Data Integration 101: What It Is & Why You Need It

Cloud Data Engineer at | + posts

Venkat Obillaneni is Aezion Cloud Data Engineer and Data Practice Lead.

Data integration (DI) can help savvy businesses deal with mountains of data originating from many different sources, be it customer transactions, support tickets, supply chain updates, marketing campaigns, or the many streaming platforms (i.e., social media, Slack groups, etc.) being incorporated into business workflows. This data is incredibly valuable and helps businesses keep a finger on the pulse of their audience, but the trouble is, compiling and analyzing the data is not easy without a well thought out data strategy.

Even with the most advanced business intelligence tools, it’s difficult to deal with so many different sources of data, especially when the insights you can produce from it have so many uses themselves. That’s where data integration comes in. Data integration makes BI possible by pulling data from all of your unique sources, in whatever format it originates, and bringing it together so it can be used to make sense of your business and drive smart decisions.

Through data integration, businesses can tap into a unified source of truth that integrates data from different sources, formats it so it’s consistent, organizes it so it’s accessible, and cleans it up to ensure it’s accurate. While data integration is far from an effortless process, it’s an investment that is sure to pay off in the long run. So, here’s why you need it and how to get started.

Why Is Data Integration Important?

Data integration on its own does very little for your company. The power of data integration is unlocked when you use it to build a foundation for business intelligence (BI) initiatives. Using data integration, your business can create a single source of truth from which your BI tools can uncover hidden insights.

Without it, BI tools will only have disjointed access to discrete data sources, and the data may be inconsistent or inaccurate. Through a combination of processes and tools, data integration ensures accessibility and accuracy while improving data quality through maintenance and enrichment. Plus, leveraging data integration to put everything in one place makes it easier to adhere to your company’s data governance framework and ensure compliance with data security and other policies.

All in all, while you canĀ attemptĀ BI without data integration, insights become more plentiful, powerful, useful, and trustworthy when your BI program is built upon a foundation of data ditegration.

Key Challenges

It’s no secret that data integration is a major undertaking. Aside from deciding which sources to pull from and how to do so securely, you need to establish processes and tools that will ensure consistency and accuracy once all data is brought into one place.

For instance, if you tie in both your CRM and your OMS and one has a customer’s name written as “Katie” and the other as “Katy,” which one takes precedence? Data integration can help you avoid such errors — often introduced through manual data input — and others by automating processes for routing data maintenance and enrichment.

With these things in mind, the key challenges in data integration include:

  • Creating a team willing and capable to support the data strategy and do the research and hard work to ensure its long-term success.
  • Extracting data from various sources is never easy, especially when dealing with strict information security policies like HIPAA.
  • Syncing up multiple sources of data is another big challenge, but failing to tackle it can lead to issues with accuracy and redundancy, which in turn impacts the quality of insights and costs money (i.e., unoptimized storage space, bad decisions, etc).
  • Choosing the wrong toolset (e.g., NoSQL vs. SQL) will cause big operational problems down the road. Organizations must think long-term when choosing the right tools for their system.

While these challenges are easy enough to overcome with the right guidance, finding that guidance is not always easy. Having a professional team on your side is essential to efficiently utilizing resources and avoiding common pitfalls along the way.

Getting Started

Are you interested in leveraging data integration to power business intelligence initiatives and support decision-making that achieves high-confidence, strategic, and sustainable growth? Aezion’s DI experts can put you on the path to success by helping you develop a plan, find the right tools, and leverage a bespoke data integration solution.

Contact us to schedule a consultation today to learn how data integration can support your business’s key goals and get guidance on the steps to get you there.

Cloud Data Engineer at | + posts

Venkat Obillaneni is Aezion Cloud Data Engineer and Data Practice Lead.