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Top challenges of data integration projects

By Henning Lund - August 11, 2016

Collecting, integrating and analyzing data can give enterprises the full picture of business performance, trends and the visibility they need to understand business patterns and take corrective actions. However, the relevant data does not always make it to the mission critical systems that need and require it. In most companies, systems are implemented to collect data, for example CRM systems gather customer and sales information while ERP system have a stronger focus on accounting and financial information. Without integration between these quite complementary systems, companies only create silos of information and the data collected does not add much value. It is vital for companies using several systems to ensure that data makes it to where it needs to be and that data can be represented, changed or transformed as business requires it.

A single view of your data

Over the last few years, the need for data integration has grown significantly. Why? Simply because more and more companies have implemented different systems and applications to satisfy the optimization needs of different groups and departments. ERP, Accounting, Warehousing, Sales or Marketing Automation systems have been implemented to answer different business needs in organizations. Data is spread out over numerous systems and companies have to integrate these to have one single view of the data. Why? Because having one single view of your data is the only sane way to make business decisions, and that single view can only be achieved by bringing together these disparate systems of information. OK, I have to admit that this is often easier said than done, and many companies find themselves faced to serious challenges when they get started with a data integration projects, because the complexity of your data integration project will typically grow with:

  1. The number of systems you use: Data volumes tend to increase with the number of data sources you have. I have seen enterprises having nothing less than hundreds of systems, running on multiple platforms (for instance a combination of on-premise, Cloud and private hosting), in various versions and different geographical locations. When data resides in so many silos it adds a whole new complexity and security dimension to a data integration project.
  2. The customizations made to your systems: Although today many systems and applications come out-of-the-box with role-tailored functionality, most implementation projects include extra customization and development efforts to support enterprise-, pision- or user-specific working processes and habits… This can result in hundreds of custom modules or features; literally a maintenance and upgrade nightmare, but also quite a challenge when you have to integrate the different systems.
  3. The lack of consolidated approach to data integration: When data integration is approached as a multitude of point-to-point custom integration scripts without a common direction, then the data integration project is doomed to fail to deliver the desired business critical single view of data. Data must be synchronized in an automated and reliable manner across all platforms for a company to have one version of the truth. Errors caused by inconsistent, data and manual data entry can prove very costly for companies and disrupt business activities.

Overcome data integration challenges

These challenges can easily be overcome with a strong focus on data quality at both IT and business level and a close collaboration between the two (and joint ownership of the data integration project). When that is in place, your job will be to find the right data integration solution so that you can bring all these elements together and deliver the desired one view on your data. Nowadays, there are many pre-configured integration solutions that can jump start your integration project – for example the RapidiOnline integration between Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. If you have eliminated the above-mentioned challenges and adopted a unified approach to data quality and data management, these pre-configured solutions are the perfect starting point for your project.


About the author

Henning Lund

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With over 25 years’ experience in strategically propelling businesses forward, Henning is considered a business development entrepreneur with a passion for transforming businesses, sales and marketing operations through out-of-the-box thinking, concepts building and process automation to improve overall performance and scalability.

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