What is application integration?

Application integration is the process that helps independently designed applications and systems to work together. This can help reduce costs, reveal insights, and create greater efficiencies and capabilities for an organization.

Application integration defined

Organizations rarely rely on just a single application, but managing multiple applications—along with all of their data—can be a time-consuming, tedious, and difficult job. For example, a typical large organization can have thousands of different types of applications, such as: packaged applications that customers buy, applications that run on-premises, or applications that are offered as a service (software-as-a-service (SaaS)). Customers are also building their own applications in the cloud. As a result, it can be challenging to manage these different types of applications because they require administrators and resources.

This is where application integration can make a difference. Application integration manages all the integrations between applications in one place, controlling the authentications and authorizations around these integrations.

Without application integration, moving data between applications would be complex and extremely tedious; it would require entering the same data multiple times and would also increase the chance of human error. Application integration connectors have the ability to transform data into a format compatible with an organization’s existing IT architecture so that the data can be entered just one time and connected to multiple applications—without needing to be concerned about whether each application can communicate with each other. This can provide a certain level of flexibility, so that an organization can choose the applications it wants, rather than being forced to buy from a specific vendor.

Learn how to build a basic application integration

The difference between application integration and data integration

While the terms “application integration” and “data integration” are occasionally used interchangeably, it’s important to clarify their differences.

In simple terms, data integration consists of gathering information from disparate sources with the goal of creating a more unified view of the data across an organization. While data integration can happen in real time, it can also happen over time because it collects large amounts of data, stores it, and then processes it in batches. This can assist in moving and analyzing data within applications in order to remove redundancies.

Application integration is typically more limited and tied to workflows between applications. For example, passing lead information from a marketing system into a sales management system. This also typically happens on the individual transaction level. Data integration typically happens at the data storage or database level—where entire tables, directories, files, streams, or other data types are aggregated and transformed as needed.

Application integration terms

  • APIs

    An application programming interface (API) is one of the best ways to integrate applications. An API is a type of software interface that acts as an intermediary for two applications to be able to communicate with each other
  • Event-driven actions

    An event is something that takes place within a series of connected applications, such as a payment being made or a piece of data being uploaded. This event can trigger an event in another system, such as sending an invoice.
  • Data mapping

    When data mapping occurs, it defines how that information will be exchanged and simplifies the process of exporting data for easier analysis and grouping later on.

Top benefits of application integration

Some of the main benefits of application integration include:

  • Data visibility

    With applications integrated across multiple environments, organizations are able to access, measure, and quickly observe data from across the business. This saves time so that employees can focus less on manual tasks and more on discovering insights and working on innovations.
  • Get rid of data silos

    Because applications from different vendors are unable to communicate with each other, data becomes siloed and harder to query. However, application integration allows applications from different vendors to talk to each other, while also sharing data quickly and easily.
  • Reduced IT complexity

    The learning curve is often steep with new technology, and a new application may not work well with the systems already in place. Enterprise application integration overcomes these roadblocks to smooth business processes by combining the information and functionality of several applications into a single, easy-to-use interface.
  • Increased agility

    Business executives are demanding a path to digital operational excellence. This has triggered an enormous backlog of requests from various stakeholders for automation. Application integration allows organizations to recognize and respond to opportunities more quickly. Whether it is to address shifts in the market, reputation management issues, invoice processing automation, supply chain disruptions, or ecommerce personalization—application integration can help organizations automate.

Application integration examples

Many industries and organizations are taking advantage of application integration because it helps modernize aging processes and systems. Whether it’s consumer goods, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, or banking—application integration enables a wide variety of businesses to meet their specific needs and objectives.

  • Finance

    Financial institutions may use application integration to attract new customers, while also providing loan services, mobile apps, and more.
  • Healthcare

    Hospitals use application integration to enable providers to quickly access patients’ medical records and insurance information from anywhere in the facility.
  • Manufacturing

    Manufacturers use application integration to keep track of production lines, parts inventories, and more. This helps to reduce costs and streamline operations.
  • Retail and ecommerce

    Retailers and online businesses rely on application integration to get an accurate, real-time look at inventory, payments, customer service, and more.
  • Telecom

    With the growing complexity and variety of data and information, telecommunications companies use application integration to deliver a seamless experience to customers on their mobile devices, computers, and more.

Application integration with Oracle

As businesses move to the cloud, it can often be difficult to figure out how to connect on-premises applications with apps and services, including applications for ERP, customer experience (CX), human capital management (HCM), and many more. Connecting new systems with old ones, capitalizing on legacy investments, and driving new streams of revenue are all part of what makes application integration so valuable.

Oracle Integration makes it easy to connect applications and automate end-to-end processes, such as procure to pay, inquiry to order, and hire to retire. Anyone can perform the simple drag-and-drop integration—with no coding experience necessary. And because Oracle manages the environment, organizations don’t have to worry about provisioning hardware, installing software, or keeping the environment current.

Only Oracle offers the ability to move Oracle apps with Oracle SOA on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure as-is. This means existing IT investments are protected, and also provides a pragmatic option to avoid costly and technically complex rework. Deploy a single SOA adapter for interoperability between Oracle Integration and Oracle SOA to leverage existing services and start modernizing applications and processes sooner. Oracle Integration is built on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), which has reimagined the cloud for more than 10,000 customers throughout the world.

Learn more about application integration and watch our on-demand webcast with Gartner to discover how application integration and intelligent automation can accelerate innovation at your organization.