Small Business Challenge – Integrating Applications

There’s many problems smaller businesses have and one is ensuring that the many different applications they have work together, reports WSJ, about a recent Yankee Group Survey.
When you have one application tracking customers, another for inventory and another for the sales flow you don’t get an integrated look into your business and can’t maximize resources effectively.
The WSJ writes More than half of the firms surveyed with 20 to 99 employees cite such integration as a challenge, and it also tops the list for the companies with two to 19 workers, at 36%. In a related question, more than 45% of small firms said it was difficult to get work done with unshared business information sitting separately in different applications.
There’s two ways to integrate applications (there could be more and I’d appreciate hearing from my solution providers). One way is to have ONE software for all of your main business processes. The other is to have “connections” that link different software together.
I know software from NetSuite, Microsoft, Intuit, Sage, Everest and others try to give you one software that can do pretty much everything you need. Other software, such as ACT! or is more specific for a particular function and would need to be integrated into other software.