Why SMBs can’t afford to ignore middleware
As middleware is becoming an ever more important area of innovation and development, many SMBs are still struggling with identifying where this technology best fits into their particular IT landscape.
In this blog post we take a look at where middleware is currently being utilised and where it’s likely to move forward in the future.
What is middleware?
Middleware is the collective term for software that serves to bridge the gap between different applications, to help connect various programs, reduce complexity or create new or improved functionality. Simply put, it is the software that fetches and interprets information from a database query into a web response. In some cases, key software comes with pre-built middleware components to connect with other systems.
Where is middleware being used?
Middleware components are the key enablers for enterprise applications and web services. It is a growing technology trend and it has the potential of impacting your business in many areas. Some of these areas include:
- Web services
As user friendliness and customer satisfaction moves higher up on the agenda for many organisations, the first port of call often becomes the web experience. In many ways, this is now the true battleground for user engagement, due to customers spending more time researching products and services online. Internet access from mobiles is surpassing desktops and laptops, which also means that websites need to ensure they are not only mobile-friendly but “mobile first”. This of course also places pressure on the middleware to support the mobile platforms just as well as any other, to create a consistent user experience.
The world of technology is moving more and more towards IoT (Internet of Things), which means we need to consider the integration issues that come with the massive expansion of IoT functionality. The increasing complexity of the integration landscape will place new demands on middleware taking into consideration the sheer volume of endpoints as well as new types of devices. The volume of data exchanged will only increase, putting more pressure on the capacity of the middleware in order to maintain the speed and accuracy required to process the information.
- Enterprise applications
The app landscape is becoming increasingly complex as new services continue to emerge, particularly for enterprise operations. Many of these applications are being built as bespoke solutions, to process data in very specific ways for the business. The development of middleware allows businesses to draw maximum value from legacy applications as well as creating more efficient and user-friendly interfaces. This also means that a wide range of disparate systems can be interlinked for consistency, even in a very challenging IT environment such as a hospital or local government.
Why should you care about middleware?
Across all sectors and platforms, integration is taking an increasingly central position. IBM recently announced that they are unlocking connection points for developers to integrate cloud services with traditional IT and other vendors are also moving towards making their solutions more accessible for interconnectivity. What this effectively means is that businesses of all sizes will find it easier to customise their systems to draw greater value from their IT investment.
SMBs discover the middleware difference
Middleware presents very tangible benefits for many SMBs, who often find themselves greatly helped by having dynamic connectors in place to engage better with clients and partners and create a competitive edge. With the ability to exchange data between disparate systems and databases, it becomes easier to create a seamless user experience without having to deploy a huge IT development project to achieve it.
For anyone who wants to get started with middleware, it is critical to have a clear understanding of what the business needs to achieve and for whom – as well as how to get the best value from the end solution. Often the best way to do this is to engage a developer who can provide a full review of options and suggest a suitable route to solution.
Some of the key middleware benefits to SMBs are:
- Simplify your IT landscape
If you have a range of systems for managing your day-to-day operations, you can save time and effort by connecting various systems and databases – regardless of whether they are on premise or cloud based.
- Improve customer engagement
Middleware components can make the customer journey simpler, faster and more dynamic by streamlining the user experience and displaying more relevant information.
- Save money on development
Middleware can be implemented in an affordable plug-and-play fashion rather than having to spend a long time troubleshooting and customising systems.
- Track and measure marketing efforts
With middleware software it’s possible to create workflows for lead management and pull leads into a CRM system from a wide range of sources. This makes for easier attribution of results to different marketing campaigns and initiatives, allowing the business to invest more where it really does make a difference.
- Get full value from legacy IT
With the ability to tie together new and old technology, your business can create custom workflows and automation to exchange data between all systems.
Not sure what middleware could do for your business? Contact us for a review of your IT operations and how an integration project might simplify your technology estate and improve productivity across the board.