Integration isn’t exactly a headline grabber like, say, IT security. You’re just not going to hear about an ETL process that didn’t run, causing worldwide panic or costing customers millions of dollars.
No, integration is more of a quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of issue that nonetheless, can cost companies huge chunks of money and time.
So what were the big integration stories of 2012? Here are my picks for the leading trends and issues from the past year:
Hadoop Connectors. Getting information into a Hadoop store is no big deal, but accessing those stores and making that data useful with other, existing systems — that’s a bit harder. Nobody wanted to be left behind on Big Data, or worse possibly replaced, so every month of the past year, we heard about a BI, analytics or data management vendor rolling out a connector for Hadoop.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to separate out what these tools offer, particularly when you add the marketing lingo that makes it sound like the vendor is rolling out the answer to all-things Hadoop. But despite the hype on one hand and the limitations on the other, Hadoop connectors and tools will play a key role in helping companies adopt Big Data.
MDM in the Cloud. Gartner analyst Andrew White is pretty quick to warn that MDM in the cloud is still very immature. In fact, Informatica’s cloud MDM solution is so targeted for Salesforce.com prospect data, it probably shouldn’t even be called MDM, White said. Orchestra Network’s cloud-based MDM solution has only been used by a few companies for proof-of-concepts, he added.
So while we don’t have cloud MDM in anything that constitutes a tried-and-true mature solution, what we do have is a great way to explore MDM without a hefty investment. Considering how expensive MDM solutions can be, that’s great news for companies that might otherwise avoid even trying to manage master data.
The Data-Driven Enterprise. This year saw a major shift in how executives view data. More CEOs and CFOs say they want to make business decisions based on data, not their guts. That’s a huge change over the past, when leaders were hired and fired based on their “business sense.” Now, companies want leaders who can lead based on decisions grounded in data.
A side effect of this trend is that executives are beginning to appreciate the need for integration and an enterprise-wide information management strategy. That’s translating into real funds for data integration and data management projects — and the CIO doesn’t even have to beg.
Another added bonus: There’s also a new focus on related data disciplines, such as governance and data quality.
Integration as a Strategic Weapon. The growing importance of integration for information management is a double-edged sword, it seems. Recently, experts have predicted that as enterprise application vendors move their product to the cloud, we’ll see integration replace the license as a way to keep customers. Indeed, Web 2.0 companies such as Twitter and Facebook are already using integration as a weapon to lock out competitors.