Business Users: The Future of Data Integration

Forrester analyst Michele Goetz recently posted a blog on the future of data management in which she states that to succeed in data management you have to think like a business owner. You need to learn and understand what goes into supporting security, quality, and business intelligence, and craft strategies that are business growth opportunities. Making this transition requires a shift from focusing on the data systems themselves to the business outcomes achieved by using the data.

It certainly makes sense for the people integrating and managing an enterprise’s data to have an understanding about the best way to use it. However, the reality of the situation is that turning IT developers into strategic business thinkers who understand operations, business partner relationships, and growth opportunities, and turning business people into competent users of complex data integration software is not an easy venture.

Many data integration software offerings today are complex and often disparate packages that require developer expertise and programming knowledge to run. It is not uncommon to see large IT teams dedicated to transforming, validating, and cleansing incoming data from various sources. Some teams use a jumble of homegrown systems, ad-hoc programs, and off-the-shelf programs such as Excel, Access, and others to perform these tasks. Adding a new data source requires significant development work and impedes the business’s ability to efficiently integrate new customers and partners.

A key strategy to ensure a successful transition from the silos of IT and business operations into an integrated team is to start with the adoption of a data integration platform that is uncomplicated for developers to deploy and manage and intuitive and approachable for business professionals. If the developers don’t have to focus all their energy on the technology, they will have time to learn more about how to support data strategy and business growth. Conversely, if business professionals can share in the day-to-day data management tasks they can contribute their knowledge of the business to foster strategies and practices that focus more on how the data is used rather than on how it is managed.

This is the premise that Astera has been working towards since its inception. Centerprise Data Integrator has been developed from the ground up for use not only by developers, but also by business professionals responsible for making decisions based on enterprise data. Centerprise reflects our deep experience in and awareness of the critical issues involved with data transformation, validation, and cleansing, as well as the need for non-developer resources to be able to access and effectively use data.

Centerprise enables business analysts to develop business guidelines directly rather than handing off to a developer. Data conversion specialists at all levels can quickly bring in new data formats, deal with inconsistencies such as data format differences and data quality errors, and identify and resolve data quality issues at a fraction of the cost and time of using IT to do these tasks. Most importantly, Centerprise enables business users to contribute to focusing data integration and management efforts within the context of business needs.