By Henning Lund - April 05, 2021
Today, most businesses depend deeply on data. Data drives everything from customer support to business strategy. Businesses collect unprecedented data loads from a growing number of sources.
Legacy systems, sensors, log files, mobile devices - all of these generate data that give companies business intelligence and insight. They can become a strong competitive advantage. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that someone needs to make sense of this overwhelming amount of data. This is where data integration solutions come into play. But what is data integration and how is it working?
This quick data integration guide will get you acquainted with the basics of data integration.
Simply put, data integration is the “art” of combining information from disparate sources into something useful. Data integration combines data from different sources and provides users with a unified view.
Take the example of a website where users can search for a variety of information about cities (traffic statistics, weather, hotels, demographics, etc.). The information may come from different sources/databases (traffic statistics, weather statistics, etc). This data has to be consolidated in order to be used in one single application.
Anybody who’s tried to fetch information from multiple systems for reporting purposes understands the importance – and the complexity - of data integration. It doesn't get easier with large volumes of data, in the era of big data.
When a business grows, new locations, new revenue streams and changing priorities will increase the amount and affect the form of its data. It will also challenge data quality, making data integration more and more important. It will also make it more and more complex.
The need for consolidating data has existed for a long time – much before modern data integration tools were developed. IT executives have been fighting data siloes ever since IT systems have started collecting data in different systems.
The solution has always been a data integration strategy. However, in the beginning, integrating multiple data sources typically meant a lot of ad-hoc hand coding between different data sets. This resulted in an expensive solution, with difficult maintenance.
Often, these integrations were developed from scratch in-house or by a partner. They were poorly documented. And, if the developer who developed them left the company, updating or modifying the integration was a nightmare. A general advice: if you can, avoid hand coded, homemade solutions.
Today, modern data integration tools have been developed to handle the data collecting, data transformation, and data provisioning functions. They are created to do this in an efficient, transparent and highly adaptable manner.
Data integration systems such as RapidiOnline come out-of-the-box with a number of pre-configured integration points between pre-defined systems. This could be for example Salesforce’s CRM and Microsoft Dynamics’ ERP.
This is ideal because data driven companies that wish to integrate two (or more) systems always have common ways of working and therefore similar requirements.
The benefits of 2 systems (for example an ERP and a CRM) taken separately are undeniable. They can by themselves make a huge difference in a company’s operations.
Combined together however, these two systems can potentially help companies take an exponential leap. Data integration benefits are numerous.
Let’s take the ERP-CRM integration example. Companies typically benefit from a CRM-ERP integration by:
Many of the companies that embark on a data integration project find themselves faced with serious challenges. Typically, it is because the complexity of a data integration project typically grows with:
The above-described challenges can easily be solved if you choose the right data integration solution. Making the right choice is vital. This will allow you to bring all these elements together and deliver the desired one view on your data.
When evaluating a solution, you need to make sure that:
Would you like to learn how easily you can integrate your CRM, ERP and any other systems or end-points? Download our data integration handbook and get all the answers.