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Less is More: The Benefits of Streamlining Your Data Integration Workflow

Author: Tobin Thankachen | | September 8, 2022


 

As organizations accumulate more and more data, the software and services they use to manage this data are also expanding. According to Statista, in 2021 companies used an average of 110 software as a service (SaaS) applications in their IT environment, which is a sevenfold increase from just 16 applications in 2017.

 
Big data presents challenges in terms of volume, velocity, and variety—but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer from a bloated IT ecosystem to address these challenges. In fact, many businesses can realize significant advantages from streamlining their data integration pipelines, trimming away unnecessary tools and services. Below, we’ll discuss how and why you should rethink your data integration workflow.

Picking the Right Data Integration Tool

One of the biggest difficulties of data integration is knowing how best to combine all the information at your fingertips. The sources in your data integration pipeline may include a wide variety of files, databases, websites, and applications—both internal and external.

According to an IDG survey, companies now use an average of more than 400 different data sources for their business intelligence and analytics processes. What’s more, 20 percent of these companies are using 1,000 or more sources, far too many to be properly managed by human data engineers.

To handle this spiraling complexity, organizations need to choose the best data integration tool for the job. Modern data integration and ETL (extract, transform, load) solutions come packed with dozens or even hundreds of pre-built connectors and integrations for the most popular data sources. This makes it easy for users to adapt the tool to their current workflow—instead of the other way around.

One of Datavail’s recent clients, an education nonprofit, faced this issue when looking to improve its existing data integration processes. The client was pulling information from a wide range of sources: CRM and ERP applications, financial planning and forecasting software, analytics tools, and more. To handle these sources, the client was using multiple ETL tools—including Fivetran, Matillion, and custom Python scripts—at the cost of higher IT expenses and complexity.

By working with Datavail, the client formulated an actionable set of recommendations to simplify its IT environment. Datavail suggested that the client focus on Fivetran while also adopting a new tool, AWS Glue, which was better suited for its needs.

When searching for your own data integration tool, consider factors such as:

  • Connectors: Your choice of data integration platform should fit seamlessly into your existing workflow. Look for integration tools that have the connectors you need to extract from your data sources—both current and future ones.
  • Learning curve: Data integration platforms can democratize the integration process, enabling even non-technical business users to participate. For example, many tools offer a no-code, visual drag-and-drop interface, removing the need for in-depth knowledge of programming or data engineering.
  • Pricing: Different platforms have pricing models that are suitable for different types of organizations. Some tools charge based on the amount of data you consume, while others charge according to the number of connectors you use.

The Benefits of a Data Integration Platform

Regardless of which tool you go with, there are a number of advantages of using a dedicated platform for data integration. These include:

  • Simplified integration architecture: Without a data integration platform, your workflow can quickly devolve into a tangled, disconnected mess. Data integration tools serve as a single centralized hub that can handle all your integration needs under one roof.
  • Ease of use: Many data integration solutions come with dozens of pre-built connectors, letting even non-technical users define robust, production-ready data pipelines. Look for integration software with extra features such as change data capture (CDC), which automatically detects which records have changed since your last integration job—saving valuable time and manual effort.
  • Reduced maintenance obligations: When you choose a third-party data integration platform, the integration provider is responsible for support and maintenance—not your in-house IT team. This means that you can focus less on the mechanics of data integration and more on benefiting from the results: cutting-edge, data-driven insights.
  • Support for modern technologies: The right data integration platform will be able to capture data across cloud, on-premises, and hybrid IT environments. Many integration tools can also support alternate sources such as streaming data and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Conclusion

Without a careful eye on your business processes, it’s all too easy for your data integration workflow to grow out of control, becoming more expensive and complicated than you need. The best way to handle this issue is by choosing the right data integration tool for the job, consolidating your various pipelines and connectors within a single powerful platform

Want to learn more about how Datavail can help streamline and optimize your data integration workflow? Read our case study “Training and Education Organization Learns How to Get More from their Snowflake Data Warehouse Analytics Environment,” which discusses our recent work with a nonprofit client in the education industry. Datavail provided the client with a comprehensive IT assessment, including recommendations for making the client’s data integration processes simpler and more scalable by switching to different ETL solutions.

Here at Datavail, we specialize in helping companies get the most from their enterprise data. We offer an end-to-end suite of consulting services for your business intelligence and analytics needs, including:

  • Health checks and assessments
  • Strategic planning and road mapping
  • Data integration and warehousing
  • Application development and modernization
  • DevOps consulting and managed services
  • Quality assurance (QA) and testing services
  • Performance monitoring, tuning, and optimization
  • Long-term support and maintenance

 
For a chat about how Datavail can align with your business needs and objectives, get in touch with our team of data experts today.

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