An integration platform is a piece of computing software that brings together otherwise disconnected services and applications. Most commonly used in business environments, an integration platform connects the business on a software level, creating an integrated enterprise system. The goal is to bring together all of the different software areas, ensuring that data remains consistent from one area of the business to the next. Additionally, an integration platform should ease data mining procedures and enforce a strict level of security across the entire network.
Lacking a working integration platform is a classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing. Unless all systems in the business are brought together under the same umbrella, data inconsistencies can easily appear across the network. For example, if the billing and accounting departments are not connected through an integration platform, employees must enter data into the system twice: once during billing and once into the accounting programs. This increases the risk of error, as two separate employees can easily make incorrect entries into the system. Furthermore, unless someone is actively monitoring and comparing both systems against one another, these errors can easily go unnoticed for long periods of time.
With an integration platform connecting the different subsystems of the business, much of the possibility for error is removed, as all of the information in the business will be contained in one central location. Now, making two separate entries is no longer necessary; as soon as the information is entered into the computer it exists in both the billing and accounting departments. If a mistake is made during the entry, there are now two different sets of individuals that can detect and correct the error, as both departments will be looking at the same incorrect piece of information. This allows them a better chance of finding the error and fixing it before it becomes a potentially serious problem.
Integration platforms also enforce consistency in security and data mining. Since everything is uniform across the network, employees will have one fixed security clearance level, avoiding problems where an employee might be able to log in to two different systems at once. Data mining--the process of analyzing data to find trends--is also made easier because all of the data for the business is connected together in one central location, making it far easier to pull up any needed files.