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3 ways to help business leaders become data integration champions

Data integration does not just concern IT. It's an essential business process.  

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It’s time we considered data integration as a central component of business strategy, not just as a technology tool.

Since the conception of middleware, business users have been more than happy to let IT handle the complex task of integrating enterprise data. Data has been the exclusive purview of IT, whereas business leaders have been more focused on outward-facing agendas.

Big data from sources such as mobile devices, sensors, cloud applications, and social networks is challenging that model. Data is highly fragmented across myriad internal and external systems. IT processes are mired down by manual processes, lengthy project cycles, and complex team interactions.

In today’s competitive world, the keys to product or service innovation and a customer-centric perspective lie in deriving insights quickly from the massive amounts of big data. The business requires real-time data to keep up with the rapid pace of business.

It’s time we considered data integration as a central component of business strategy, not just as a technology tool. It is a necessary process to extract value from big data. Although most business leaders recognize data as a key business differentiator, many do not understand their role. How do you make a seismic organizational shift to change that?

Start with these ways:

  1. Establish a business-IT partnership. Communicate with each other. Get business leaders engaged and show them the value of sharing ownership. Be patient and use language non-architects will understand. What does the data mean? Who can get maximum value from the data? Who should maintain it? Who should fix it? Who on the business side should play an ownership role?
  2. Create self-service data integration solutions. Self-service tools will not create chaos. Create a managed system that allows the business to make decisions while you maintain control over the processes themselves. Design for maximum reuse of templates, models, and tools as solutions are promoted from single user to departments or the enterprise.
  3. Implement a data integration center. By centralizing your integration systems, you can achieve clear accountability. It’s easier to maintain and to justify investments and upgrades, for example.

Try implementing these steps and sharing ownership of data integration across the enterprise. The data is waiting. Tools have evolved to include simple, intuitive user interfaces; automation; and insight into metadata. We can be more nimble, changing requirements and allocating resources as needed. But data is still stalled within IT silos. Changing perceptions and breaking the traditional approaches will be a win for your organization as a whole.

Read Perspectives, the Informatica blog, to learn more about the cost of opportunities lost because of the lack of a solid data integration strategy involving both IT and the business.

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