The role of integrations in the hot mess of today’s tech stack

 |  28 January 2021

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Multi-cloud, cross-domain and multi-stack; the sophistication of modern enterprises’ operating systems is growing with every development in the evolution of software. Tech stack complexity - along with individual dependencies and demands - is building exponentially in a bid to keep pace with emerging technologies, consumer expectations and competitor activity. While some services may be stitched together or manual processes become the norm, stiff infrastructure can become increasingly burdensome, and operations increasingly costly as organisations scale. Does keeping up with the demands of modern software development have to be the cumbersome, hot mess it has become for some modern organisations?

No platform is an island. With increasingly specific solutions available, many organisations are looking to leverage specialisation while accommodating existing operating systems within a competitive timeframe. Integrations may allow an organisation to have their cake and eat it too, meaning they can reap the benefits of automation, data centralisation or speed to market. However, the complexity of a good integration can easily be missed or misunderstood. Business owners are often tempted by shortcuts, particularly when presented with solutions that lack a native capacity to integrate, but this can lead to rigid architecture that becomes a barrier to scale. To truly achieve the benefits of a specialist platform and accommodate the complexity of today’s stack requires an equally sophisticated and client-oriented orchestration service. 

Flux began its decoupling journey in 2019. Our clients were looking for more flexibility in their energy retail platforms, and we wanted to make our app more flexible and extensible in response. With the ability to pick and choose which products they want to use from each of the best-in-class service providers that make up their tech stack, clients have the capacity to flex, scale and adapt their operating systems to accommodate their evolving business needs. The co-created value of a purpose-built operating system can provide competitive advantage and allow a retailer to better serve a niche or expanding market. We also recognised the risk reduction of siloed product integration when compared to a full system replacement.

The Flux philosophy on integration sits nicely alongside our agile approach to operations. Harnessing the benefits of co-created value early, and learning from the results in an incremental and data-centric manner, is one way in which integrations can add exponential value. Flux’s complex billing product, which we believe to be the most sophisticated billing engine available globally, relies on a direct integration with our pricing application partners, Gorilla. Gorilla’s solution, which already champions specialised data management and processing capabilities, enhances our complex billing product to deliver a superbly streamlined real-time billing experience. Such an approach to integration meant we were able to deliver and learn fast. Making this approach available to our clients by decoupling our app means we’re helping them serve better, adapt faster and better meet the demands of our evolving industry.    

Such a rapidly changing environment calls for a highly adaptive approach to integration. As more and varied specialised apps come available, investing in optimisation to replace manual processing can reflect the digital maturity of an organisation, and help reap the benefits of such development. Flux products are built for automation and designed to both reduce cost to serve and delight end users with the speed and sophistication of automated servicing. Effective integration further enhances an investment in such products.

Considerable change management is another aspect of integration that shouldn’t be overlooked. Preparing and supporting people to adopt new apps and processes can help reduce risk, increase operator satisfaction and gain immediate return on investment.  The project doesn’t end when an integration is complete, with maintenance stepping up to ensure security and stability over time. Ongoing system administration is critical for the smooth and risk-reduced operation of business. Proactive testing can help to identify weak points, risks and opportunities for improvement. 

We fully understand that energy retailers aren’t always looking for a complete system replacement, and may have a wide and diverse range of systems requiring integration should they choose to add a Flux product to their stack. With the average number of SaaS apps used by businesses peaking at 137 in 2020, thriving organisations need a wide, flexible and extensible system orchestration to delight their future customer whilst reducing their cost to serve. The growth of specialised solutions is only as good as the integrations that allow a business to efficiently and effectively incorporate them into their established system architecture. We’ve decoupled our app to allow clients to decide what solutions meet the unique needs of their business - a business that they know best - and we invite you to explore what’s possible for your energy retail organisation.

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