Integration, So Your Kids Can Understand

Rob Karel has been doing a nice job explaining Big Data, Metadata and other topics for Mom, so now I’d like to tackle another key group of stakeholders – your children. My kids have been asking me for years what I do at work.  It hasn’t been easy to come up with an explanation that they can understand, so I usually just end up with something like “I go to meetings and stuff.” That works for a while, but it’s not very informative or inspiring.  So if their friends ask “what does your dad do for work”, I can’t imagine what stories they make up. So here goes my attempt to explain to a sixth-grader what the job of a systems integration professional is.

Child: “Dad, what do you do for work?”

Dad: “I am a Systems Integrator which means I make different computers work together as if they were one. Systems Integration is kind of like a family. Before mom and I got married, we were each doing our own thing. Once we got married, we were able to do things that were impossible on our own – like help each other and have kids for example.”

Child: “Does that mean you make new baby computers – like an iPad?”

Dad: “Not exactly.  But I do bring data together from two or more systems to create new information that helps make better products and services for customers.  And when different systems need the same data, like customer names or what they bought, I make sure that someone only has to type in the data once and then move it automatically to all the other places. This makes everyone at work happy since they always have the information they need and they don’t have to enter it multiple times. So customers are happier and employees are happier.”

Child: “I guess that’s kind of kool.  But I still don’t know what integration is.”

Dad: “Let me try explaining it this way.  Let’s say you go to Mom and ask “Can I have an ice cream cone?”  and Mom says “Not now, it will spoil your appetite for dinner, but go ask Dad.”  So then you come to me and say “can you buy me an ice cream – Mom said it was OK.”  Well that’s not exactly what Mom said, and if we’re not integrated I would take your word for it and buy you an ice cream.  But since we ARE integrated, I know that it’s too close to dinner time and Mom would never agree.”

Child: “That makes sense.”


Child: “Dad, can I have an ice cream?”

Dad: “Go ask Mom.  But don’t tell her I said it was OK.  Just ask nicely.”