EAI is infrastructure, and cost justification is always a tough sellfor infrastructure projects. Taking a long-term view, however, theonly thing more expensive is not using these tools or anotherconsistent enterprise wide integration method like .Net or Webservices. Yes, EAI's real payoff is in business agility the ability tochange business processes quickly but in today's economy that's notlikely to squeeze a check out of the CFO.
However, big companies such as General Motors report concrete savingsof as much as 80 percent on certain integration projects once themessaging hub is in place and reuse of interfaces starts to kick in.Smaller companies have a tougher decision to make, but those withmultiple or business-critical integration needs can also experiencebenefits from EAI. As long as CIOs have a clear-eyed understanding ofthe up-front costs (including consulting and maintenance tabs),pursuing a coherent integration strategy such as EAI should pay off inthe long run.
Poised for Payback
Detroit-based General Motors is the poster child for EAI because ofthe sheer size of its application portfolio. Cherri Musser, CIO of eGMand process information officer of supply chain for the informationsystems and services organization, was seeking "a higher level ofreusability" in her interface code. She also wanted to simplify eGM'stangled web of applications. Both efforts would save the companymoney.
The vast array of applications under Musser's care includes all ofGM's consumer-facing Web activity, a Siebel CRM system, dealer supportsystems and portal software from iPlanet. GM's supply chainapplication infrastructure includes connections to Covisint, a customvehicle order management system, planning and logistics applications,and inventory management. Some GM units (those in smaller geographicalregions) use SAP as their foundation. Others don't. Also, there is ani2 Technologies supply chain management package rollout under way.That package will replace older planning applications as part of anambitious reengineering of GM's entire order-to-delivery process. SoMusser's integration efforts are aimed at a moving target, whichincludes thousands of legacy systems, she says.