In today’s digital world of technology and smart, data-driven business decisions, information integration is essential. For many, many years, we’ve lived and worked in a world where technology has enabled organizations to collect and analyze vast amounts of data. Customer data, transactional data, data from CRM systems, ERP systems, on-premise systems, off-premise systems, the cloud, apps, email systems, voice, text, video, Internet of Things – you name it – from the very first moment an organization started collecting data, that data has been mounting up (and up and up). However, quantity isn’t everything – and the fact is that this data won’t usually have been collected in one centralized location. Rather, it exists in separate, departmental containers which are siloed, isolated, and serve only the individual business needs of individual departments.
When data is siloed like this, its potential can never be fully unleashed to the benefit of the business as a whole – even if those separate piles provide meaningful and actionable business intelligence to the separate (i.e. isolated) departments they belong to. Think about marketing, for example. A marketing team may use data to better understand the success (or failure) of a particular campaign, determine the types or quantity of content they’ll need in the future, or gain a clearer view of the buyer’s journey. But that data isn’t only useful to marketing. Sales, for instance, could make great use of that same data to improve its own operations – from making better pricing decisions to improving strategies for increasing conversion rates, revenue, and customer lifetime value.
This, of course, is just one example – there are countless others like it. As such, in more recent times, the name of the game has been to move beyond siloed data collection and analysis and head towards meaningful data and information integration – i.e. bringing data from different sources together into a single, unified view. In fact, information integration has become the flagship of many IT projects run by various organizations around the world over recent years. As companies have realized the need to improve data accessibility to enhance cross-departmental teamwork and collaboration, so too have they realized the need for information integration – and technology is key to making it happen.
As Keith Moore, CEO of insurance price comparison site CoverHound, puts it, “Every person in the company should be the most informed person in the company.” To make this a reality, CoverHound relies on an information integration system to aggregate hundreds of reports pulled from multiple sources in real time each day. As a result, this cross-functional accessibility to data enables CoverHound to become more predictive and responsive, regardless of the data source or type.
The Problem with Data Silos
And it’s not just insurance companies that stand to benefit from information integration. In fact, it’s the same story no matter the industry. A recent article in Trend Micro reveals that the average medium- to large-size organization uses anywhere between 300 and 500 applications. Without information integration strategies and tools in place, the data these applications generate remains scattered amongst the disparate and disconnected systems. This results in poor communication between departments, people, systems and processes, leading to an inability to meet both customers’ needs and business goals. What’s more, when data exists in silos, important decisions are based on incomplete or misinformation, which can have sub-optimal if not disastrous business consequences.
Information integration allows businesses to amalgamate data from different sources to provide users with a single, real-time view of business processes and performance. As such, information integration is the first step toward transforming data into meaningful, actionable and valuable business insights.
Yet, according to Experian, 66% of companies lack a centralized approach to data – and data silos are reported as being one of the most common issues. The research reveals that, in many current approaches, business data from these different silos is sequenced through many different platforms, from data lakes to data warehouses – a process which can be time consuming and expensive. In addition, the research found that data engineers spend about 60%-70% of their time simply prepping and bringing data together.
The problem here is that as data is being transferred through the different platforms, it can often be prone to errors, and can sometimes take many hours to arrive at its final destination in this erroneous state. When such failures exist, corrupt data ends up feeding through into analytics applications, which results in bad decision making.
The Benefits of Information Integration
Remaining competitive means finding ways to not only aggregate data, but to do so in an efficient, error-free way that enables organizations to unlock the full extent of the data’s value.
But what precisely is the value that can be unlocked through robust, technology-enabled information integration? Let’s consider some of the key benefits:
- Improved Customer Experience – When data is siloed, it prevents organizations from forming a complete view of customers, which can impact marketing functions, sales, and ultimately revenue. Only when organizations have access to real-time customer information can customers be targeted with the right message at the right time on the right channel. Information integration tools give organizations the real-time, 360-degree view of the customer they need, enabling them to improve customer experience, loyalty, and increase revenue.
- Increased Productivity – Even when organizations are collecting and analyzing data, if they have to constantly move between many different systems to garner insight, productivity is naturally – and significantly – reduced. When a technology-enabled information integration strategy is enabled, on the other hand, the organization’s data from all its different sources is pooled together into a single view, allowing productivity to be improved.
- Streamlined Processes and Operations – Be it product management, manufacturing, supply chains or procurement, enabling company-wide real-time access to key information improves processes, increases production, and lowers costs across departments, including sales, production, distribution, and more.
- Improved Decision Making – Information integration technologies present real-time data in an easy-to-digest format, often via customizable data dashboards. This helps departments become more proactive, uncover opportunities for process improvements, identify problems before they occur, and run with up-to-the-minute information to make fast, high-quality decisions.
- Better Business Intelligence – Information integration technologies supply the business intelligence tools an organization is already using with the data streams teams need to make strategic decisions, and uncover inefficiencies, gaps in processes, and missed revenue opportunities. In addition, having the ability to combine historical data with current sales pipeline information enables organizations to make informed forecasts and anticipate customer demands.
How Much Data Should Organizations Connect?
The benefits of information integration are many and clear – but where should companies start, and are there any pitfalls to be aware of before beginning on an information integration journey?
Well, the short answer is yes. The more data sources a company has – and for most modern organizations going through digital transformation, that number is growing all the time – the harder it is to determine which of it is the most important.
Improving access to data – a key goal of an information integration strategy – is undoubtedly a good thing, as it leads to better business decisions and all the other benefits outlined above. However, when data from all departments across the whole organization is brought together, the potential exists for overwhelming various members of the workforce with information that may not be relevant to their specific jobs or business goals. In many cases, improving access to data across departments – such as between marketing sales – will result in better business outcomes. But that’s not to say that this is always the case. In some situations, bad decisions can end up being made based on too much data – and indeed, bombarding employees with too much data also runs the risk of them tuning out altogether. As such, data must not only be put into context, it must also be customized for individual lines of business, and made available only to the right people at the right time.
And there’s another question hanging over organizations about to embark on an information integration journey – What data should be connected?
To answer this question, organizations need to have a plan in place. They need to assess their information integration needs, determine what data sources they have, and what systems they reside in – on-premise, cloud, hybrid environments, etc. Just because an organization decides it can connect everything, doesn’t mean it should – or at least not all at once.
Much like digital transformation, information integration is a journey – and every journey has to start somewhere. Complete integration of all data may be an organization’s ultimate goal, but it’s important to prioritize what gets integrated first on the road to achieving it.
Information Integration Technology
Integration platform provider Actian recommends beginning with a foundation of what it calls “core data”. Every company, Actian says, has a core set of master data that is used throughout the organization. Customer records, product records, and employee records are all great examples of master data that companies use in many different places throughout the organization. In addition to these, there is usually a number of core transactional platforms – such as sales, customer service, manufacturing, and finance systems – which are critical to operational decision making.
Actian says that focusing on master data and core platforms is a great first step towards building a foundation of connected data to support digital business processes. And with this first step completed, one of the most important goals of information integration can be achieved – gaining a 360-degree view of the customer.
“A true 360-degree view of your customers can’t be sourced from a single system, it must be aggregated from many different sources,” writes Actian. “Traditional CRM and data warehouse systems just couldn’t handle all the data sources available, and developing a complex set of integrations was both costly and time consuming.”
To combat these issues, what’s required is an information integration solution that collects and aggregates data in one place, and provides the tools necessary to convert raw data into actionable insights. Such platforms enable organizations to develop a more complete and accurate profile of their customers, including insights into purchasing habits and preferences. They do so by mining all available sources of data in any format – structured or unstructured – from any location, and on any channel.
Information integration platforms like Actian DataConnect combine data from things like sales transactions, mobile apps, and websites with public information about customers found online in places such as social media posts and product reviews. Integrating all this information on a single platform enables organizations to better understand their customers, and better target their marketing efforts in accordance with individual customers’ unique needs. It also enables organizations to garner better business intelligence – such as assessing what causes customer churn – and identify the best methods to personalize the whole customer experience.
Moving beyond marketing and sales benefits, a robust information integration platform will also be a boon to the broader organization’s operations and processes. A good system like Actian DataConnect has the ability to integrate data from components built on different technologies. For example, if an organization’s manufacturing system is already connected, data from logistics-related IoT devices can be integrated to provide visibility into the end-to-end supply chain. In addition, third-party systems – such as those belonging to cloud service providers, facilities services, and transportation companies – can also be connected to the information integration platform, allowing organizations to view what’s happening throughout the larger business ecosystem, regardless of who’s actually doing the work.
Machine Learning and AI
Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, of course, are also driving demand for real-time information integration and harmonization. Those operating in the legal industry, for instance, where details from multiple sources are used in evidence-based situations, need to be able to form a full picture of an incident or charge. Without a robust information integration strategy – and the necessary technology to power it – law firms struggle to record, document and pull all the evidence together into one complete picture.
Digital media capture company VIQ Solutions has developed a solution for firms operating in the legal sector (amongst others, including government, healthcare and insurance) in which digital recording technology is deployed to capture and preserve a court’s record verbatim. All records are then transcribed using VIQ Solutions’ AI-powered cloud-based speech recognition software and stored in a database. Firms can then access and manage the entire history of a case file from a centralized and searchable location with a user-friendly interface. What’s more, this interface can also be used to collaborate with authorized third parties, ultimately saving enterprises time, resources and money by eliminating the need to update, store, and manually search through huge audio and video records.
Today, the majority of organizations rely on large numbers of systems and applications which reside across cloud, on-premise, and hybrid platforms. While these systems remain disjointed, so too does the data that resides within them, stunting an organization’s ability to unlock the key insights the data contains.
Information integration technology solutions are designed to gather both structured and unstructured data in one place. By consolidating data in a centralized repository, separate teams across the organization are able to not only improve performance measurement, but also gain deeper business and process insights, achieve a 360-degree view of customers, and make more informed decisions to support organizational objectives.
However, information integration is a process – a journey that takes a lot of strategizing to complete. It’s something that will evolve over time, and may include a number of different approaches to bring together disparate data sources into one unified view. As such, the important thing to remember as you begin your information integration journey is to prioritize which data your organization would most benefit from integrating first, and start there. You will then need to select the right technology solution to aggregate that data in one place, ensuring it has the tools to convert that raw data into actionable insights. Once you have these elements in place, you will be able to break down your data silos, gain a clearer 40,000-foot view of your customers and processes, and start generating the insights you need to improve business performance.
In today’s digital world of technology and smart, data-driven business decisions, information integration is essential. For many, many years, we’ve lived and worked in a world where technology has enabled organizations to collect and analyze vast amounts of data. Customer data, transactional data, data from CRM systems, ERP systems, on-premise systems, off-premise systems, the cloud, apps, email systems, voice, text, video, Internet of Things – you name it – from the very first moment an organization started collecting data, that data has been mounting up (and up and up). However, quantity isn’t everything – and the fact is that this data won’t usually have been collected in one centralized location. Rather, it exists in separate, departmental containers which are siloed, isolated, and serve only the individual business needs of individual departments. As Keith Moore, CEO of insurance price comparison site CoverHound, puts it, “Every person in the company should be the most informed person in the company.”
IT integration, or systems integration, is the connection of data, applications, APIs, and devices across your IT organization to be more efficient, productive, and agile.What is the importance of technology integration? ›
Technology empowers teachers to develop creative and interactive classrooms and gives them access to innovative resources. Effective educators understand the benefits of integrating technology in the classroom and finding new ways to make lessons meaningful.What is the role of information technology? ›
Information technology is building communications networks for a company, safeguarding data and information, creating and administering databases, helping employees troubleshoot problems with their computers or mobile devices, or doing a range of other work to ensure the efficiency and security of business information ...What are the benefits of information integration? ›
Benefits of Data Integration
When systems are equipped with real-time, integrated data, they can elevate their performance across the board. Not only will collecting data and converting it into its final, usable format take far less time and allows for actionable insights, agility, and real-time intelligence.
Information integration efforts actually improve the value of a business' data over time. As data is integrated into a centralized system, quality issues are identified and necessary improvements are implemented, which ultimately results in more accurate data — the foundation for quality analysis.What are the benefits of integrating technology in learning? ›
Technology makes teaching easy!
Thanks to audio-visual presentations, your students will understand exactly how the knowledge is applied in practice. You can use projectors and computer presentations to deliver any type of lesson or instruction and improve the level of comprehension within the class.
What does technology integration really mean? Technology integration is the well-coordinated use of digital devices and cloud computing as tools for problem-solving, deeper learning, and understanding.What are the benefits of using technology? ›
- Social Connectivity.
- Communication Speeds.
- Versatile Working.
- Learning Opportunities.
- Information Storage.
- Contributes to revenue growth with necessary improvements in business processes and products.
- Assists in generating new business within a short time due to the availability of accurate information.
- Provides timely and effective communication to customers to meet their demands.
Successful technology integration depends on equal access to reliable network and internet connections and fair opportunities to explore new resources. Equitable access is as much about bandwidth as it is about learning from trained staff who are up to date on the most promising technology trends.
Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally to an authentic audience.What are the 3 levels of technology integration? ›
- Entry Stage. Although educators, students and the community are aware that technology creates new possibilities for learning and teaching, the system is slow to change. ...
- Adaptation Stage. At this stage, technology becomes thoroughly integrated into teaching patterns. ...
- Transformation Stage.
In Maths, integration is a method of adding or summing up the parts to find the whole. It is a reverse process of differentiation, where we reduce the functions into parts. This method is used to find the summation under a vast scale.What is the main purpose of data integration? ›
Data integration is the process of bringing data from disparate sources together to provide users with a unified view. The premise of data integration is to make data more freely available and easier to consume and process by systems and users.What is one of the main advantages of integrated information networks? ›
Improved Pattern Recognition: An integrated system will allow you to aggregate and harmonize all of your data. This 360° view of your data allows researchers to see patterns you would never be able to see when only one or two datasets are available.What is the benefits and importance of system integration? ›
System integration eliminates the need for data storage and management. It provides a centralized system based on a scalable and secure architecture. The improved data collection and retrieval process, in conjunction with other benefits, enables your company to achieve operational and cost efficiencies.What are the effects of technology integration in education? ›
A very important technological impact on education is increased interactivity and class engagement. In addition, better overall comprehension, practical learning, time management, and combined learning methodologies are just some of the impacts that technology has had on student learning.What is the impact of information technology in our daily life? ›
With Information technology, communication between people has become cheaper, easier, and faster than ever before. Texting, video calling, and sending e-mails are so easy nowadays. There are so many apps available online to provide these services.What are the outcomes of integrating technology in the classroom? ›
Using technology in classrooms has the potential to create increased student motivation, increased social interactions, positive outcomes, enhanced student learning, and enhanced student engagement.What are the benefits of information technology in business? ›
- Productivity. Using Information Technology in business helps bring productivity to the business. ...
- Security. With the help of global connectivity, everything is now in the first of our hands. ...
- Communication. ...
- Online Recruitment. ...
- Access To Information. ...
- Better Decision-Making. ...
In this paper, the author proposes and defines six elements for integrating technology in culturally diverse classrooms: cultural awareness, cultural relevance, culturally supportive environment, equitable access, instructional flexibility, and instructional integration.What are the four stages of technology integration? ›
Stage 1: Pre-integration. Stage 2: Transition. Stage 3: Development. Stage 4: Expansion.What are the 5 stages of technology integration? ›
These characteristics are associated with five levels of technology integration: entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation.What is integration of information technology in business? ›
Technology integration is the process of aligning business and technology must be aligned so that business strategies can be successfully implemented. It means that systems and devices are able to work harmoniously with one another and share data back and forth.What is integration of information and communication technology? ›
ICT integration is a comprehensive process of applying technology to the educational system to improve teaching and learning. Its success depends not only on the availability of technology, but also heavily on the pedagogical design.What is the advantage of integrating technology in business? ›
With integrated technologies, your data is more organized, accessible, and easier to share. Your employees don't waste time waiting for data they need, and there is less room for error when everyone is sharing the same database. This lets your employees focus on improving the business, leading to better productivity.How can the integration of technology enhance communication? ›
On the one hand, technology affects communication by making it easier, quicker, and more efficient. It allows you to track conversations and therefore provide better customer service. Tech also makes it easier to gather customer insights and improve the entire customer experience.