Off-premise systems could cause data integration problems that require serious consideration in any purchase decision. Through industry standards, application programming interfaces, and middleware for enterprise integration, manufacturers have made great progress in uniting the islands of information that once kept them from sharing data between plant floor and enterprise systems.
As a result of these enterprise integration efforts, companies can now connect production operations with back-end accounting systems to keep material costs under control and manufacturing schedules on track. They can integrate supply chain data, warehouse management systems, and even sales forecasting applications to deliver the right product, to the right people, at the right time. When done right, it's a huge competitive advantage. But any CIO or systems integrator will tell you that integrating applications that target different departments is not easy to do, since business needs change as fast as applications are upgraded.
Enter software as a service applications, which might seem to be an IT manager's dream: no server and storage systems to buy and maintain. But their emergence presents a whole new integration problem between on-premise legacy apps and those that live in the cloud.
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