Integration is Only as Good as Your Data

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charlie-greenbergIn this special guest feature, Charlie Greenberg, Senior Global Product Marketing Manager at Software AG, discusses why integration is only as good as your data, and how a business can ensure superior data quality to drive better integration. Charlie Greenberg is Software AG’s Sr. Global Product Marketing Manager for webMethods OneData MDM supporting the OneData product since March of 2008. In addition to being a speaker and panelist at events sponsored by DAMA, IDMA, Data Management Forum, FIMA and the MDM Institute, Charlie’s writings on MDM can be viewed on “Database Trends & Analysis”, “Sand Hill”, “Dashboard Insights” , InfoSec Institute, and

In today’s increasingly digital world, businesses are met with the challenge of streamlining data across the organization to ensure information is available to every line of business. As they come to embrace digital transformation, they are acknowledging that integration is the key to success.

Integration simplifies and streamlines the IT enterprise – stitching together different, often siloed, systems so that the data contained in each becomes part of a larger, more comprehensive system that offers “one version of the truth.” But while integration is designed to move data throughout the enterprise quickly and efficiently, it is not designed to fix bad data. If data quality suffers, integration becomes complicit in the distribution of bad data.

Corporate data grows at a rate of about 40 percent per year. With this year-over-year increase in information, the smallest abnormality – be it duplicate data, conflicting data, incomplete data or invalid data – can wreak havoc on the bottom line. According to Gartner, organizations lose on average $14.2 million annually due to poor quality data. Minor inconsistencies quickly add up, negatively impacting customer satisfaction and resulting in loss to a competitive service or product. For instance:

  • Two or more identical records can result in the misrepresentation of inventory counts, duplication of shipments or unnecessary invoicing;
  • When two sets of data contradict one another, or there are the same records with differing values, it causes a conflict within system operations. A company name with different addresses recorded can cause deliveries to the wrong location or customers to receive the wrong products;
  • Incomplete data can cause payroll not to be processed because of missing a social security number, or mean that a retailer, for instance, is unable to identify a loyal customer;
  • And invalid data, or information not conforming to standardization, can cause miscommunication. This can be as simple as a customer’s ZIP code containing four digits, instead of the requisite five – a simple typo that may mean that they don’t receive a product they order.

All these examples point to the fact that poor data quality will undermine and undo many of the advantages integration provides. Rather than enacting an integration strategy that unintentionally furthers this damage, businesses should first focus on getting the data right. So, how can they do this? The answer – a master data management (MDM) system.

MDM is all about improving organizational data quality by consolidating disparate data from multiple enterprise applications. By merging and matching different representations of the same customer record, MDM creates a “gold copy.” In this process, customer addresses are cleansed and standardized, missing or incomplete attributes are reconciled and provided, and customer names are synchronized with locations. By understanding which particular customer system is the most trusted source for a given data attribute – such as ZIP codes, addresses and tax IDs – MDM can execute a series of business rules and algorithms in order to create that highly coveted single version of truth integration strives to achieve.

MDM provides businesses with data quality, data governance and security, and is increasingly viewed as a baseline requirement for any successful process improvement initiative. MDM provides superior data so the business’s integration is successful. And the benefits to successfully implementing MDM and integration come by way of saved costs and increased productivity. Superior data enables organizations throughout the enterprise to thrive as the amount of business data continues to grow and the digital transformation fulling takes shape.


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