Data integration is the process by which information is collected from multiple sources, combined and reconciled in a centralized location, and then used to provide direction and make strategic business decisions. The prospect of integrating data directly into and between internal and external systems and processes can be both exciting and daunting for many companies.
In NewVantage Partners’ 2019 “Big Data and AI Executive Survey,” nearly 72% of the companies surveyed had yet to forge a data culture, and 69% reported they hadn’t yet created a data-driven organization. This study indicates that most U.S. organizations run traditional reports and input data manually rather than incorporate technology into their processes, even though they have a desire to utilize the best technological capabilities available.
The necessity of data integration
So why are so many American businesses not making a bigger push to integrate data as a key part of their operations? The simple answer is that it may seem more difficult to change than to remain the same.
Many businesses accept the status quo. There is no risk when people do the same thing they’ve always done, and many organizations fear that a change in process could lead to financial loss, increased risk, and a slowdown in productivity.
While the fear of change within organizations is real, the larger danger is in taking no action. Consumers—especially consumers of business data—have made it clear that they want their products and services delivered immediately. Rather than wait for someone on the back end to analyze their data and respond a day later, these people have come to expect real-time results.
Getting over data integration concerns
That said, how can you, as an American business leader, get past any hesitation about data integration to achieve the goal of a seamless client journey or user experience as well as better internal processes? Start with these three steps:
Review all your processes—particularly manual ones. Take a step back and assess your process from the cradle to the grave. How long does it take? Can any of the steps be conducted more efficiently or more accurately? Assess where improvements can be made and whether data integration could be helpful.
Ask for outside opinions. Consult industry experts and have them look at any available options to improve your current processes and propose solutions. Speak to companies that offer integrated solutions to both manual and online processes. Many integrated data solutions speed up processing time and fix nearly any business problem.
Conduct a trial period. After you’ve narrowed down the scope of integrated solutions, try one or two of them. Most companies offer a trial period for you to assess whether the solution is beneficial to your organization, so you won’t have to commit 100%. Sync the integration, report on the results, and assess whether you should proceed with phasing the software into your organization. If one doesn’t work, try another. You’ll eventually find the solution that works best for your company and your needs.
Integrating data doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect. Instead, it should be viewed as a way to help bring your company to the next level. According to Gartner, data integration is often the key to streamlining processes and getting products and services to your clients efficiently.
Develop the skills you need—without any travel—with AMA’s portfolio of live online seminars.