Integration is key to being a data-driven business

- Diganta Kumar Barooah

Key highlights:

  • A Dresner report reveals that 80% of business leaders consider data integration crucial for their business.
  • Gartner attributes implementation challenges to centralized teams being unable to meet demand, leading to a fractured way of managing integrations.
  • Businesses cannot ignore data integration, with 55% of Chief Digital Officers reportedly managing 1,0001,000+ sources of data and 91% predicting an increase in data sources.
  • Benefits include easy access to data, improved compliance, new revenue opportunities, and data democratization.

Business success depends a lot on the speed of decision-making, the agility to adapt to change, and the level of customer experience an organization provides. Data integration is powering these diverse capabilities that makes seamless data flows possible across the organization.

Data integration enables organizations to dismantle data silos and derive a holistic view of data from disparate sources including traditional databases, cloud-based applications, social media, and IoT devices.

Insights from a Dresner report published by Forbes indicate that 80% of business leaders consider data integration crucial for their business, with 67% relying on integration to support analytics and BI platforms.

A real-world example of data integration success involves the migration of data from legacy systems to the cloud by telecommunications company Three Ireland’s youth brand, 48. By leveraging data integration, the company pioneered the Irish market’s first flexible mobile plan, giving customers control over how they use monthly data through a cloud-based digital platform. The results: Three Ireland witnessed a quadruple increase in its subscriber base and a 67% reduction in its churn rate.

Another example is that of energy leader Schneider Electric, which unified various technology partners on its IoT platform - Ecostruxure, facilitating effective data integration across its diverse businesses. As an outcome, Schneider Electric onboarded more than 190 partners garnering over 75,000 users on its open business platform.

However, nearly 90% of the companies surveyed by IDG and TeamDynamix reported facing data integration backlogs. Gartner finds that many centralized integration teams struggle to keep up with demand, leading to individual applications and non-IT staff implementing their integrations independently, bypassing the organization's strategic approach.

The role of data integration in today’s enterprises

A recent study by Informatica to uncover the priorities of Chief Digital Officers revealed that data complexity was growing, with 55% reporting that they managed more than 1,000 sources of data and 91% predicting a further increase in data sources. Amid these changes, businesses are leveraging advanced integration methods such as data virtualization and application integration, as opposed to traditional approaches such as batch processing. Companies can expect benefits such as interoperability, cost saving, and smarter decision-making from newer data integration methods, enhancing their competitiveness in today's dynamic business landscape.


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Tackling data silos

In the Data Paradox study by Forrester Consulting for Dell Technologies, 60% of business leaders cited data silos as a primary obstacle to capture, analyze, and leverage data effectively. Data integration helps break down barriers by connecting different applications, enabling connectivity and a seamless flow of information across an organization. For instance, NASA uses diverse intersecting datasets to power its Deep Space Transportation System. By leveraging data integration, NASA achieved a unified view of various datasets, empowering its engineers to make faster mission-critical decisions. Their time to gather information, which took weeks earlier, is now reduced to seconds or minutes.

Smooth data exchange between on-premises and cloud systems

With the growth of cloud-based offerings such as software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service, there is a growing demand for data integration across cloud and on-premises environments. MarkWide Research reports that cloud-based deployment models are increasingly favored for their scalability, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility, with Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) as a preferred deployment model. McKinsey reports a utility services company's success in using a cloud-based data platform along with container technology that enabled microservices such as searching billing data. This allowed applications to be built on a modular basis, enabling rapid deployment of new self-services to 100,000 business customers within days instead of months. It also facilitated the delivery of real-time data for analytics while reducing costs by transacting in the cloud rather than on expensive on-premises legacy systems.

Supporting compliance

Data integration has today moved from being a best practice to a compliance necessity due to data privacy regulations. In the US healthcare sector, adherence to the Health Level 7 (HL7) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard requires organizations to ensure the secure exchange of healthcare data between computer systems, facilitating authorized access and enhancing patient care. Integrating data from different sources ensures compatibility with various systems, enabling seamless communication and interaction. Future-fit businesses are now utilizing solutions to support FHIR-compliant APIs and maximize on the benefits of data integration and interoperability.

Offering new revenue opportunities

Data integration helps businesses achieve a comprehensive view of their enterprise information and track patterns within it, allowing for the analysis of emerging product or service preferences and forecasting market demands. With data integration, Indonesian telecom giant, Telkomsel, leveraged data analytics to provide personalized packages via its new app, offering tailored digital services such as video streaming and gaming. As a result, the app garnered 24 million active users, marking a tenfold increase from the previous version.

Facilitating data democratization

When organizations fail to provide relevant data to specific teams on time due to data silos or cumbersome IT processes, they risk missing out on business opportunities. Data integration facilitates data democratization by granting immediate access to essential information for better decision-making within specific departments. For instance, Mercedes-Benz has made technology and data accessible to teams across its manufacturing processes, including shop floor employees who have access to real-time production and management data. Staff at Mercedes-Benz can access its MO360 Data Platform through a self-service portal on company devices such as smartphones and laptops to access insights. Employees can now make data-based decisions to predict and prevent problems in production and logistics.

A key imperative of a data-driven business is to achieve a unified view of its data across various entities, functions, systems, and applications. Data integration plays a pivotal role in combining data from diverse locations and in different formats. By breaking down silos and improving data accessibility, data integration enables businesses to enhance compliance, analyze patterns in data to unlock new opportunities, and make data-driven decision-making a reality across the organization and not just a top-down approach.

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About the author

Diganta Kumar Barooah

Senior Manager – Strategy & Insights

Torry Harris Integration Solutions