The Importance of a “Data Integration First” Strategy

Posted Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
Posted in: Master Data Management, Data Migration/Integration, Data Management

With the increasing volume of information collected through a variety of channels, businesses face a segmented approach to data. Here we explore the problem of data silos and how a data integration first strategy can help you solve the issue…

Data is your most valuable asset. Utilising it correctly can allow you to make intelligent business decisions, drive growth and improve profitability. Nonetheless, according to Experian, 66% of companies lack a centralised approach to data, with data siloes being one of the most common issues.

The problem with data silos

As explained on thewhir.com, the average business uses up to 13 different applications, therefore data is scattered amongst disparate systems. This results in poor communication between departments, systems and processes, leading to inability to meet both clients’ needs and business goals. Moreover, important decisions are based on misinformation, which can have disastrous effects.

What is data integration?

Data integration allows businesses to combine data residing in different sources to provide users with a real-time view of business performance. As a strategy, integration is the first step toward transforming data into meaningful and valuable information. According to the Smart Data Collective, “If businesses want the right kind of data to underpin advanced analytics processes or to create multi-dimensional views of customers, data integration must be pursued as a strategic function that aligns with business objectives.”

The benefits of data integration first strategy

Data integration can support your growth strategy, helping you retain customers and increase profitability as well as:

Improve decision making

Access to real-time data presented in an easy to digest format will provide you with invaluable acumen, helping you to be proactive, uncovering opportunities and identifying potential bottlenecks before they occur.

Improve customer experience

Siloed data sets prevent a complete view of customers which impact on sales and ultimately revenue. Only when you have access to real-time customer information as well as the historical data can you target your customers with the right message at the right time to improve your customer experience, loyalty and ultimately revenue.

Streamline operations

From procurement and supply chain to manufacturing and product management, real-time access is useful for improving processes, increasing production, and lowering costs across various departments, including sales, production, distribution and more.

Increase productivity

If you have to constantly move between numerous systems to gather insight, your productivity is significantly reduced. With automatic data integration, your data from all the different sources is pooled into a single customer view, allowing you to be more productive.

Predict the future
Combine historical data with sales pipeline information to make forecasts and anticipate customer demands. This will help you evaluate your products and services, while providing you with the ability to remain ahead of the competition.

How to begin your data integration journey

Most organisations use a number of systems and applications residing on cloud, social and mobile platforms. Nevertheless, as we discussed above, often those systems are disjointed, interrupting the ever so important data flow.

To overcome this, it is important to adopt a data integration strategy. However, it is not a “one and done” activity. It’s a process that evolves over time and may include many different approaches in order to bring together your disparate data sources. It is not only a cultural shift but also needs to be built into your IT management solution.

To start with it is important to:

  • Identify the importance of data to people and processes
  • Understand how you’re processing and integrating data
  • Identify silos among internal and external systems

As we discuss here, the challenge with data integration starts when attempting to merge data from legacy systems into a new system. Due to inconsistencies such as formatting, spelling mistakes, duplicates or naming conventions, it is important you conduct a thorough cleanse, ensuring only reliable data is brought across to your new system. This will ensure a successful data integration project with minimal delays and costs.

Are you ready to adopt a data integration strategy?

It is essential to realise data siloes can result in operational inefficiencies, which can impact your business growth and agility, something we discussed here. From inaccurate reporting to wasted money and resources, siloed data can lead to poor decision-making, impacting on efficiency and profitability.

Don’t put your business future at risk! According to Data Management Survey by SAS, 93% of leaders agree that their data strategy allows them to innovate existing business processes through improved analytics.  Explore our Data Integration solutions here >

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Written by

Martin is CEO and founder of DQ Global, a Data Quality Software company based in the UK. With an engineering background, Martin previously ran a CRM Software business. He has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience over the years and has established himself as a Data Quality Improvement Evangelist and an industry expert.
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