When it comes to enterprise information integration (EII), you're better off buying than building, according to a recent Aberdeen Group report. The report also shows that organizational maturity is at least as important to EII success as technology.
"Enterprise Information Integration: The Foundation for Business Success and Transformation" summarizes an Aberdeen survey of 146 end-user companies. The research firm examined what distinguishes best-in-class companies from the industry average and technology laggards.
You might be surprised at the results. Best-in-class companies don't build, they buy, typically turning to a commercial XML-based middleware for EII, coupled with off-the-shelf adapters. This approach saves companies time, money and sets a better technology foundation for other business-critical tasks, such as business intelligence, master data management and -- gasp -- service-oriented architectures. The report states:
"Using a standards-based data access layer allows for better reuse of common access components, an EII approach in use by 26 percent of Best-in-Class companies, compared with only 9 percent of all others. Such reuse helps drive down application development time and cost and increases application quality."
This use of middleware works better than consolidating databases, which was the preferred approach for the industry average and laggard group. But it does create other problems, as the report explains in a blue box on page 11.
I'm not completely surprised that best-in-class choose to buy a solution rather than build. Regular readers may recall I wrote about the economics of hand-coding your own data integration solution versus buying a pre-built solution in January after interviewing Philip Russom of The Data Warehousing Institute.
Best-in-class also use extract/transform/load engines at a higher rate than other groups. The report explains why this gives them an edge when it comes to real-time services and data operations.
But it's not just about technology. The report notes that best-in-class companies are twice as likely as their corporate peers to use cross-organizational teams to manage integration projects. In general, best-in-class companies had more mature organizational practices such as bringing together stakeholders and using established enterprise data strategies to measure the project's business value.
Minus its appendixes, the report is 21 pages long and includes a list of recommendations for companies at each level -- best-in-class, average and laggard. If you're really short on time, you can review what's basically a synopsis of EII best practices by skimming Table 3, "The Competitive Framework," on page 13.
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