12 min read

What Is System Integration? Types, Use Cases, Approaches, and Common Challenges

Interconnected apps have become a standard. Now each product needs to be integrated with multiple other apps to offer a seamless experience. How to securely connect your solution with other systems? In this article, we compared different system types and described the approaches for integrating them as well as risks to avoid.
Written by
Samuel Schmid
Published on
February 6, 2024
Read time
12 min read

We like all-inclusive options that make our lives easier – whether it’s a resort or a team productivity tool, we want everything in one place, preferably with a one-click login and flexibility when it comes to tailoring our experiences to suit our preferences. However, building a system that does it all would take too much time and resources. That’s where system integration comes into play, allowing you to link multiple apps into one system.

At Modeso, we’ve helped numerous businesses expand their possibilities, seamlessly integrating their systems with all kinds of tools and applications, from 3D scanners to wealth management software. In this article, our experts share everything you need to know about system integration, illustrating its benefits, types, and methods with real-life case studies. Learn what system integration can do for your business and how to implement it correctly.

But first, let’s agree on what exactly system integration is.

System integration in a nutshell

System Integration (SI) is the process of connecting different software or applications, making them work together as a unified whole. From customer management to inventory tracking and financial software, businesses can link different tools with their products, eliminating the need to develop required functionality from scratch. System integration is what allows these tools to seamlessly communicate and share data.

System integration becomes especially pivotal for businesses as they evolve. Companies regularly update their IT systems to keep up with the customer needs so proper system integration ensures a seamless and efficient incorporation of new applications into the existing infrastructure. This results in essential benefits for the business. Let’s break them down.

The main advantages of system integration

Here are some advantages of integrating systems that businesses can get:

Enhanced performance and quality of services

Integrating third-party systems can improve user experience, allowing to bring together data from different sources, streamline business operations, create a centralized control hub, and add new functionality.

For example, for TWINT, Switzerland’s most popular payment app, our team leveraged system integration to streamline the purchase of digital vouchers.

By implementing an integration layer that provides a standardized interface for different merchants, we made it easier for TWINT users to purchase digital vouchers and find exclusive deals for all types of products, from electronic gadgets to lifestyle essentials.

Thanks to these integrations, TWINT was able to increase the transaction volume, add new functionalities to their ecosystem, and build a unique value proposition that sets the company apart from global payment solutions like Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Operational efficiency and smooth workflows

System integration streamlines operations and workflows by connecting different tools, automating tasks, and leading to seamless workflows across different business functions. 1LIMS, a comprehensive Laboratory Information Management System that we developed is a great illustration of this benefit.

1LIMS solves inefficiencies in quality management processes faced by laboratories in manufacturing companies. It integrates with ERP systems like SAP, service labs, and laboratory devices to streamline data flow, speed up lab turnaround times, and improve regulatory compliance. Now, when a manufacturing company orders a new raw material in SAP, it prompts a quality check in 1LMS to ensure the material meets quality standards upon arrival. Likewise, for internal production orders in SAP, 1LIMS automatically generates quality control checks, making sure each production step follows set quality standards.

Improved data management and better collaboration

Integrations also improve data management and foster collaboration by connecting different parts of a business, making it easier for various stakeholders to cooperate.

For instance, during our collaboration with Dental Axess, we built Xflow, a flexible, cloud-based platform that automates the process of clear aligner manufacturing from scan to design to fabrication.

Before Xflow, crucial data in the clear aligner production supply chain were exchanged through disparate channels like Dropbox, email, or Google Drive, leading to frequent misplacements and delays. To streamline this process, we integrated patient information, 3D scans, and other critical data into one system, centralizing the data management and enhancing workflow efficiency, offering a seamless experience for tracking both outsourced and in-house designs.

This consolidation streamlined clear aligner manufacturing workflows, eliminated human errors, improved collaboration between different stakeholders, including dental practitioners, manufacturers, and designers, and sped up clear aligner treatment.

These are just a few of the benefits system integration can bring. Depending on product specifics and user needs, using integrations, you can streamline already existing functionality and allow adding new features that otherwise would be hard to implement. So let’s dive deeper and see what types of system integrations exist.

The types of system integration for different business needs

System integration can be adopted in several ways based on the goals you wish to achieve. Here’s an overview of different types and cases where integrations can provide tangible business benefits.

Enterprise system integration

Enterprise system integration aims to connect internal applications to unify internal processes, ensuring consistent communication between systems, enhancing user experience through a single interface, and letting businesses achieve a paperless environment.

Upgrading outdated systems often involves enterprise system integration, a common scenario aimed at optimizing data flow to build a more efficient operational environment.

One of our clients, Albin Kistler, a prominent asset management company in Switzerland, faced issues with its legacy research database which was crucial for supporting their sophisticated algorithm for investment analysis. They reached out to Modeso to rebuild the application, transforming it into a modern web platform.

To enhance the functionality and data richness of the system,  we had to integrate third-party and internal systems but it brought several technical challenges. The APIs had complex interfaces and we needed to implement custom integrations to match their unique features.

For example, to fetch financial data, including stock quotes, bond prices, and currency exchange rates, we used SIX apiD, a prominent global financial information service company. To carry out this integration, we had to select and implement specific features within the SIX apiD interface and optimize data retrieval to meet our needs; we also had to ensure strict adherence to licensing agreements.

To provide information about customer ownership, stock, and bond values, we integrated the application with Expersoft’s PM1 platform through a direct database export. To align with our application’s quality standards, the implementation of a data validation mechanism was necessary.

Finally, by integrating with Albin Kistler’s Active Directory, we were able to implement seamless authentication and user information import, eliminating the need for manual data entry.

Data integrations

Any form of system integration typically involves the integration of data or functionality. Essentially, the purpose of system integration is to connect different systems so that they can share information or use each other’s features.

Data integration, in particular, can involve various data sources, such as databases, applications, files, and web services. It aims to eliminate data silos and ensure that disparate systems within an organization can share and exchange data efficiently.

Data integration can be achieved through various methods, including Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) processes, data virtualization, and application programming interfaces (APIs).

Many data aggregation tools out there help you move data from one system to another. Here are a few examples:

  • Databricks. A key partner for Microsoft, Databricks is a data analytics platform that helps companies build AI models. Databricks connects a large assortment of data sources, BI tools, and developer tools to build, deploy, share, and maintain enterprise-grade data, analytics, and AI solutions at scale.
  • Power BI. A Microsoft product, Power BI is a robust business analytics tool. It not only consolidates data from diverse sources but also transforms it into visually appealing and interactive insights. Its user-friendly interface allows users to create customizable reports and dashboards.
  • This no-code tool integrates data from various applications into Google Sheets. simplifies the process, enabling users to aggregate data seamlessly and fostering a collaborative and organized approach to data management.
  • Airbyte. A robust data integration (ETL) platform, it allows software engineers to implement integrations with various systems using pre-built connectors or develop their own connectors in only 10 minutes.

By employing these tools, you can not only integrate data from different applications and databases but also speed up the software development process.

Third-party system integrations

Third-party system integrations allow businesses to broaden the functionality of their existing products. Almost any software today has integrations with other systems. For instance, Slack, a well-known team collaboration tool, provides integrations with Google Drive, Dropbox, Asana, Zoom, and other applications so users can keep using their workplace tools without having to close tabs or constantly switch contexts.

If you’re building a consumer-facing system, like SaaS, third-party integrations are something users expect. For example, users may want the email marketing platform to integrate with their CRM system to synchronize customer contact information seamlessly. They might also expect integration with e-commerce platforms to track and analyze the performance of email campaigns in relation to sales. Integrations with analytics tools could provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of email campaigns, while integration with social media management tools might enable sharing of email content across different social platforms. Likewise, a project management tool should integrate smoothly with communication tools like Slack, file storage services like Google Drive, or customer relationship management (CRM) software like Salesforce.

Third-party integrations are particularly relevant in today’s interconnected digital landscape where different applications and services specialize in specific functions. By allowing seamless connections between different systems and services, you can provide a more user-friendly experience.

Partner integrations

Partner integrations help establish connections between suppliers, customers, and business partners, granting them access to your app’s data and features. This collaborative approach can be adopted in numerous domains, from shipping and logistics to communication, quality management, and payments.

For example, integrating with shipping giants like UPS, FedEx, or DHL streamlines the shipping process for e-commerce platforms, providing real-time shipping rates, tracking information, and label generation.

From our own experience, 1LIMS, a lab information management solution offers an API to allow their clients to integrate their ERP systems and achieve streamlined quality data management and seamless laboratory workflows. TWINT, a mobile payment provider allows merchants to use its payment features and build unique business models on top of it. In partnership with TWINT, we are engaged in the creation of four projects. These include Digital Voucher, designed to simplify the acquisition of digital vouchers, Super Deals, offering a range of exclusive deals, Storefinder, a location-based application empowering users to locate TWINT-compatible points of sale on a map for quick and secure payments, and InsureHub, a platform enabling users to seamlessly purchase insurance policies using TWINT as a payment method.

Depending on your needs, there are different integration methods to consider.

The common approaches to system integration

Achieving connectivity between separate systems can be accomplished through the following approaches:

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)

APIs act as the bridge between systems, offering controlled access to essential functionalities for seamless and effective integration. An API is ideal for real-time data exchange and interactions between applications. APIs are commonly used when you need controlled access to specific functionalities and seamless integration with external systems, making them versatile for diverse integration needs.
Also check out: What Is an API? From Basics to Use Cases and Types


Middleware serves as an intermediary layer that facilitates communication between different software applications. It streamlines data exchange and ensures compatibility between diverse systems, acting as a mediator to enhance overall integration. Middleware is suitable for large enterprises with diverse software applications that need to work together seamlessly.


Also known as HTTP callbacks, provide a lightweight method for web applications to communicate with each other. They allow real-time data transfer and event notification, enabling systems to stay in sync without continuous polling. Webhooks are suitable for applications that rely on event-driven architecture, such as messaging apps or live updates.

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)

EDI is a standardized method for exchanging business documents electronically. It defines a set of protocols for structured data exchange, ensuring seamless communication between different systems, particularly in scenarios involving complex business transactions. EDI is commonly employed in supply chain, logistics, and healthcare sectors for structured data exchange between trading partners. It’s suitable for industries with a need for strict data standardization and regulatory compliance.

Choosing the right approach depends on the specific requirements of the integration project. Whether you prioritize real-time interactions, seamless data exchange, or standardized document exchange and security, each method offers distinct advantages tailored to different integration needs. But before implementing it, you need to understand the possible challenges that might occur.

Main system integration problems to avoid

To establish efficient system integration, several common pitfalls must be avoided:

Outdated interconnected systems

Many companies grapple with large, outdated systems that are intricately interconnected, making the integration process extremely complex. This lack of modularity and separation makes it difficult to isolate specific functions for integration with external applications.

To avoid this challenge and successfully connect a monolithic system with external apps, businesses can transition to microservices, implement APIs, or embrace incremental modernization.

Failure to anticipate future demands

Integration efforts should not merely address current needs but also anticipate future demands in terms of performance, maintenance, reusability, and growth. Businesses should assess current and anticipated requirements, ensuring flexible and future-proof integrated systems.

Data format inconsistencies

Different systems often employ varying data formats, complicating the information transfer between them. Standardizing data formats is crucial for seamless integration to prevent data-related bottlenecks.

Inaccessible API documentation

Difficulties in accessing and using API documentation can slow down the integration process, making it prone to errors. API documentation should be easy for developers to understand, helping them integrate systems smoothly and work together effectively.

Insufficient security measures

Neglecting robust security measures during integration can lead to data breaches, unauthorized access, and compromised system integrity. Establishing stringent security protocols, including encryption and access controls, is vital to safeguard sensitive information and maintain the integrity of integrated systems.

Achieving effective system integration is challenging, and in some cases, integration-related mistakes can lead to substantial business problems.

For example, Target’s failed expansion into Canada was partly attributed to problems with its supply chain management system. Inadequate integration with suppliers and logistics partners resulted in inventory management problems, including empty shelves and overstock of irrelevant products, ultimately contributing to the company’s withdrawal from the Canadian market. Up to that point, the company had incurred approximately $7 billion in losses on the venture.

To not become a victim of such instances, ensure efficient system integration that eliminates errors and allows your business to evolve.

Need help with system integration? Let’s talk

System integration is a complex process that requires a comprehensive approach. There’s no universal solution as each system has its specifics and thus demands a particular integration type and approach. But for all cases, one thing is certain. You must address all potential challenges in advance, analyzing and choosing the integration method that will bring your business the most benefits. This isn’t an easy task but the benefits of having an interconnected system are well worth it.

Carefully choosing a technical partner is the most essential aspect of system integration. Opt for a company with battle-tested expertise in connecting various systems and a portfolio of successful projects.
At Modeso, we build complex integrated systems, helping our clients achieve better performance and service quality. If you need a team of professionals experienced in system integration, contact us.

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