Modern businesses don’t run on a single application – they leverage many IT systems to provide the capabilities to enable operational processes and users to be effective. To ensure complex IT environments run smoothly, companies are placing increased focus on how systems are integrated, and the activities required to manage integrations across the ecosystem. While system integration is a multi-layered challenge, the essential part to get right is your enterprise data integration strategy.
An enterprise data integration strategy is a set of policies, processes, design guidelines, and governance controls that you put in place to ensure data integrations are implemented consistently, controlled centrally, and are fully supported by your IT function. If you think about it, data integrations are applications in themselves.
They are a set of functions that move data from one system to another, monitor the flow of data, enforce security rules, and enable business processes. When you consider how many integrations your company has (typically 3-5x the number of applications), it is clear why you need a holistic enterprise data integration strategy to ensure these critical IT components are well managed.
The following are a list of 5 reasons why you need an enterprise data integration strategy for your company
- Save time and resources in building integrations
How many ways are there to connect two systems together? If you don’t have any standardized design patterns for data integration, the answer is infinite. More importantly, how much time will your expensive IT staff spend brainstorming and designing novel ways of doing integrations that result in increased complexity and risk a few years down the line when your IT service management (ITSM) team is trying to support them? An enterprise data integration strategy should include a set of design patterns for integrating IT systems that your developers can choose from. If you have a data integration platform like Actian DataConnect in your environment, you can use the integration templates as a starting point.
- Ensure business continuity with fewer disruptions to business processing
You have service level agreements (SLAs) for application performance and availability, do you have SLAs for your data integrations? Most companies don’t. When an integration fails, how quickly are you able to respond and repair it? An enterprise data integration strategy should include a set of guidelines for how to monitor the availability and performance of your data integrations to ensure any failures that could impact business services and operational processes are identified quickly and resolved. Most companies have ITSM functions in place, with incident management teams ready to respond to application and hardware failures. With the right data integration strategy, you can enable enterprise support for integrations as well.
- Centralized governance and management lowers risk
Your enterprise data integration strategy should include a plan for how you will manage integrations once they have been developed. This includes things like access control (who can see the integrated data), change management processes, rules for extending integrations (re-using them for other purposes), management of system credentials, and data encryption. The strategy must go beyond a set of published guidelines and be supported by a data management system that can help you enforce controls and monitor compliance across the organization. Centralized governance and visibility is a critical part of managing both the risk of business disruption and ensuring efficient use of organizational resources.
- Faster response to threats
Data security threats are a real problem for organizations that have a high dependency on IT systems. Your enterprise data integration strategy provides your company with an extra set of tools for defending against intrusion and responding to data security threats. Managing your integrations in a consistent way (with the governance controls discussed earlier) not only enables you to control the free-flow of information across your organization, but it also means that you have control points to shut-off that flow if a threat is identified. With consistent integration patterns and central control plane, you can also (confidently) shut any backdoors that could enable an intruder to bypass your security. Once a threat is contained, you can then update credentials, secure the environment, and restore business processing to normal.
- Increased agility in times of change
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about enterprise business agility – the need for companies to adapt their processes, systems, and strategies in response to forces and events (both inside and external to the company like COVID-19). An agile enterprise data integration strategy that is consistently applied across the organization and supported by the right set of data integration tooling can help your company reduce the technical debt (the spaghetti pile of system integrations) that prevent you from safely implementing changes. It can also provide you the tools to change your existing integrations and create new ones faster – meaning you can change your overall IT systems more quickly to respond to evolving business needs and strategic opportunities.
Current events make addressing these issues more important (and urgent) than ever!
The COVID-19 crisis is bringing the issue of business continuity to the forefront of leader’s minds. Companies are trying to survive, adapt, and stay agile – shifting business processes, roles, systems, and operations to deliver the right business outcomes. Cost management is “top of mind” right now as companies pivot to a new normal where business conditions change daily. An enterprise integration strategy can help you navigate through these times of turmoil and emerge healthier and more prosperous on the other side.
Actian DataConnect is an industry-leading data integration platform, enabling you to connect anything, anytime anywhere. DataConnect can help bring your enterprise data integration strategy to life – providing a centralized set of tools for implementing and managing the data integrations across your company.
To learn more, visit www.actian.com/dataconnect.