In today’s world, where data is vital for the businesses to run efficiently, we come across various methods to handle and process the data to derive information. The amount of important data is almost doubling every day in every organization. This means data management is equally important to make effective use of it. One of the most important data management techniques used around the world is data integration.
Data integration means collecting data from multiple data sources and then combining it to provide a unified view. This unified view, in turn, becomes valuable and meaningful information to the users. Data integration requires a set of technical and business processes usually performed by software.
For example, the marketing department of a bank uses a customer’s data placed at different departments. The system collects data related to credit rating, transaction history, spending, historical balances, etc., and combines it all in one place. This helps the marketer classify customers into segments and decide which products are the most suitable for each of them.
Like every other application of information technology around us, data integration is no less important. Since we are talking from businesses’ perspective, let us discuss a few of the benefits of data integration for businesses.
Availability of the Data
Centralized data means it is readily available to more users both inside and outside of the company. Therefore, one “single-source of truth” exists making data far more easy to manage and secure. Depending on the nature of the business, it becomes easier for users to retrieve and analyze the data that they want.
Another vital role of data integration for businesses is that their data is live for the users in real time. Even if the data is amended or edited, it will update on the user end immediately. One big application to exemplify this is the weather broadcasts. Systems collect data from sensors placed all across the city and the users just see the result in the form of forecasts.
Data Becomes More Valuable
Data in its raw form usually means nothing to the user. The user is less likely to understand, compare and give his/her opinion on an incomplete set of data. Data integration brings disparate datasets in one place, which makes it easier for the user to comprehend. Sometimes the integrated data is the information the user needs.
If the data is more understandable, it enables users to make quicker and smarter decisions. To a manager; raw data from marketing, sales, procurement, and manufacturing departments might mean nothing. However, when integrated together, it will help the managers decide suitable pricing for products keeping in view the demand, supply, costs and overheads to manufacture.
For a business, it is highly unlikely that it does not use some degree of data integration. To do it manually or with the help of a system is no more a matter of choice, but a necessity. We can say this because, in a highly competitive environment, it is more important to make timely decisions than to spend time collecting data.