Data Integration Remains a Major IT Headache
Study shows that data integration is still costly and requires a lot of manual coding.
Sam Collier, CTO of the online school Ultimate Medical Academy, seemed a bit confused when I asked him about the business case for an integration project.
It was, he explained, something that just had to be done. Blackboard, a cloud-based software used to run the school's online courses, had data they needed in an Oracle database. They used Microsoft SQL server. Pervasive's Data Integrator ETL tool fit the bill.
"One of the important things that we need to do is be able to get participation data for our students in the programs that they're enrolled in," Collier said. "That online learning management system participation data is critical for us to be able to ensure that we're giving our students all the necessary support to help them get through the programs and to measure and monitor their progress."
The tech press and analysts talk a lot about CIOs and strategic thinking, but the fact is, what most CIOs do - and what companies need them to do - is ensure the day-to-day operations run smoothly. Oh, sure, at some really large organizations, that role may fall to someone else, but by-and-large, CIOs do what they have to do to keep the business running.
At one time, that just meant making sure servers and PCs were up and running, but these days, that also includes making sure the corporate data is excellent, says Perry Rotella in a recent Forbes column.
Rotella is senior vice president and chief information officer of Verisk Analytics, a research firm that provides various industries with risk information.
His basic argument: Data, as the "new oil," is now an operational imperative for CIOs.
Specifically, he says, that means CIOs have to take certain steps to effectively manage this asset on a day-to-day basis. Step number one? Integrate data as an enterprise asset, he said, by managing the metadata and establishing taxonomies.
He also says CIOs must give higher priority to:
In talking about his problem, Collier said they didn't have the time, staff, money or inclination to learn Oracle just so they could use Blackboard's database. What they needed was the data, so that's where they focused their efforts.
Integration made that possible, and that's why in this age of data as oil, it's a tactical issue with strategic potential.