SAP Cloud HCM and especially cloud HCM integration is seeing a lot of flux. We are in exciting times and never before have I seen things moving so fast in the HR Tech space.
In its latest version i.e., the 1508 release, SAP silently shipped a beta version of a feature that it calls the “Integration Center”. Calling it a feature would be a misnomer – for it is a product in itself. Integration Center (IC) is basically SAP’s very own cloud middleware, Hana Cloud Integration (HCI) running within the walled boundaries of Cloud HCM! This is a phenomenal feat from SAP. It’s incredible on so many levels. Let’s dissect.
The advent of the Citizen Integrator!
With the IC, SAP provides the cloud HCM business user an opportunity to create-edit, configure, review and run integrations from within her sphere of work. Mind you, the business users I am talking about are HR Admins, Payroll/benefits admins and even managers and not some tech guy geeking out of her den. In integration terms, these folks are called Citizen Integrators. They are tech savvy subject matter experts with little or no clue about the legacy integration solutions like ESB or EAI apps.
Gartner mentions citizen integrators atleast 30 times in its latest magic quadrant report. While IPaaS leaders like Dell Boomi and visionaries like SnapLogic have emancipated the citizen integrator, nothing really comes close to the convenience of using SAP’s Integration Center.
Just look at it. It’s a neat 6 step guided activity that starts with choosing the right entity (here I have chosen the “user”), then configuring the fields, selecting the right filters (time and field based), providing the SFTP destination and finally scheduling the run.
Every time there is a new user or there is a change in any user data this process will relay that data to the SFTP destination as a .csv file. Without the IC this would have necessitated a Boomi developer like me 🙂
That’s the value users get when an enterprise app vendor like SAP gets its integration story right.
HCI all the way
I love Dell Boomi. It’s perhaps the best IPaaS tool out there today. It’s a developers darling. I will even put my neck out and say this: There is nothing in the integration space that can’t be achieved with Boomi.
Nevertheless from an SAP scheme of things, I see HCI emerging strongly as an alternative IPaaS of choice.
The seeds of this transformation were sown way back in the 14xx* release. Up until then SAP shipped open, editable Boomi iFlows for all its standard integrations e.g. EC-ERP Payroll. But with the 14xx* release, SAP switched to a one-size-fits-all, customise-the-good-old-BAdI-way, closed, non-editable Integration Packs (iPack). It solved two problems for SAP
1) Since the integration content could no longer be tampered with, it was easier to ship new features and bug fixes .
2) On a strategic note this simplified the process of middleware swapping for SAP and therefore its customers – atleast in the HCM space. Now all they need is a steady flow of integration content covering all verticals and horizontals within the HCM space.
If the iPack was the start, I consider the Integration Center to be an important milestone for SAP in its journey towards indigenizing and thus harmonizing its IPaaS/middleware offering.