription packages and advise its customers of the new offerings. The company needs to manage frequent firmware upgrades to its customers DVRs. Because technology changes rapidly, the company s manufacturing arm is constantly producing upgrades larger storage capacity, higher resolution transfer that need to be sold through to the user base. 4 A b o v E A l l s o f t WA r Eintegrating Your enterprise with Composite appliCationswhite paperUntitled DocumentThe swivel-chair integration, redundant data entry and a rapidly-shifting business environment frustrates the customers, reduces the CSR s efficiency and ability to up- and cross-sell and ultimately lowers profitability. DigiSonic needs a solution that is cost-effective, can retain the functionality of their existing applications and respond quickly to changes in the business environment.The functions the customer service representative needs to access are locked away in four different, isolated systems. Traditional Application Integration The software industry has attempted to respond to the need for integrated applications with tools such as traditional enterprise application integration (EAI) products. An EAI solution can be a powerful way to address certain types of integration challenges but often results in a complex, inflexible, costly solution based on exclusive technology that requires highly-skilled and specialized personnel to build and maintain. Based on their experiences with past integration projects, many companies only attempt traditional EAI solutions when the potential payoff justifies the significant investment. As a result, many needed integration projects are never attempted, leaving users without the solutions that they need. Even when traditional EAI projects are attempted, they often are not the best approach to the business problem at hand. EAI projects usually involve extending existing systems to accommodate data from other systems solely so end users AbovE All softWArE 5integrating Your enterprise with Composite appliCationswhite paperCustomerServiceRepresentativeManagerIssue Trackingervice SchedulingCRM Sales ToolUntitled Documenthave integrated access to data. Performing this unnecessary replication contributes to uncontrolled data redundancy and complex infrastructure companies struggle to minimize, not inflate. These types of integration projects are expensive to implement because they require invasive expansion of an application s data model and re-imple-mentation of user interface code to accommodate the integrated data. The initial costs are compounded further by on-going costs associated with maintaining these modifications through upgrades and future changes. Because of the massive amounts of data that moves between systems, implementations are usually at the data level, bypassing key business logic or forcing a re-implementation in the EAI tool to protect the data s consistency and validity. The end user s access typically becomes a static read only view of yesterday s data because the user is not interacting with the native system nor are they benefiting from the proven business logic of the source applications.Integrating with Composite Applications The agility of composite applications makes them a natural solution for most integration needs. Leveraging existing business logic, composite applications are simple to develop and a flexible means to deliver integrated solutions. Because they are built on top of existing application functionality, leaving data where it is, composite applications avoid the data redundancy and latency issues of traditional EAI. Furthermore, composite applications provide windows directly into existing systems, offering real-time application functionality and interactive access to data and processes, effectively solving the swivel chair integration problem. Because the composite application is presenting to the user information directly from multiple systems, no data needs to move between systems in order to help the user complete their task. Composite applications can also perform required data synchronization in real time, moving just the small subsets of data required to keep the business process moving forward or provide applications the data they need to perform their functions. Composite applications lower the cost and increase the flexibility of integration projects. Other benefits of composite applications include: " More effective business processes. Composite applications provide single solutions that span multiple existing disparate systems to match the way users do their work. The result is a more productive organization that can access data, business logic and processes when and in the way it needs to. 6 A b o v E A l l s o f t WA r Eintegrating Your enterprise with Composite appliCationswhite paperUntitled Document" Extract more value from existing applications. Composite applications are non-invasive so existing code and applications remain untouched the composite application sits on top of the existing IT investments. This enables companies to retain proven best practices and to increase the return on their investments. " Increased development productivity. Because application functionality is being directly utilized, the duration and cost of integration projects are sharply reduced. Additionally, with the right tools, composite application solutions reduce IT requirements because less-specialized skills are required for application assembly. Because of their low cost and rapid development, composite applications make possible integrated applications that previously would not be cost-justifiable. Organizations can now address more users needs with fewer resources.Above All Studio To realize the benefits of a composite application approach, organizations need a new type of tool. Composite applications should be rapidly assembled, not coded, using visual tools that are accessible to a broad set of users. To enable this visual assembly, there are several technical challenges that must be overcome. Accessing application functions exposed as software services through the widest variety of technologies possible, productively interacting with functions that were originally designed for programmatic use, and reconciling radically disparate data models and applications are some of the technical challenges that need to be made transparent to application assemblers. Above All Studio addresses these requirements with a visual point-and-click composite application assembly environment and powerful tools for simplifying the technical complexities of the IT environment: " Catalogs and organizes the functionality of existing applications into a shared repository. Details about application functions exposed as Web and other software services like database tables, stored procedures and Microsoft Office operations are stored in this repository, making them easy to find and use. The repository catalogs items in an easy-to- use business object format that hides unnecessary details about systems and protocols. This repository exists outside of the original applications, leaving them untouched. " Refines application functionality into easy to understand services. With Above All Studio, users can refine the raw application functionality that Ab o v E A l l s o f t WA r E 7integrating Your enterprise with Composite appliCationswhite paperUntitled Document was originally designed for programmatic use by programmers into more useful and understandable services. Refining functionality cuts through the arcane and complex IT environment, enabling less-specialized knowledge workers to assemble composite applications. " Establishes how functionality from different systems can integrate and interoperate. Radically disparate applications were not designed to work with each other. Above All Studio provides visual tools for capturing the implicit relationships among application functionality and also defining new relationships. Once defined, these relationships are available in the repository. Application assemblers easily leverage these relationships without requiring knowledge about the underlying systems. " Provides a visual assembly environment for snapping together available services. With rich, high productivity features like point-and- click tools and wizards, users easily and rapidly snap together composite applications. Composite applications are most effective when those closest to the business problem being solved can contribute to their development. Because the hard technical challenges listed above have been addressed, composite application assembly can be performed by a wider range of users. With Above All Studio, a composite application can generally be assembled, tested and deployed by a small team in a few days or weeks. As a result, a greater number of integrated applications can now be delivered cost effectively integrated applications that were previously unjustifiable when using traditional products and technologies.Composite Applications in the Call Center, Continued The IT department at DigiSonic Inc. decided to assemble a composite application for its customer service department. This application provides complete access to all of the business functionality that the customer service representatives require in the way they require it. Now, when a customer service representative receives a call from a customer, he or she can access all the key systems they need through a single application. For example, the CSR can update a customer s contact details, log an issue report, schedule a service call and promote premium services without shuffling between applications or transferring the customer to a different representative. Additionally, the CSR only has to enter data once drastically reducing errors. integrating Your enterprise with Composite appliCationswhite paper8 A b o v E A l l s o f t WA r EUntitled DocumentBy deploying a composite application, DigiSonic Inc. enjoys these benefits: " 360 perspective on customers Employees are equipped with timely, accurate information to improve decision-making, anticipate customer needs and complete repeat sales. " Increased employee productivity The average CSR at DigiSonic can spend more time selling and less time on administration. " Greater customer satisfaction Customers needs are met more quickly and with fewer errors. All of these benefits add up to greater profitability and increased competitiveness for DigiSonic Inc.Ab o v E A l l s o f t WA r E 9integrating Your enterprise with Composite appliCationswhite paperCustomer ServiceRepresentativeCRM Sales ToolServiceSchedulingIssueTrackingBillingSystemUntitled DocumentAbout Above All Software Above All Software is pioneering tools for point-and-click assembly of composite applications that are based on existing information resources such as enterprise applications, legacy systems and database logic and data. Headquartered in San Mateo, California, Above All Software is currently a privately held company and was founded in 2002. For more information about Above All, Visit our Web site at www.aboveallsoftware.com or call us at 800-819-5530. Further Reading " Beyond Integration: Assembling Business Solutions from Web Services: http://www.aboveallsoftware.com/resources/default.asp " Above All Studio Product Overview http://www.aboveallsoftware.com/resources/default.asp " Composite Applications Head Toward the Mainstream http://www4.gartner.com/resources/117900/117985/117985.pdf " Composite Applications: Separating Value From Hype http://www4.gartner.com/resources/117900/117986/117986.pdf " Composite Applications: Leveraging Assets for New Business Models http://www2.cio.com/analyst/report1726.htmlintegrating Your enterprise with Composite appliCationswhite paper10 A b o v E A l l s o f t WA r EUntitled DocumentOne Lagoon Drive, Suite #110 " Redwood City, CA 94065Tel: +1.650.232.2900 " +1.800.819.5530 " Fax: +1.650.232.2901www.aboveallsoftware.com For more information about how Above All Software can help you solve your integration challenges, please call us, visit our Web site, or email us. 2005 Above All Software, Inc. All rights reserved. Above All Software products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Above All Software, Inc. All other product and service names mentioned are the trademarks of their respective companies. Specifications and product offerings are subject to change without notice. About Above All SoftwareAbove All Software provides award winning business integration software that enables customers to leverage service-oriented architectures to meet ever-changing business needs. With Above All s Composite Application PlatformTM, customers transform existing IT investments into rapidly assembled, high-impact business solutions that can be deployed to multiple environments. This new, flexible service-level approach simplifies and reduces the cost of business integration. Headquartered in Redwood City, CA, Above All Software is a privately held company founded in 2002.