What are Vendor Connectors?
Some Enterprise Applications come with connectors and integration tools that are meant to solve the problem of getting data in and out of the platform. In some cases, additional payment is required to enable these solutions, and although connectors are often marked as a one-stop-solution for all things In and Out, unfortunately they rarely deliver on that promise.
When purchasing a new ERP (or upgrading), customers should consider the total cost of ownership of the platform inclusive of integration costs. Modern organizations can only thrive when they have fast access to data for effective decision making, and this means integration. Unfortunately for many Enterprise Applications, these integration tools have been somewhat of an after-thought.
Difficult to Use
These tools are purported to simplify the process of integrating data from the vendor’s platform to another and are marketed with simple workflow type interfaces that, in reality, are complex and difficult to understand. Unsurprisingly as customers become aware of the platforms, they are introduced to specialist developers who have been trained and ‘certified’ as partners of the vendor, meaning they are incentivized to ensure you are going to stay inside the ecosystem provided.
Some of the pitfalls of the solutions provided today are a product of the lack of a recognized customer or user. Vendor specific solutions appear built with neither developers nor customers in mind. In an attempt at providing something for everyone they end up becoming a solution for neither party. Developers are frustrated by awkward UX and functionality, and customers are overwhelmed by the complexity.
The marketing hype around these products is that it is necessary for them to be as complex as they have become, and that the best approach is to hire developers experienced in their use. Unfortunately for the customer, this means hiring a very niche skillset and paying a large amount for those skills.
In addition to the cost of developing solutions, customers are often surprised to find that these integration tools are separately licensed. There is the misconception that this in the only (or best) way to achieve what they are trying to do, and as the solution eventually moves into production and enters the support and maintenance phase, license costs combined with additional consumption based charged build to values well beyond their initial estimates.
Without adequate DevOps governance and automation, another problem typically emerges shortly after “go live”, where the integrations may not perform as intended and fixes need to be implemented while the integration is in place. Vendor solutions may not have equivalents of all environments used by their targets (for example DEV, QAS, PRD) and may lack appropriate automations to enable managed and strongly governed deployment of changes between environments. This all leads to a high level of uncertainty as to whether an integration will work and whether human error has been introduced along the way.