The future of integration platforms is prescriptive rather than descriptive

As our lives get more connected, we often find ourselves building and managing integrations between our devices and our digital or physical worlds. But as the internet of things evolves, so will the cloud platforms that help build these integrations. The next generation of integration platforms will be prescriptive where they will be able to observe our behavior across various facets of life and automatically build or recommend integrations for us.

The popularity of APIs today has given rise to vendors such as IFTTT and Zapier that help us tie various services together very easily, without requiring us to program to the APIs ourselves. Gartner likes to call such vendors iPaaS or Integration Platform as a Service providers.

You can specify a trigger and a corresponding action to do something fun like blink your lights when your favorite sports team wins or save energy by switching off your lights when the sun comes out. These services make it easy to build applications that combine services from different web offerings. But they all ultimately require the end user to build and manage the integrations.

The beauty of the Nest thermostat, apart from the design of course, is that it learns our schedule and programs itself, thus enabling us to earn greater energy savings. The beauty of Google NOW is that it passively delivers information to us that it predicts we will want, based on our search habits. These products aim at improving productivity and efficiency by reducing the user involvement.

Similarly, integration platforms of the future will be able to observe our behavior across our professional, personal, digital and physical worlds and make recommendations to us, often programming integrations automatically. For e.g. your integration platform will learn that once your alarm rings in the morning, you take about an hour to leave your home for work. Hence your car will automatically start warming up 55 minutes after your alarm rings. If you end up taking a work call from home, it will postpone starting your car accordingly. And if you forget to turn off your alarm when you head out on vacation, you won’t have to worry about your car because it will learn that you are not there at home.

Integration platforms of the future will take advantage of advances in machine learning, speech recognition, motion detection, location services and sensor networks and evolve from being descriptive and predictive to prescriptive. They will transform into PIPaaS or Prescriptive Integration Platforms as a Service.

Seema Jethani is director of product management at Enstratius, a Dell software company.