Adopting a Sound Approach to Systems Integration
As the digital age unfolds, business and IT executives increasingly recognize that system integration is the glue that holds together the modern enterprise. Without strong and effective connection points, it's next to impossible to operate in a 24x7 global mode.
At Sennheiser Electronic GmBH, a privately owned German audio company that manufactures high-end consumer audio products (including headphones, microphones, wireless systems and telephone accessories), the need to tie together CRM, ERP and other systems in a highly stable environment led to the adoption of an integration platform.
"The main question we had to ask ourselves was whether to program one or several interfaces, as we had done in the past, or try using an integration platform that we would benefit from in the future," points out Klaus Höling, director of IT and group CIO at Sennheiser. Although past attempts to adopt a platform had proven too expensive and too complex—and many products did not provide the features the company required—Höling turned to an integration platform from Magic Software to accomplish the elusive task.
The Magic xpi integration platform, which relies on a metadata approach and more than 50 technology adapters available from a drag-and-drop studio, enabled the company to connect a new Sugar CRM enterprise application with an existing JDE EnterpriseOne 9 enterprise resource planning suite. The Magic platform, which went live during the summer of 2013, has transformed the underlying way Sennheiser manages transactions, including FTP, messaging, Web services and more. As a result, the nearly 70-year-old company is in the process of migrating many of its interfaces to the platform, Höling says.
The firm has already realized significant IT and business improvements, according to Höling. "A user-friendly, metadata-based approach [has led to] faster IT delivery with robust and well-documented solutions," he explains. "This is extremely important for a midsize company that requires an affordable and dependable solution."
Sennheiser is now looking to integrate the Magic xpi platform with a number of other IT systems, including IBM Enterprise Content Management, a CIM Database, Lotus Notes and tools from MicroStrategy. "Because of the reliability and performance of the system, we will, step by step, migrate our many interfaces to this platform," Höling says.
The company faced relatively few challenges in implementing the solution, according to Höling. There wasn't a need for a consultant or outside systems integrator, and Sennheiser worked directly with the vendor. Switching on integration tools for specific applications was quick and straightforward.
"We try to design lean processes supporting easy processes that make the user productive," he says. "From an IT perspective we need a flexible and robust platform to quickly meet the businesses' requests." What's more, the environment has been extremely stable.
To be sure, Sennheiser has found the solution to be music to its ears. "We now have a powerful and easy-to-use integration platform in place," Höling reports.