The Integration Matrix
Redundant data applications have been replaced by integrated systems. ASPs, the Web, and client/server systems are now the future of business.
Technology is advancing at a staggering pace. All of us experience technology whether we choose to or not. Where will it stand five years from now? Consider the growth by reflecting on where we were five years ago and how far we have come. Today, e-mail, cell phones, and Web conferencing have emerged to the forefront. PCs have become an integral part of our daily lives. Even school children use computers everday as an educational tool. But, is the PC destined to become part of that land of forgotten technology, joining the slide rule and the Bowman calculator?
In today's competitive workplace environment, we need to embrace technology in new ways. For example, systems integration of enterprise resource planning (ERP) has had a profound impact on the workplace. Multiple applications can now share data and exchange files in order to streamline operations. This sharing of data extends to the seemingly unrelated departments of finance, human resources, and manufacturing. Separate departments no longer need to maintain their individual data systems. In other words, redundancy has been eliminated by the employment of the integration matrix.
Following The Movement Of Data
Innovative systems providers and the Web are facilitating this integration. Bridging software breathes new life into old, discrete, or interdepartmental systems. Applications like time and attendance, shop floor, and warehouse management now allow the movement of data to follow the movement of the product or service. This is a more efficient system and one that relies on the power of the software and hardware to correct any operational inefficiencies.
One System For Everything
New categories in the supply chain and B2B (business-to-business) markets are emerging as providers bridge applications. The buzz is about simultaneous process - the ability to engineer product, and at the same time, design the manufacturing function. Time to market is the essence of competitive survival. With the acquisitions and mergers over the last 24 months, it is clear that the integration of once discrete functions is inevitable. Plant operations and ERP, open systems, open trading, and e-business bring the world together. How far we go is anyone's guess. The new Internet computing, the rise of the application service providers (ASPs), and the transition to client/server is a wake-up call for how we will need to do business in the future. The concept of "one system for everything" that eliminates redundancy in data is on its way to the mainstream.
Harnessing The New Generation
The demand of the user has shifted. Multifunction software providers see the need to provide a best of breed product that is timely, established, and integrated. Consequently, a new generation of programmers, designers, and production managers is evolving. This group has grown up with the advances of the PC, the Internet, and the evolving power of technology. They expect systems to work flawlessly. This expectation is an opportunity for an enterprise to use this group's knowledge and enthusiasm to select and implement systems that are truly integrated. Accurate online data collection is as essential as turning a screw, cutting fabric, or wave soldering a printed circuit board. However, you must first understand a product or service's process. Then, the investment in data collection, ERP, and management software will not only make sense, but will provide a return on investment. Look for the provider that has the application suite of today, which will work with the data collection hardware and integration model of tomorrow. Ask the question: Will it fit five years from now?