The Importance of Data Integration and Thinking Strategically: Blog 4 of 5
The general concept of data integration is the movement of data between applications, systems, and/or external applications and/or trading partners. In the previous articles in this series, we’ve already covered the five different approaches to data integration, the two processing solutions, and the various misconceptions around data validation.
There’s been a recurring theme throughout these previous articles, and if you’ve been keeping up, you know that it’s:
The importance of having a clearly defined strategy before adopting and implementing a data integration solution.
Well, if you didn’t catch it before, that’s okay because this article is all about emphasizing the importance of having a strategic data integration solution. Determining a strategy before adopting a data integration solution is imperative, as a good percentage of data integration challenges post-implementation actually occur due to an inadequate strategy way before any integration decisions were actually made.
This article highlights key aspects of data integration including improving business operations, increasing data value and keeping up with today’s competition. We’ll also dive into the concept of viewing data integration as a strategic investment towards digital transformation. Keep reading to get the inside scoop on how to strategically investment in your own business with the right data integration solution!
The Importance of Data Integration
Data can be one of the most valuable assets to your business, but if it’s locked up in individual applications and doesn’t flow throughout the organization, no amount of data will be useful.
First understanding the importance and value data integration offers to your business is one of the most important steps you can take. Having a clear understanding of data integration and applying it in the right form and structure for your business’ needs correctly can allow you to drive incredible growth. After all, as your business grows the amount of data your business has and can potentially leverage to your advantage increases exponentially. For scaling businesses, the emphasis is clearly on the need for an agile and scalable data integration approach like VL OMNI’s iPaaS solution.
Here are some of the key perks of top-tier data integration services and platforms like VL OMNI’s that I’ve noticed:
The 3 I’s
Ultimately, the goal of strategic data integration is improvement. Improving customer experience, operations, productivity—everything! You may be wondering “will adopting a data integration strategy grow my business?”
In short,yes!—But remember that a data integration solution without strategy doesn’t promote long-term growth.
But let me explain. As previously discussed, there are several approaches to data integration. The approach you adopt has to fit your unique business needs and most importantly involve a clear strategy and approach. Think of finding the right (strategic) data integration solution as a hunt to put more dollars back into your business while continuing to grow it. Once your solution is implemented and you’re running a fully integrated and automated ecommerce or multichannel business, you’re in for a ride with the benefits you’ll begin to see:
- Improve Customer Experience: A complete data integration strategy allows you to have real-time access to your customers’ information, distribute it out to all other applications that require it, ultimately improving on your business’ ability to deliver a consistently excellent customer experience across all touchpoints.
- Increase Productivity: Productivity is enhanced when there is an elimination of manual data entry—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Your team can focus on growing your business rather than manning a keyboard. Adopting an automated data integration solution provides you with a single view of crucial data allowing you and your team to be more productive.
- Improve Operations and Business Intelligence: Whether you’re in the supply chain, manufacturing, or product management business, having real-time access to your data improves your operations. By giving you the most important thing—visibility across your business. Having visibility improves processes, productivity, and much more while lowering expenditures.
The Unified Technology System
We’ve discussed that data integration does not alter, change or fix data, but it can transform it depending on the solution you adopt. Transforming data is one of the many aspects that sets VL OMNI apart from others, as data integration in general doesn’t apply business rules as a standard feature. But VL OMNI transforms your data by applying business rules directly to the data as it moves between applications. Data integration improves the value of your data by creating a unified system where the data is pooled together from disparate sources.
- Solves Data Silos: On average, most businesses use about thirteen different applications to perform business operations. This means crucial data is scattered among these disparate applications, hindering you to have full visibility of your data. There can be disastrous consequences if business decisions are made based on a lack of visibility causing you to lose valuable customers to competitors.
- Reduces Data Complexities: Data integration allows you to manage the complexities associated with the numerous application in your organization. It also allows you to streamline Connections meanwhile facilitating the delivery of data to various systems. The best data integration platforms include a strategic arrangement of your applications, technologies, and trading partners so that you’re always able to respond to market changes quickly, whether it’s adding a new channel or duplicating a workflow. (And you guessed it—VL OMNI’s platform does this!).
- Readily Available Data: Let’s bring the conversation back to the issue of visibility: when data is clustered in disparate sources, it makes it nearly impossible to have access to it. Using a strategic data integration approach centralizes your data allowing you and your team to access, analyze and/or retrieve your data in real time.
In the present economy, expectations are rising every day. Customers want and expect top-of–the-line service, and this is powered by the technology your business chooses. An iPaaS data integration approach like VL OMNI’s enabled agile and robust business practices, allowing you to stay ahead of your competition.
- Compliance with today’s and tomorrow’s rules: Privacy regulations are becoming more complex and more strict. The result: you need to be able to know what data has been sent and received. EU-GDPR-compliant VL OMNI is trusted by top multi-channel businesses to accelerate their growth for the long-term while ensuring compliance and data security. VL OMNI takes security extremely seriously which is why we became GDPR compliant way before it became regulated.
- Real-Time Information Delivery: In today’s competitive world, providing real-time information is no longer nice to have but rather a customer expectation as data speed and how you use it translates into the experience you engender with your audience. Having an integrated solution allows you to keep your information up-to-date. Having a cloud solution like VL OMNI gives you access to your data in real-time from anywhere in the world.
Why Should You View Data Integration As a Strategic Investment?
The Short answer: Because data integration IS a strategic investment towards digital transformation. Data integration is not a cheap quick fix; it involves adopting a strategy and approach to ensure the solution is tailored to your needs. It’s not a Band-Aid fixing a symptom, rather it’s bolstering your business with the right tools to head into the future with.
Negative impacts of poor approaches to data integration can have severe impacts on business outcomes including revenue loss, loss of valued customers to competitors and optimization challenges. Overall, an undersized or inadequate data integration solution can result in affecting business outcomes and are a result of a lack of an integration strategy.
As expectations are rapidly increasing, businesses are turning to integration technologies to have a deeper impact on business operations and improve customer experience. When a data integration solution is well-designed along with a strategy, it will optimize business operations. An investment in strategic data integration efforts is an investment towards scalability, valuable data, security, and much more!
- Scalability: One key aspect to consider in creating a data integration strategy is your scalability. When you have a growing business, your agility determines how quickly you can adjust to market changes. For example, when receiving multiple orders a day from several different multichannel systems, you need an agile and flexible solution like VL OMNI to help you keep up with your growth rather than hinder you. As your company begins to grow, updating orders manually becomes impossible and extremely prone to human errors.
- Data Formatting: I recently learned that not all data is formatted the same way, meaning that when information is pulled from a source it may not be accepted in its original format. But, that is the beauty of having an agile solution like VL OMNI that transforms your data in one single workflow to fit your business rules. So, part of the workflow of moving data also involves automatically transforming it to a single format in order to create a unified model.
- Security: VL OMNI takes great value in the security of our customers’ data. As such, all your customer data is stored in an encrypted database using a public or private key pair depending on your business needs. Meaning, all your customer data like files processes, REST requests sent, etc, is backed up on S3. We also back up all of our configuration records so we can easily restore any AWS resource or configuration record, making our platform more robust. Not only are we ensuring your valuable data is secure but also reliable.
The ultimate goal of a great data integration implementation is to promote agility, scalability, business intelligence and visibility, all of which implicitly or directly goes towards building and improving on customer experience.
But it’s not enough to simply download any integration and hit ‘go’ as a means to adopting a data integration solution: you need to have a strategy and approach in place before approaching specific solutions or partners. A recent study conducted by Forrester outlined that the majority of data integration challenges occur due to inadequate integration strategy; we’re not just making this stuff up, we’ve seen it first-hand over the 25-year lifespan of VL OMNI! A strategic data integration solution is an investment towards the long-term growth of your business: a solution like VL OMNI that is agile to change, scalable, and elastic, allowing you to grow beyond what you thought was possible.