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Integration Sells

We've closed out Network Computing's annual reader survey for 2005, and we're poring over your responses in preparation for our annual survey cover story, which will appear in the Sept. 22 issue. If you want to see what our reader survey coverage will look like, take a look at last year's cover story.

One of the things that's striking about this year's survey is the heavy emphasis on integration as a key theme, not only as a back-room project in the data center, but as a central criterion for future product selection. During the halcyon days of the Internet boom, enterprises were always looking for technologies to change the way they do business. Now, apparently, they're looking for technologies that don't change the way they do business.

When we asked readers which criterion was the most important in selecting a new product or technology, nearly 53 percent of readers said that "ability to smoothly integrate with existing IT environment" was at the top of the list. When we asked what level of consideration is given to integration issues when evaluating technology purchases, nearly 85 percent ranked integration at the high end of the scale.

None of these responses should come as a surprise to IT professionals, but they should carry a message to vendors: Integration sells. Too many vendors develop and market their products as if they are the only vendor in the world, and they handle integration issues only after the horse is out of the barn. In the coming year, vendors would be smart to tackle the integration question first, and leave off the bells and whistles. The ability to work with what enterprises have already got is at least as important as what your product can do.