25426-1t0g8ciI was at a health conference several years ago when as part of a roundtable the CIO of a major hospital network said “We have all these great systems that can do all kinds of amazing things – electronic health records, pharmacy systems, medical imaging databases, giant knowledgebases, etc.  To reach the next level of healthcare, we don’t need any new systems. We just need the existing systems to talk to each other and exchange information fluidly. The future of healthcare is not innovation, it’s Systems Integration.” The brouhaha over Obamacare was a fine example – getting the website integrated with all the existing systems turned out to be a lot more complex than expected.
Of course, he was being a little hyperbolic, since innovation is always going to be important.  But I couldn’t agree with him more that Systems Integration is going to separate the winners from the losers in the next few decades. Not just in healthcare, but everywhere. We are entering a golden age of Systems Integration.  This is going to create a golden opportunity for Services organizations that can help companies design and architect information flow to create innovative solutions and innovative organizations.

What will drive this Golden Age? A lot of different things, but the largest factor is the geometric growth in data and data sources, and the exploding need for applications and solutions that can harness and combine this data effectively.  Here’s three things that are going to become very important in the coming years: The Internet of Things, The Rise of Mobile, and The Rise of Media.

Internet of Things

For those of you not familiar with the Internet of Things, it’s also called M2M, or Machine to Machine communication.  It’s all about all those sensors that are everywhere now.  How do we get these sensors online? What do we do with this data?  This infographic explains the Internet of Things much better than I ever could. The Internet of Things is going to bring so much more data online in the next few years.  The data is going to be flowing through disparate, incompatible systems. To turn this data firehose into effective applications is going to require a great deal of systems integration. Of course, those that can master these data sources are going to have a remarkable competitive advantage.

The Rise of Mobile

Not much to be said here that hasn’t already been said. Mobile platforms are going to continue to proliferate, and forward-thinking companies are going to need a great deal of assistance in integrating their mobile platforms with their existing IT infrastructure. Effectively combining corporate and public databases and systems with mobile platforms are going to yield powerful B2B and B2C solutions.

The Rise of Media

More and more media, in more and more formats are available on the internet every day.  As the broadband pipe continues to widen, media that would have been unsuitable for the internet a couple of years ago is now coming online.  All of this media needs to be cataloged, organized, distributed, and analyzed. These new media types can also be combined with existing data streams to build powerful applications.

The raw materials are all there to build the next generation of applications.  It’s just a matter of rolling up the sleeves and doing the hard work involved in systems integration.  The golden age is upon us.