The world of super integration

typically find them integrated together in complex systems of systems to build comprehensive and composite enterprise information systems (more akin to the diverse medical and hospital systems Azyxxi integrates). The different tools for enterprise, Web and RIA development activities really make it much easier to successfully implement composite applications. The systems of systems that are most successful always seem to follow at least a few rules of thumb. They:

  • join different and unrelated data sources together into a composite database;
  • process document and Web page text into relationally structured information such as metadata repositories;
  • create new information from existing data using various algorithms to generate comprehensive conclusions, numerical analysis and reports; and
  • provide a rich user interface experience that users like and that, more importantly, users are familiar with and are comfortable using.

Azyxxi does all of those things not only with medical and healthcare-specific information systems, but also with more generalized knowledge management tools. Those systems process text in order to build metadata repositories, and tag and manage multimedia objects and other rich forms of information. They allow users and developers consistent and easy methods to safely extend the system to handle new software tools and provide the means to search for and merge relevant data to build an
up-to-date, comprehensive composite picture of the patient.

Azyxxi has always impressed me because its authors have carefully thought through all the architectural, engineering, human factor, security and business issues that allow for a successful, integrated solution. I’d love to say that Azyxxi is the rule of the day and that most integrated solutions are equally as successful and as likely to be bought by Microsoft. Alas, that is unfortunately not the case.

Systems integration, while complex, doesn’t have to be rocket science. Yet all too often new systems are created which can’t or don’t conform to common standards, organizationally accepted development approaches for data, middleware or common user interface criteria. That is likely to be because the organization lacks standards, common data management approaches or enterprise development practices for systems integration. Sometimes, it’s because the standards, approaches and practices are too complex or cumbersome.

To make things work smoothly, enterprise organizations need to do some common-sense things, such as:

  • Stick to the most relevant common standards, particularly those that support enterprise grade software products or solutions.
  • Plan for change, because if you can’t change, you end up at an economic disadvantage and your systems rapidly become outdated and hard to manage.
  • Don’t lock yourself into one data layer, middleware or user interface development system for all time, because it means you can’t jump into new, better and faster technology when it comes along.
  • Listen to your users because they have to live with the integrated system of systems you develop for them. If they hate the user interface, if the tools they need aren’t there or aren’t obvious, they will reject the system and they just won’t use it.
  • Consider portfolio management as a way to manage for change. Portfolio management gives you an approach to monitor and track changes to your IT software and hardware assets, both technologically and financially. After all, you are buying software and hardware products and then integrating them to answer your business problems. Those technologies are going to change and evolve continually, and you have to be aware of that change and able to pay for it in order to take advantage of it into the future.

This is an exciting time to be working in the “boots-on-the-ground” aspect of knowledge management information technology integration. I am patiently waiting for the day when it becomes clear that systems of systems knowledge management solutions like Azyxxi are more the norm than the exception. You as knowledge management technology purchasers, managers or integrators should rest easy knowing that you have more choice, better tools and faster integration processes available to you than ever before.

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