Today’s most successful companies recognize data as the new business currency and are using it to generate insights, drive innovation and disrupt industries. IT leaders play a crucial role in this process by ensuring consistent access to high-quality data. To fulfill this mission, IT professionals must develop an effective strategy to integrate and manage an expanding influx of data from a wider variety of sources and to harmonize this data into information that provides value to the business and its customers. As the volume of data and number of data sources increases, the question of how to integrate and manage information assets becomes even more important.
Determining the optimal data strategy is challenging because data integration and management technologies are evolving. As IT leaders consider new solutions to support their data integration and management goals, they must factor in the major shifts taking place in the marketplace, including technological advances, platform changes and new business models being deployed by solution providers. Understanding the following five factors can help IT professionals make the right decisions.
- Data-domain boundaries erased. Enterprise integration and data-management environments have comprised solutions targeting various patterns of integration: A2A, B2B/EDI, ETL, MFT, and a combination of on-premises and cloud integration. Data has been divided into domains on the basis of integration patterns. Thanks to advances in integration technology, multiple integration patterns and requirements can now be tackled more efficiently through a single platform, easing integration and data-management complexity. This development renders single-domain solutions obsolete.
- Legacy integration technologies undermined. As IT leaders seek technologies that support digital transformation and look for ways to integrate and manage data arriving in a variety of formats from an expanding range of sources, they’re moving away from targeted and on-premises solutions toward the cloud. Aging B2B/EDI, MFT and middleware solutions are too fragile and inflexible to handle modern data integration and management. These solutions leave data trapped in silos, making it difficult for enterprises to extract and share information to increase efficiency and more quickly launch new digitally based business models that meet changing customer demands. Digital transformation requires integration and data-management technologies that are flexible and scalable. On-premises server-based solutions that were designed more than a decade ago simply aren’t up to the task. By choosing the right cloud-based solution, IT leaders can support more-dynamic digital operations, which deploy data and connect ecosystems to generate more customer value for the company.
- New focus on data management. Understandably, enterprises and vendors have focused on data integration for the past several years, looking for ways to modernize integration solutions and approaches to align with today’s more complex environment. As companies confront greater amounts of data from many disparate sources and with different types of data, both structured and unstructured, they’re turning more of their attention toward data management as well. They realize the strategic importance of having access to reliable, consistent data and that achieving this goal requires careful data cleansing, transformation and harmonization. As a result, data-driven organizations are focusing on data-management strategies and solutions.
- Market for professional integration and data-management services grows. Both data integration and data management are more challenging today, driving demand for specialized skills. IT leaders who are coping with this new reality have a choice to make: they can devote more in-house resources to “citizen integrator” projects that require in-house IT staff to create workarounds with do-it-yourself tools and compel data scientists to spend the majority of their time as “data janitors,” or they can seek data integration and management expertise outside the company. In the latter scenario, solution providers handle data cleanup and integration as managed services while in-house IT professionals use the resulting high-quality data to generate insights, inspire innovation and support digital transformation.
- Data-security and data-privacy regulations increase. High-profile hacking incidents as well as data-security and data-privacy concerns are driving adoption of new legal requirements and higher standards from regulatory entities. GDPR is just one example. Meeting all these standards is a challenge for IT leaders who must ensure compliance, and the challenge is likely to increase as regulators require more oversight of platforms, processes and people to protect sensitive data and ensure privacy. As the regulations multiply, more IT leaders are working with platform providers who ensure comprehensive compliance with multiple enterprise-data regulatory frameworks. Doing so helps to reduce the compliance burden for in-house teams.
A broader trend in the data integration and management space is that two disciplines—“data integration” and “data management”—are converging to form a market for unified “data platforms.” This development will simplify choices for IT professionals by providing holistic solutions. The right combination of data platform and managed services can effectively address today’s integration and data-management challenges.
Adoption of professional managed services for integration and data management is a continuation of another trend that has been under way for years in the technology space: the drive by companies to focus on their expertise and to rely on cloud partners to support any critical operations that lie outside that expertise. Just as enterprises now find it simpler to access infrastructure from partners rather than building and maintaining in-house capabilities, IT leaders are looking to data integration and management experts to provide a platform and services that consistently generate high-quality data.
As data integration and management solutions become more effective and more companies choose to shift associated processes as well as privacy and security compliance to third-parties, company leaders will be able to direct more resources toward digital transformation. Enterprises that take advantage of these opportunities will be in a better position to use technology—not merely to digitize support for traditional operational processes but to transform the way they do business and provide value to customers. This situation means the evolution of data integration and management technologies will free companies to focus on a data-inspired future.
About the Author
Rob Consoli is CRO of Liaison Technologies, a recognized leader in cloud-based integration and data management solutions. Liaison's cloud-based approach and Alloy platform breaks down the barriers between data silos to tap into the valuable information customers need to make better decisions, faster.