Ed’s passion for building advanced architectures that help firms solve their business challenges stems from more than 20 years in enterprise application delivery. Ed prides himself on staying on the cusp of technology innovations and looking for the best ways to leverage them in NexJ’s architecture.
Ed is looking forward to sharing his insight into technology best practices and sparking dialogue on the latest advancements in software architecture.
Working with data is always tricky because there’s so much that can go wrong so quickly. Any CRM solution that claims to do its job well has to deal not just with data duplication or conflicts, but with third-party applications, back-office systems that don’t talk to each other, external systems and a seemingly unlimited number of integration points. This is why we place integration at the heart of our CRM solutions. Our products work as well as they do with users in sixty countries because we give integration the importance it rightly deserves.
“We looked and said, this is integration software, what does that have to do with CRM?” That is what the co-CEO of Salesforce said after his company acquired MuleSoft for $6.5 billion last year. This statement surprised our product and development teams. His statement sounded strange to us, given that integration is what helps us provide value to our customers and is the key to user adoption.
Integration is embedded in our CRM architecture, allowing financial services organizations to provide users with seamless access to all data and functionality thanks to more approaches (data at source, messaging, synchronization), technologies (DB connectors, security adapters, messaging protocols), and integration points. Integrated data is immediately made available in every aspect of the system.
It is through integration that our CRM provides real value by bringing together client, account, and company data directly from the source, without the need for replication. The risk of conflicting or out of date information is also eliminated. Organizations can present all enterprise knowledge about a customer in a comprehensive customer-centric view without the cost and complexity of data duplication.
This is really the engine under the hood, for lack of a better metaphor. What it does is provide application-level integration with external systems that support data access through message-based interfaces. The NexJ Integration Layer enables integration and communication between mission-critical systems via services, messaging, or direct persistence bindings to Oracle, MS SQL, Sybase, DB2 or others with custom adapters.
The Integration Layer facilitates all patterns of message-based integration, supports unlimited integration points, and provides support for custom APIs. It also allows messages of any format (XML, JSON, CSV, Copybook, …) to be sent or received over a variety of channels (HTTP(s), TCP, UDP, MessageQueue, Mail, File, …), and provides a transformation engine to convert messages to and from any of these formats.
The NexJ Portal Server can expose any or all of NexJ CRM’s functionality as portlets, as well as integrate in functionality from third-party portal applications. It provides a context-aware interface, encapsulates an organization’s data model, business rules, security and privileges, and enables communication between portlets to ensure the complete picture and accurate data is presented to end users.
An integral aspect of what defines our CRM is our data management solutions, where integration occurs at an attribute level and, once resolved, allows the attribute to be assigned to many views. Our data management services natively publishes attributes to associated views so changes in operational systems, updates from streaming services or the latest messages are reflected. This is currently the backbone of our reporting and searching capabilities.
This is like asking a helicopter pilot if the rotors are of much use while flying. User adoption is key to the success of any CRM, and integration can improve user adoption rates dramatically simply because users start to recognize that they are getting more out of the solution than they are putting into it.
NexJ’s Integration Layer provides these extensive integration capabilities and tools to support all kinds of integration scenarios, including secure API access to the business model, contract-based web services to integrate with client enterprise SOA standards, flexibility for custom service development, context sharing and UI mashups in the presentation layer, REST API, real-time connectivity to databases and services for a virtualized view of enterprise data, bulk data ingestion and extraction, direct SQL integration and real-time access to any audited changes in the business model.
User adoption drives home the importance of integration to CRM projects. Without integration, are you getting a comprehensive view of your customer and are you getting the most out of your CRM investments? Think about that the next time you speak to your CRM vendor.
Sometimes when you step back you can really appreciate things that may have become routine. I did this recently with our enterprise-first development approach. As usual, we are busy adding capabilities to our products that will make our client’s solutions even more valuable and I’ve been almost too close to it. There is a lot going on. Some of the big items are: improved Service Request Management, more flexible deployment options with auto-scaling and self-healing of servers, a new generation of contract-based services as well as an updated REST/JSON/Swagger interface, and an entirely updated (and beautiful) user experience. This is a lot of change to manage!
And that’s where my appreciation for how we model our enterprise applications comes in. As I discussed in a previous post, our enterprise literate technology allows us to pack a lot into each update and I’m really happy to see us staying on track with our delivery timelines. With some of the improvements we’ve made to our continuous delivery capabilities, these updates are becoming even better with each release.
It’s the same approach we provide to our clients and partners to customize their solutions for integration and security so they see the same benefits. I’m excited about upcoming plans for updated training, documentation, and tooling that will make this even easier. It allows us all to move quickly with efficiency, maintainability, and control.
I really look forward to sharing some of our new features with you soon.
Until next time…