Strategic Integration: Business Building Tips from 2008, Part III


In two posts on Wednesday, I shared how companies used integration and integration-related strategies to build business in 2008.

Today, I'd like to focus more on how you can build your own, unique business-building integration strategies in 2009 - with examples from 2008, naturally.

Ask the right questions to find the business pay-off. One way to make sure you're helping the business is to ask the right questions. Mark Denchy, director of product management at data-integration company EXTOL International, offered this list of questions in an August DM Review article to help you justify the cost of an integration project-but you could just as easily use these questions to pinpoint how you can better serve the business:

  • Are orders being held up?
  • When will my order be shipped?
  • What demand can we expect from our product?
  • Are there any unusual spikes or dips in sales volume?
  • Where is my order?
  • When will more product be available?
  • What's going on (financially)?

Explore New Technology Solutions. This is always the tricky one, isn't? Sometimes, these initiatives sound very complex. For instance, in January, I shared how the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) allowed homeowners to control their energy spending using smart devices and alerts about energy uses. The technology involved used devices, but also a service-oriented architecture. During the two-year trial, participants who could respond to real-time prices reduced peak power use by 15 percent.


On a smaller scale, why not explore the business-building potential of mashups? Mashups show promise as a on-the-fly data-integration tool. Users want them, and, with a little work, mashups can be enterprise-friendly.


Innovate with Existing Tools. I continue to be amazed at how one company can take a common approach and use it in a very strategic, business-enabling way. A good example is this ETL deployment by IPS-Sendero, a software-development company and professional services company that focuses on corporate performance management. The director of technology architecture and information security officer at IPS- Sendero, Stephen Inocencio, didn't use the tool in your typical way. He embedded it as part of the company's core solution, using it at client sites to deploy IPS-Sendero's solution faster. Before this project, it would take the tech-services firm anywhere from two weeks to three months to bring a new client's data on board. The strategic use of Pervasive's ETL tool reduced that time to about 18 minutes.


The key seems to be looking at the strategic, rather than tactical, level-an approach that can even pay off with data integration, according to Marcia Kaufman, a partner at the research and consulting firm Hurwitz & Associates.


That's the end of my list. Be sure to share your success with IT Business Edge in the new year!