Data integration lies at the heart of enterprise digital strategy in the current business environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed customer expectations, making data more critical to creating optimal customer journeys and identifying new opportunities to achieve business objectives.

The problem is, many enterprises have a massive volume of data assets but lack the controls and governance strategies to leverage them. Proper integration requires inspecting and assessing the entire business model to identify opportunities for enterprise data to inform responses to business challenges and enhance operational efficiency. Read on for a look at how data integration consulting can help enterprises connect their disparate data into a unified whole.

What is data integration and why is it important?

Any organization operating in the digital economy collects an enormous volume of data, whether from customer interactions, financial transactions, research and development, or other means. That information is stored across the entire data ecosystem, but often enterprises don’t have effective management strategies to break down silos and derive meaningful value from their enterprise data.

Enterprises can use data integration services provided by consulting experts to craft an appropriate integration strategy. A data integration strategy enables the organization to exert greater visibility and oversight of all their data. This enables them to know and understand exactly the type of data they have and then combine it into a consolidated whole to create products, services and customer experiences that solve real problems.

Core principles of data integration

We’ve identified three core principles of data integration enterprises must include in their integration strategies to successfully consolidate their data. These are:

 

Discoverability

Data integration is ineffective and ultimately counterproductive if enterprises don’t know where data is located, who has access to it and whether it’s in the form of API. Data discoverability requires a good data management practice, including a comprehensive catalogue that gives enterprises visibility over their entire infrastructure.

 

Security

Securing data is a critical part of data integration. Digital tools that enable virtualization make data more usable and dynamic, but it doesn’t mean enterprises should share data with all parties involved. It’s critical to have a data privacy and security framework in place to ensure that only parties who need the data can access it.

 

Defined metadata

Enterprises need to have clearly defined metadata to ensure data is up to date and relevant so it can be used optimally by any party who needs access to it.

What are the main steps associated with data integration?

Data integration should never happen on its own. Rather, it should be part of a larger data strategy that includes inspecting and assessing every aspect of the business and identifying missed opportunities that could be capitalized on, if data was properly leveraged. Here’s a step-by-step process for initiating data integration:

Start with a strategy:

Assess the market, particularly the likely future trends and changes. Determine the capabilities that will be required to stay ahead of those changes and what opportunities are currently being missed by a lack of data.

Assess the customer experience:

Once the target business capabilities are understood and detailed, enterprises need to work backward, determining the type of customer experience required to meet those capabilities. That might mean upgrading current offerings or creating a completely new product or service.

Recreate the customer journey:

Enterprises need to determine exactly how to transform the customer journey. This step should include deciding what technology will be needed to create the desired customer experience.

Determine data needs:

Proper data integration requires enterprises to understand the data they need to create their desired customer journeys, how it’s spread throughout their ecosystem and how the implementation and data migration process will take place.

Once all of this information is fully assessed and understood, enterprises can begin moving into the technical phases of the process, including planning and designing containers, API or other target technologies.

How COVID-19 impacted data integration

The pandemic drastically changed customer expectations and the way customers interact with their preferred brands and businesses at large. Some of the changes relevant to data integration include:

  • Customers expect a variety of different digital access channels to utilize/purchase products and services.
  • Customer service has become more important than ever, meaning enterprises need to leverage the data they have to personalize the customer journey.
  • There is now an enormous demand for e-commerce enablement. Enterprises should ensure their products and services are available for purchase online.

Before the pandemic, most organizations were conducting business in face-to-face physical commerce settings. Data integration in that period was a luxury, but not a necessity to carry out normal business operations.

Physical interactions have been replaced with digital ones such as Mobile Apps, Web Apps and Cloud services. These capabilities require an infrastructure to give enterprises visibility of data and the ability to manage access to it. Digital integration is essential for success in the modern, post-pandemic economy.

Software to assist in data integration

A data integration consultant can give enterprises access to a range of tools and software that can streamline and assist the entire data integration process, from cleansing and validating data to moving it between locations. These are the main types of data integration platforms at an enterprises’ disposal:

  • On-premise
  • Cloud-based
  • Open-source
  • Proprietary

Data integration solutions need to have a number of capabilities to ensure optimal integration. They need to be able to map specific data points across the entire ecosystem to give enterprises the most comprehensive oversight of their data architecture, as well as the business intelligence needed to make smarter decisions. A data integration platform should also be able to handle data migration from the legacy system to the current data architecture, in addition to scaling along with the changing needs of the business to power future growth.

The right team of data integration consulting experts will help enterprises choose the data integration solution that is most appropriate for their business process and needs.

Partnering with the right technology leader

Data integration has become essential for enterprises operating in the post-pandemic digital economy. Customer expectations have changed, and it’s critical for enterprises to leverage the data they have to create the optimal customer experience.

Torry Harris Integration Solutions is a trusted advisor to enterprise organizations across the world, and we have the tools and skills needed to help enterprises in the digital economy realize their wider platform objectives.

Contact us today to get started.

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