This month's column is contributed by R.W. (Bob) Tretiak, chairman and CEO of 5by5 Software Ventures Ltd. and a member of the Integration Consortium.

Historically, integration projects have been complex and expensive undertakings. As a result, the small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) consider themselves excluded, believing only large enterprises can participate and realize the benefits. It is an appealing proposition for SMEs to improve operational efficiency, streamline business processes, maximize their software and hardware resources, minimize risk, etc. by integrating IT systems and aligning with business activities. What worries the SME is the high price tag. With many millions of dollars spent on integration projects annually and more than 75 percent of these projects failing, can they afford to take the risk?

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