A Treasure Map for Integration's Business Value

Loraine Lawson
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Strategic Integration: 10 Business-Building Tips

Ten ways that companies can use integration and integration-related strategies to build business.

At least once a week, on this very blog, I make the case for how data integration contributes to business value. But how do you make that same case within your own organization, particularly to those who might be less, ahem, enlightened about what data integration does for data?


TDWI recently updated its free best practices report, "What Works in Data Integration." The report includes a number of articles about data integration and related topics such as data governance, management and warehouses. One of the best articles is "10 Ways Data Integration Provides Business Value," by TDWI Research Director Philip Russom.

It's described as a checklist, but I would call it more of a treasure map, since many of the items are less about how to create value and more about finding where DI may have already created it. For instance, item number two reads, "The Visibility of Data Integration's Business Value Varies." That doesn't really describe how to use DI tools to create value, but in the description Russom gives a number of examples where DI may be helping to solve business problems:

Recognizing the business value of data integration when you see it is harder than you might think, because a DI solution is typically separated a degree or two from the applications and integrated data that business users see. In general, however, DI's business value is readily visible as valuable data.

The article also provides clues about how to make data integration more strategic. Item number four reminds us that "collaborative practices focus data integration on business goals." Russom sees four recent trends as creating more collaboration between business strategy and IT's data integration work:

  1. The growth of data stewardship
  2. The adoption of data governance
  3. Collaborative data integration, which applies the team approach used by application developers to data integration initiatives
  4. Unified data management, which brings together practices such as data integration, MDM and business management


He also talks about how data integration supports business integration, data warehousing, a 360-degree view of customers and real time, among other things.


But my personal favorite is number five, "By Definition, Data Integration Adds Value to Data." Writes Russom:

A common misconception about data integration is that it merely moves data. However, all DI specialists know that you can't simply move data. You must also improve it. In fact, every good DI solution is a value adding process

That's true whether you're improving the data as you integrate it by eliminating data quality problems or "repurposing" data though integration and migration to a new system.


The big take away here is that data integration matters; it makes a difference. It's a lesson that's easy to forget, but it's certainly worth remembering, particularly if you're looking for ways to justify data-integration-related initiatives such as MDM (master data management), data governance or BI.


So if you're having problems justifying data integration as a strategic discipline, check out Russom's excellent article in this free TDWI report. (Free registration may be required to download this 30-page report.)

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