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Data Integration Myth-Busting: Don’t Let These 4 Misconceptions Hold You Back

In this special guest feature, Jan Arendtsz, CEO of Celigo, suggests that business leaders and IT professionals know this tsunami of data is here, but many don’t yet have a comprehensive strategy to integrate it all, so they rely on stop-gap measures. Four data myths in particular hold companies back from creating an effective, long-term data integration strategy. Here’s a brief overview of each myth — and an explanation of why it’s leading businesses astray. Jan is a veteran of the software industry with more than 20 years of experience in development, product management, client services, and sales roles. He founded Celigo in 2006 with the goal of simplifying the integration of cloud-based applications. He is responsible for overseeing all company operations. Jan holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin.

Data drives companies of all sizes. From enterprises to medium-sized companies to smaller businesses, IT leaders are updating their data strategies to handle information flowing in and out of a growing number of sources. This includes dozens, or even hundreds, of business apps used across the organization that generate and consume valuable data. Finding a way to integrate that data across all these applications will be a top priority for companies looking to succeed.

Business leaders and IT professionals know this tsunami of data is here, but many don’t yet have a comprehensive strategy to integrate it all, so they rely on stop-gap measures. Four data myths in particular hold companies back from creating an effective, long-term data integration strategy. Here’s a brief overview of each myth — and an explanation of why it’s leading businesses astray.

I Can Build it Myself

Build vs. buy is a perennial dilemma for IT departments. Many have the skills to build their own data integration platform and write code, but the question isn’t can they, it’s should they?  Technical expertise is a finite and valuable resource in any company. Allocating experts to build integration workarounds and point-to-point solutions means fewer resources are available for core business functions.

IT can build custom integrations and functionality with APIs and code, but that leaves the IT team on the hook for critical integration functionality like data governance, error checks, monitoring and much more. An alternative like integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) frees IT from those headaches and the stress of change requests, debugging, maintenance, etc. The capabilities of iPaaS is why its growth is accelerating.

End Users Can’t Handle Even Simple Integrations

Another persistent myth in the data integration sphere is that only highly skilled technicians can connect applications and business processes and maintain those integrations. That was true in the early days — just as it was once true that users couldn’t handle a simple email setup and IT had absolute control over business apps.

Today, business unit leaders and employees choose their own apps, and there’s little or no coordination with other departments or IT. Because there are so many integration requirements, IT can’t be on the hook forever to maintain these integrations every time there is the need for a field change or an error check. The right iPaaS solution standardizes how apps are added and streamlines data flow across applications, making it easier for IT to hand off integrations for the end users to maintain.

My Company is Too Small for a Comprehensive Data Integration Strategy

Smaller companies may not perceive the need for robust data integration capabilities yet. When out-of-the-box integration features aren’t flexible enough to cover their needs, they cobble together workarounds using spreadsheets, email and manual data entry, thinking they’ll address integration as they expand.

The problem with that approach is that integration bottlenecks and data silos don’t go away on their own, and the longer the company puts off finding a comprehensive solution, the bigger the mess they’ll have to clean up later. The problem only grows exponentially. Businesses that address integration early are in a better position to scale and grow than peers that are still handling integration on an ad hoc basis.

It’s Too Soon to Think about Data Integration

Sometimes even larger companies put off committing to an integration solution on the grounds that the need isn’t yet acute. That just delays the inevitable, allowing data silos to proliferate. This means that eventually processes become unsustainable, causing massive delays, lack of visibility and costly errors across the organization. When the company finally does decide to eliminate silos and standardize processes, they’ll have a huge backlog to address.

It’s similar to addressing compliance: Even if the company isn’t able to tackle the issue in a comprehensive way yet, it’s important to lay the groundwork and explore strategies sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the task will grow larger, and the risk only increases as the companies grow.

Conclusion

Digital transformation is bringing fundamental change to businesses across all sectors. Companies in virtually every industry now use a variety of SaaS solutions to solve every business problem. As people deploy more business apps, enabling the secure and smooth flow of data across the organization increasingly becomes a top priority.

IT and data leaders who are thinking about an integration strategy may have considered building their own solution, or use piecemeal integrations every time a new application is added or a new process needs to be automated. They may have concerns about the technical requirements a modern approach like an iPaaS alternative would demand of users and the company. The good news is that today’s simpler, more affordable iPaaS solutions can bust those myths — and make data a real competitive advantage.

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