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Emanation Versus Integration
January 24, 2007 09:00 AM

By Ron Bunn
Ron Bunn
3B Dataservices

Many years ago, more than I even care to recall, I was having one of those father – son, “heart to heart” chats with my dad about the “facts of life." I asked him how some people could live a life of total abstinence. He immediately responded with; “Easy, never had. Never missed.” I said “Dad; what do you mean by that?” He then went on to explain to me that there were some things in life that we would probably never miss, nor would we understand how wonderful they really were until we first experienced them at a personal level.

I now understand just how smart my father really was. I find it interesting that I have not only discovered the wisdom in his comments but I have experienced it as well for there are many other things in life on which similar parallels can be drawn. For example, emanation versus integration.

Any good systems analyst’s examination of the Infinite Answers system will quickly reveal the real truth. It is not an integrated system at all, it’s emanated and emanation is vastly different than integration. Just much better. Granted, given enough time, work, and money, the traditionally integrated system will portray similarities to an emanated one, but examined closely and close comparisons drawn, the shortfalls of integration will be revealed.

There are two reasons why we find it necessary to talk to people about our system as though our system is integrated even though it really isn’t. First, for the simple reason that integration is a buzzword the marketplace understands. In actual fact, it really is more integrated than any traditional system could possibly be, but in an entirely different way. Secondly, emanation replaces traditional integration so easily, so well, so seamlessly, the results are astounding. A user defined, but system controlled workflow process helps ensure the timeliness and integrity of data so effectively that it tends to integrate the people and all the related business objectives as well. As a result, traditionally modular “after the fact” accounting drudgery is replaced with an absolutely seamless “Let’s get the job done!” functionality.

Obviously your real question is: “What is the real difference?” Lots. Let’s first discuss integration from the traditional perspective. What is it and what complications does it present?

Look up the word “Integrated” in the dictionary. You will find it has synonyms such as connected, attached, wired, linked, joined, plugged in, hooked up, and on line. Every one of these words is suggestive of a “marrying” together, which is also suggestive of the two parts functioning together as one. A very powerful concept to say the least. As good as this philosophy appears on the surface, conventional modular integration is almost always besieged with questions, concerns and sometimes even flaws.

For example: Are the two modules to be integrated really compatible? How do we interface data and processes from two modules and still be able to interface with yet a third or fourth? Maybe today we will interface with this module and next year, or the year after, we will try another but what will this other module look like by then? Are we linking “modules” with similar screen presentations and processes or do we have to re-train all our users on two very unique systems plus interface processes? Just how good are the data structures of the different modules when we compare one with the other in greater detail? If a problem develops in compatibility, which data structure or module is going to be changed? Might it be both? Are both “modules” compatible with our current operating system? What happens if we upgrade our operating system? Will the modules remain fully compatible?

There is an old saying that goes something like this: “On and on it goes, where it will end, nobody knows.” You are probably getting the picture.

Admittedly, systems integrators are generally pretty clever people. They have to be. Your business and their reputations are both at stake. Integration services are the mainstay of many huge IT organizations and their primary objective is to connect what might be (or might not be), fully compatible solutions. The first goal, always, is simply to “make it work”. The second is virtually always “make it better.” There is nothing wrong with either one of these goals, nor their order, but the first one usually consumes the entire budget and then, when it comes around to “making it better”, integration projects tend to falter, often badly. It is little wonder that the bulk of the marketplace can ill afford to empower sophisticated integrated computer systems. It is extremely risky and can become very expensive.

Now, let’s look at a new alternative, emanation.

To empower the virtues of emanation we first engineered a solid core system where all accounting document data is created, executed, and forever stored. By design, there are no modules. Integration as such is eliminated. Data structure dictates a single data set for the recording of almost all transactions, sometimes even non accounting ones. As a result, by default, commonality of data structure is guaranteed which also tends to make many programs multipurpose. Database activities or accounting processes, normally modular, simply become functions defined by the characteristics of journal definitions. Journal definitions define screen presentation, process control, and the accounting cycle. A journal can be used to define virtually any kind of document process one could imagine. As a result, when we want to add new activity or module, we simply define a new journal. In effect, the new activity (or module if you prefer to call it that), simply EMANATES out of or from the existing core. It is not really added on at all.

New applications, normally viewed as modules, simply become quickly implemented “Application on Demand” products. The normal nightmares associated with complicated system integration are replaced by simple, clean emanation. As a result, all your daily activities can now be conveniently processed through a totally seamless environment with an unsurpassed commonality in data capture, processing and reporting.

As a bonus, to thousands of organizations, emanation means gaining benefits normally afforded only big companies, easily and affordably. It becomes even easier when we understand that doing it all at once may be convenient but it is not always mandatory. As the company grows, options grow. New information flows, new accounting functionality is virtually instantly available when the time is right.

Just as my dad talked about in our discussion about the “facts of life”, the true benefits associated with emanation will not be truly appreciated, moreover - won’t even be missed, unless personally experienced. In the end it is our choices that give us significance, not what we typically think of as being our success.

At 13, I learned form my Dad, a man with only a grade 6 education, that most things in life, almost everything, would be a matter of choice, my choice, and that there would be many times I would encounter the opportunity to choose between immediate success and future significance. Abstinence would only be one of them. I also learned that being right may not be very popular but it is never the wrong thing to do.

Emanation in itself is not significance, no more so than integration. However, implementing emanation, the virtually unlimited opportunities for choices it can present, due to its timeliness, accuracy and easy use could provide you a significance you may someday be very proud to share.

Ron Bunn
3B Dataservices
Mr. Bunn's formal accounting training led him to an eleven year tenure as comptroller for a mid-sized construction company which provided the impetus for launching a career in information systems. His thirty plus years working with IBM midrange platforms and clients representing a wide variety of industries, has afforded him a strong background in systems design and information flow processes.

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