What is web integration?
A basic definition of web integration, and activities included in web integration – the web integrator’s job.
The expert definition of system integration is quite widely known and has been circulating in the IT world for a number of years. It is about joining together various software and hardware (generally system) components into one unit. This unit works effectively and brings benefits resulting from synergies. A system integrator, which in some cases can be a company carrying out system integration for its clients, works to ensure that the operating costs of the entire solution, in contrast to individual parts of the systems, are reduced. In addition, the system integrator (or company) should be responsible for the required stability and the security system. In all of this, the possibility to continually develop the solution as a whole should be taken into account.
Under the definition, system integrators must have or acquire knowledge of areas linked to the integration process. On the other hand, system integrators are not able to provide integration services themselves. It is not a prerequisite that system integrators themselves have of all the necessary internal know how, but they must be in a position to acquire this knowledge, from the suppliers or sub-contractors. It is also useful to bring together such information as part of the overall project delivery.
In recent years, areas where the Internet is used have grown very dynamically, and individual firms are specialising in areas covering a whole range of services, from purely marketing to purely technical. It is therefore clear that as with system integration, there is a need to connect all of these services for certain projects. Implementing a good quality and extensive web project, such as a web portal, B2B portal, e-commerce solution or a client zone requires the participation of a wide spectrum of specialists, in marketing and communications, design and user access, SEO and SEM, project management, HTML coding, system analyses, software and technical architecture, development, testing, operation and many other disciplines.
Web integration therefore involves a process of connecting all the outputs of all activities and components essential for carrying out the web project as a whole. The web integrator is a partner who provides a guarantee to the client that the project will comply with the agreed specifications. The web integrator is also responsible for coordinating all the necessary activities.
(*Logically not all website projects need a web integrator in order to happen; the need to involve integrators becomes greater as the size and importance of a project grow. A small microsite about projects can be created without the need for web integration, and in some cases a web integrator, but in the case of large volumes of information or a sales portal, the involvement of a web integrator is at the very least vitally important, if not essential. For more information, see “Do you need a web integrator?”)
Web integration can be regarded as a “subset” or in some cases an “offshoot” of system integration. Web integration naturally means involving the client’s internal system, but the aim is not to resolve the integration links of the clients’ individual systems. On the other hand, the web integrator has the capacity to help with reconciling processes that go beyond the notional boundaries of the internal systems and that move from the outer to the inner environments. Alternatively, the web integrator can use the Internet (and also mobile) technology, taking into account the importance of involving other professional disciplines and the effectiveness of investments.
In the project, the web integrator is the primary contact with the client, who is therefore relieved of the duty to communicate with a number of specialised suppliers during project implementation. The web integrator must demonstrate sufficient project management skills.
Activities included in web integration
At the time of writing, the following list of fields applied in web integration projects. However, the online world is so dynamic that this number is still growing. In practice, individual disciplines often overlap and therefore clear separation between them is generally not possible. In all areas, it is assumed that the web integrator provides or facilitates suitable consultancy or training services to the client.
- Preparation and coordination aspects of the project
- Supporting the project business goals.
- Specifying solution requirements together with the client.
- Drawing up documentation – concept or feasibility study.
- Setting success metrics.
- Drawing up preparation specifications.
- Project management, including a project timeline.
- Coordinating individual sub-contractors and suppliers.
- eCommerce, marketing and communications aspects are often carried out in cooperation with specialised partners and products.
- Compliance with the communications strategy of the client.
- Ensuring continuity of marketing activities.
- SEO, SEM, PPC, banners and media lease, linkbuilding and other promotional areas and lead generation.
- Social networks.
- Web analysis, including web analysis evaluation.
- Direct marketing.
- eCommerce including sub-categories such as:
- Mobile commerce,
- Social commerce,
- Mobile payment,
- TV-Shopping (Smart/Internet TV),
- Multi-channel ecommerce.
- User interface sector
- Graphic design aspects.
- User-friendliness and user testing.
- Accessibility, including supporting multi-channel):
- Mobile equipment,
- Smart TV,
- and more.
- Development, technical and operational aspects.
- Selection of suitable application and web/portal platforms.
- Use of other suitable projects for specific solutions (such as eCommerce, and other tools – analytical, testing and others).
- Development of specific functionalities on the selected application platform, based on the software engineering methodology chosen.
- Designing and ensuring operation of a web solution (webhosting, cloud computing and clustering) based on estimated performance demands (number of visitors) and accessibility needs (sizing, monitoring, performance and tuning).
- Further development and management of the solution, including necessary guarantees.
- Integration sector
- Integration into internal systems/applications.
- Integration into external systems/applications.
- Integration of the solution interface, for providing data to the surroundings.
Separate integration can be implemented at the data, user interface, technological, functional, organisational or methodological levels. The most appropriate use of these methods or a combination of them should always be based on current conditions, taking into account the impact of the funding invested.