Integration needs are evolving faster than ever before, and the onus is on enterprises to successfully find a solution that takes advantage of integration capabilities to create business value. The difficulty comes from the extensive number of devices, applications, and services in use within an enterprise. That’s why only the best data integration tools can sufficiently manage data to create repeatable workflows that are integral for businesses in 2020.
What Are Data Integration Tools?
Data integration is the process of combining data from many different sources and aggregating it into one cohesive, unified view. The goal of data integration is to make the data itself much more actionable and valuable to an enterprise, so it can improve business outcomes (e.g., improve customer service, expand into new markets, etc.). Because many environments within an enterprise are complex, with large volumes of data flowing from many different sources, elegant data transformation is easier said than done.
The best integration tools enable constant access and delivery across different business processes to meet information consumption requirements of every application, no matter where they live. The demand for improved data analytics, data quality, business intelligence, and reporting are just a few reasons why data integration solutions are increasing in popularity.
Data Integration Tools’ Features and Capabilities
While there are many different styles of data integration solutions, the ones that are most successful within an enterprise have a few recurring features. These include:
- The ability to process data from various sources, including open source ones
- Metadata support
- Deduplication of incorrect or improper data
- The ability to process unstructured data from social media, email, and other sources
System Integration Planning
While data integration capabilities are extremely valuable within an enterprise, they are not the only form of integration that modern enterprises should take advantage of.
System integration is very similar to putting a puzzle together. An organization’s scattered pieces of its information subsystems must fit together into a well-coordinated and cohesive architecture in order to be useful to the business. The process itself can be quite complex, since it connects an organization’s functions from varying systems to streamline disparate systems, which include existing hardware, software (whether it’s customized or out-of-the-box) as well as communications.
There are a few different forms of system integration methods, and which one an enterprise chooses will depend entirely on what their needs are and what they want to gain from a system integration tool. Here are the four key methods for system integration:
A vertical integration method helps break down “silos” and is the process of connecting unrelated subsystems as a single, functional unit with each subsystem benefitting from one another.
Horizontal integration methods are essentially an enterprise service bus (ESB) that creates the application integration layer to allow programmatic connections between different applications and to the ESB itself. It is a systemic-system integration.
Star integration relies on the point-to-point method of integrating system components. This method interconnects each system to the remaining subsystems.
Common Data Format
Common data formats are often applicable in financial, accounting, and customer management operations because they require very specific and often singular data formats.
Key Questions to Ask When Seeking the Right Integration Tool
Question No. 1 – What is the correct integration strategy for a company?
Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. An IT department must justify an integration recommendation to support vital B2B workflows. Avoid forcing something to extract functions and capabilities that are missing. Make sure a modernized IT infrastructure is ready for a system integration method that includes data, application, business-to-business (B2B), and legacy infrastructure. The right integration vendor will help you plan appropriately and map out a strategy that works for your business.
Question No. 2 – What integration interface options are offered?
There several connector choices (B2B/EDI, RESTful and SOAP APIs, Web Services, custom development, etc.), and these options affect implementation, infrastructure, and design. Think about the pros and cons with things like vertical integration vs. horizontal integration, and make sure your integration vendor explains how each interface option will affect the business.
Question No. 3 – How will this integration process affect current systems?
An integration vendor should have full visibility into an IT infrastructure from the very beginning and before a project is even started. Disjointed ecosystems comprised of varying and constantly evolving protocols, formats, technologies, and data use patterns can often cause a domino effect and complicate downstream processes. A well-aligned data migration plan will minimize disruption and ensure business continuity.
Question No. 4 – How will this integration project affect future processes?
Implementing a new project likely won’t be a one-off venture. Consider the scalability of business and IT ecosystems as well as what system integration offers the best flexibility, versatility, and upgrade options going forward. Smart integration approaches help insulate your business from any unforeseeable ecosystem changes.
The Problem with Point-to-Point Integration Tools
Point-to-point integration methods are designed for an infrastructure that has only a few components. However, those few components often turn into so many more. Point-to-point integration methods can become tough to manage, cumbersome, and send IT costs spiraling out of control.
In a point-to-point integration scenario, anytime a company has a new requirement or feature that it needs to add within its system, IT teams must address it individually. This can become tedious to manage given how many systems and applications in place in the average enterprise, and resources can easily become overworked.
Such complexities and headaches are all the more reason why enterprises need to leverage top data integration tools to connect SaaS applications and cloud services with on-premise and legacy systems and increase their overall business processing power.
The Best Integration Tools Make Integration Robust
The best integration tools enable flexibility, scalability, and business interoperability. Cleo Integration Cloud enables the world’s leading organizations to accelerate cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground integration processes to easily integrate applications, storage repositories, and business platforms. Through Cleo data integration, all your data is connected in an elegant way that better powers your on-premise and cloud environments, delivering more value to your business and to your end customers.
By leveraging our leading cloud integration tools, companies can set up a new partner or application integration in half the time of traditional methods, add highly secure connections in a matter of seconds, and extend integration capabilities to partners and customers to make doing business with you that much easier. Additionally, Cleo Integration Cloud allows you to move data of any size, volume, or type up to three times faster, so you can keep up with the speed of business.
Enterprise integration often starts with IT modernization. Discover best practices for IT modernization and integrate your enterprise today.