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Data Integration Strategy Drives Integration Investments

Author: Tobin Thankachen | | August 9, 2022


 

It’s not enough to invest money in a data integration and analytics system to achieve success with it. Instead, today’s most successful companies embed their digital integration and analysis insights into the culture and processes of their organization to ensure that the whole enterprise gains the values of that investment.

 
To achieve that goal – a comprehensive use of corporate data to inform and guide all aspects of the enterprise – requires implementing a strategy as the project begins that lets everyone know what’s going to happen, why it’s going to happen, and what will be expected from every employee and leader.

First: Establish the Goal

The primary goal in any digital modernization project is to improve the company’s fortunes. It makes sense, then, to tie that project to integral corporate objectives, whether those are to strengthen customer relationships, build new markets, or streamline production values. The individual goal will define the elements of the strategy.

Second: Develop the Strategy

Building a digital integration strategy to achieve a business goal is challenging, however. Too many organizations jump into technology investments without thoroughly examining why they need them and how they’re going to use them, nor do they take the time to inform their company of those values. Further, most companies continue to rely on legacy programming for day-to-day operations because that’s what workers know and use. As a result, it requires a major effort to shift to a fully embraced and integrated digital culture even when it is so obviously of great value to the company.

The failure to develop an enterprise-wide strategy for a data integration project before making the investment is a mistake, according to several business leaders who recently spoke on the subject. In many cases, while the corporate leaders themselves may personally understand the value of the investment to their enterprise, their C-Suite colleagues and general workforce aren’t so well-informed. According to a 2021 study, only 25% of respondent firms believed their entire enterprise was ‘data literate,’ meaning that every department knew its data sources, values, and uses. That knowledge gap across an organization can cause confusion about what to do and hesitation to do anything at all. It can stall the digital integration and modernization project altogether.

Instead, the better practice is to develop a data integration and usage strategy that will

  • connect digital assets to corporate goals,
  • inform business divisions about their data and its relevance to corporate success, and
  • hold everyone accountable for their data usage decisions.

 
The strategy itself will be complex; there are innumerable digital, physical, and human elements at play in every company and all must be included in the plan:

1. Include everyone and everything

The strategy development plan must encompass all elements of the organization, no matter their size, significance, or location:

  • Foundational corporate programming that: establishes the core of the business’s activities, maintains corporate operations, and maintains regulatory and compliance standards, to name just a few.
  • Companies with more than one facility will also gather and distribute their data to and from those resources.
  • Data collection, storage, and preparation services to ensure the information is ready for use.
  • Data security practices to ensure only authorized users can gain access to it and for the right reasons.
  • Disaster recovery programming for when the worst happens and everyone – everyone – needs to be on board with implementing solutions.

 
Practices and activities that impact all these corporate elements must be strategized in concert with all the others so the corporate can function fully and as desired.

2. Think of Data as THE Product

In reality, you’re not investing in the soft- and hardware of the system just to own that soft- and hardware. You’re investing in the information generated BY that system, so it’s the data, specifically, that you want to obtain. As the strategy evolves, clarify exactly which data is needed by each corporate department to attain its particular goals, then build the integration plan to ensure it gets the information it requires.

3.  Clarify the Metadata

‘Metadata’ is information about information, such as its source, where it’s stored, and who has access to it. In most companies, metadata can be generic for the entire enterprise, and everyone who needs it can access it. Accordingly, those users also need to understand its relevance to their corporate unit, so they know where to look and for what when they search the metadata resources.

4. Include an Integration Lifecycle

Information ages and becomes obsolete, so parameters must be installed to ensure that users access only current and accurate information. Datavail can assist your DataOps team in evaluating your organization’s data for currency and help develop the ongoing process to maintain current data within your databases.

Third: Get Help

Chances are, data management and integration aren’t your organization’s core competencies even though you understand the value that those concepts provide, and you want to build them into your fundamental business operations. Datavail’s data integration specialists understand the process of helping customers become data literate and can help you develop your strategy to bring your organization to that level of digital comprehension. And because Datavail’s experts are also literate in Azure’s Data Factory, they can help your company access those resources to maximize the data products it produces.

Your enterprise has articulated goals and big dreams. Let Datavail’s data integration experts help it achieve both.

To learn more regarding data integration modernization, download our white paper, “Look Ahead: Migrate from SSRS to Power BI.”

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