The ability of companies to integrate their data is becoming increasingly important in this digital age. And just like business intelligence, big data, and analytics, data integration has become a hot IT topic that everyone wants to talk about.
What Is Data Integration?
What is data integration? To answer this question, you need to know what data is. Data can be defined as information or facts organized and stored in a storage medium (such as memory). There are many types of data; for example, numerical, textual, visual, etc.
Data integration combines data from multiple sources into a single, unified view for analysis and decision-making at different levels in an organization.
The value of data integration lies in “the ability to bring together data from disparate sources to form a single, consistent picture of the customer.”
Data integration is necessary in organizational and enterprise settings where there are multiple data sources; for example:
- Data analytics, which provides unified access to big data stored across distributed infrastructures
- Master data management (MDM), which provides a single view of master data that is applied within and across businesses
- Data warehouse, which provides an integrated structure for storing enterprise information
But it also offers other benefits to a business through the following:
1. Better Collaboration
Data integration brings multiple users together on a single platform to get the most out of their workforce. When data is accessible through a single source, disparate teams can collaborate and achieve common goals effectively.
In the process, data integration boosts productivity across the board because it allows employees to spend less time searching for data and more time leveraging that information to find better ways of satisfying customers.
2. More Effective Analytics
Data integration allows organizations to understand the various aspects of customer behavior in a unified manner. It gives them a comprehensive view of their business landscape, thus enabling them to make better decisions.
All these then translate to higher revenue since companies can now make decisions to deliver better customer experiences and attract more customers.
One of these is personalization. Some studies have already shown that the more customized the content is, the higher the conversion rate.
3. Improved Operational Efficiency
Data integration helps companies make better use of their workforce by streamlining the way they manage data. When data is centralized, it helps employees work faster because they are not making multiple copies or performing redundant processes. It also cuts down on costs because there’s only one copy to maintain and protect.
4. Better Risk Management
Data integration allows companies to understand their business landscape better. It helps them proactively identify risks or issues before they become serious problems, thus enabling them to take timely corrective action.
Bringing together data from disparate sources also gives companies a comprehensive view of the big picture. For example, it may show that all departments are growing, but revenues are flat, indicating that there may be a problem with the company’s strategy.
Since data integration provides an integrated view of their business, it makes it easier for managers to spot problems early on and take action before escalating.
5. More Reliable Decision Making
Data integration allows organizations to make data-driven decisions, which in turn boosts organizational performance.
For example, by using data integration tools, marketers can get a holistic view of an individual customer across different channels (social media, email, mobile), thus enabling them to deliver more personalized experiences and increase engagement.
Data science consulting teams can then leverage data integration tools to perform analytics on the data and uncover new insights that they can use to drive better business decisions, such as product development or hiring strategies.
6. Higher Levels of Customer Satisfaction
Data integration brings multiple internal functions together to create a single view of the customer. It creates a cohesive and comprehensive relationship management platform that allows companies to understand customers’ needs better and deliver an exceptional customer experience.
A higher level of customer satisfaction translates to customer loyalty. When customers feel valued, they are more willing to transact with the same company again and recommend it to their friends and family.
In some industries, such as retail and banking, customer loyalty is paramount because a significant portion of their revenue comes from repeat transactions. In fact, according to one study, retaining just 5 percent of existing customers has the potential to bring in 35 percent more revenue.
7. Organizational Agility
With data integration in place, organizations can speed up decision-making by leveraging insights from integrated data sources across the organization at any given time. This process, therefore, makes it easier for companies to transition from one strategy to another, allowing them to adjust and adapt to a constantly shifting business landscape quickly.
The bottom line is that companies that integrate their data into a single source can achieve better business outcomes. As the volume of data continues to grow, having a robust data integration framework in place will help companies enhance customer experience, improve operational efficiency, and boost business performance.