Integration Central to Winning Innovation Projects

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

Strategic Integration: 10 Business-Building Tips

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

Three of the winning projects from this year's Information Management 2011 Innovative Solution Awards involved extensive integration work, demonstrating once again that, yeah, verily, integration is a strategic issue for companies.


Information Management Editorial Director Jim Ericson and his editorial team chose five projects based on their creative use of new technologies or adaptation of existing technologies in a new way. The winners also had to provide "quantifiable business value."


All of the projects involved some level of integration - we're dealing with data, after all - but three of the projects resolved major integration challenges for the organizations involved.


First, the obvious one: The Nevada-based Station Casinos won in the Data Integration category, using Informatica's platform to pull data from 500 heterogeneous legacy silos. The project helped put everyone on the same page when it came to understanding customers, gaming and financial metrics, according to Information Management's article on the winning entries.


The solution allows the business to connect information like a customer's favorite wine with promotions on a particular gaming machine or real-time promotions for a dinner special where the customer typically dines.


The results were impressive: Station Casinos saw its loyalty card customer records quadruple, while new member acquisition for hotels and resorts grew by 160 percent in the first year. Slot revenue grew by four percent from related loyalty promotions, while the slot promotions budget actually was reduced by $1 million per month. Hotel and resort retention jumped 14 percent in four months.


"This is a powerful solution, incorporating data integration and data quality to yield an enterprise-wide information supply chain," Information Management Editor-in-Chief Julie Langenkamp said of the project.


The project also included a Teradata data warehouse and reporting tools from Cognos.


A less obvious integration-centered project was the State of Michigan, which won the BI award for using Teradata's solution to connect 474 data sets and 18,000 tables in the state's data warehouse environment.


What's interesting about this particular project is that it continues to reap unforeseen benefits - what the state's data director calls "compound interest" - because it allows state employees to put the data to unprecedented uses.


For instance, the Department of Health and Human Services can now tap into school and health agency data to place a child in foster care, even in the middle of the night.


The state estimates it's creating $1 million per business day in financial benefits via fraud detection, operational efficiencies and cost and sanction avoidance, according to the report.


The project means 10,000 state government users can now access reports and analytics and offer information for statewide use at no incremental cost. The state's data director compared this sharing of data enabled by the project to compound interest.


And let's not forget the really hard part: Somehow, this project managed to overcome the siloed mentality of state departments and agencies.


Finally, Microfinance Information Exchange, Inc., won in the "other" category for its use of Pervasive Software's tools to simplify the company's complex data integration process, which involved cloud solutions and foreign exchange rate feeds. Previously, the company relied on a 24-hour batch updates process, but Pervasive's solution moved the data updates to automated loads in intervals that can be as short as 30 minutes.


Ericson called the project "an impressive implementation, with cloud-based integration for bi-directional transfer of data with real-time activity monitoring."

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