Expert's Three Easy Steps for Integration Business Case

Loraine Lawson
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7 Steps to Smarter Integration

Sometimes, change can be worthwhile. The key is knowing what's worth pursuing and what's not.

More IT shops are moving away from hand coding to embrace data integration tools. But these tools aren't cheap, so IT leaders need to be able to build a business case that justifies the investment.


The trick is that word, "business." If you're an IT person, data integration solutions just look like a necessity - sort of like bridges. If you want to connect places, you build bridges; if you want to connect data, you need integration.


Alas, that may not cut it with the business. So, IT leaders have to learn how to build a business case that focuses on the business needs - not the technology.


David Linthicum, CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, is a veteran of integration work, with a focus on SOA and cloud computing. In a recent post on Pervasive Software's blog, Linthicum shared three easy steps for defining data integration's business case:


  1. Define the existing pain - which he says is usually pretty easy to spot: Just look for the double data entry, data quality and lack of data visibility in critical business systems. Since these problems can run in the millions, it's not hard to see find the cost savings.
  2. Define the target. This is all about having access to the data in a timely manner. Zero latency would be nice, he writes, but it's not always practical, so you'll have to pick a target between zero and the big, fat, long time span caused by hand-coding or out-of-date solutions.
  3. Create the numbers, or figure out what the cost savings or revenue potential is between where you are now and where you'll be with better data integration - and then tie that to the tool.


For the first two steps, he suggests you evaluate the tactical issues and the more strategic issues.


Linthicum packs a lot of information in this short post, providing tips about how to prioritize and organize your projects and business case.


One additional thing you might want to keep in mind when you're trying to translate data integration into a business case: Too often, people assume integration is just about moving data. But that seriously undersells the value of data integration.


"A common misconception about data integration is that it merely moves data. However, all DI specialists know that you can't simply move data," TDWI Research Director Philip Russom points out in "10 Ways Data Integration Provides Business Value." "You must also improve it. In fact, every good DI solution is a value adding process "


Alas, this isn't something your business leaders will readily understand, but with a bit of thought and digging, it is something you can make clear.

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