In the digital era, businesses acquire large volumes of data from multiple sources. For example, you will have data about the visitors to your website, online store, and social media channels. There will be sales data from e-commerce and in-store platforms. You will measure the marketing efforts and get data feeds from CRM and ERP systems. But to stay ahead in the competitive market, a business has to come with definitive answers continuously.
Without integrating and analyzing data, one will not know the effect of marketing campaigns, the reason for an increase/a decline in sales, the latest customer preferences, etc. As the business expands, every manager and team member should have a uniform and up to date information. And, the first step for getting valuable insights from the raw data is integrating it. Below are the best data integration strategies that you, as a business owner, can implement.
1. Prioritize your goals
Before beginning the process of data integration, one should have clear reasons for doing it. Transforming raw data into useful insights can smoothen and enhance the operations, boost sales, and modernize the legacy systems. Generally, businesses tend to integrate customer service data and sales data with the marketing measures. But, one can also include financial planning and human resource details.
You can achieve a better relationship with customers and clients, predict market trends, be more competitive. Prioritizing the objectives will help you choose the right tools and methods of data integration. Also, you can have the correct measure of return on investment.
2. Involve the right people
Data integration is not the job of IT people alone. They play a significant role in the implementation. But you can reap the benefits when people who handle the data are also a part of the integration process. Thus people from the sales, customer relationship, and management should be aware of data processing systems. Large organizations tend to have a separate team for data management.
They involve both the business side and technical side to come up with an effective integration solution. Another aspect is data access. Data that you provide may not be useful for all the teams. When people have access to unnecessary data, you waste resources and make way for its breach.
3. Choose the tools and integration methods.
Consult the IT team at the planning stage and decide the integration software that you will use. It helps in the allocation of budget, resources, and timeline. The integration methods depend on the size of data and the databases that are currently in use. You will have to decide how to access data. Do you need a separate data center, an application based integration, or cloud-based storage systems? Small and medium businesses go for cloud-based in-app integrations.
If the data is enormous, it is advisable to opt for an enterprise integration platform. You can get the services of a MuleSoft development company. These companies provide cloud-service, mobile integration, application support, and business-to-business integration. Thus, your job is to decide the applications and benefits of data integration. The service company comes up with the desired transformation and analysis-ready data.
4. Data governance and quality
Today, any business has multiple sources of data. The main reasons for the generation of big data are advancements in the digital field and the unstoppable growth of the e-commerce sector. But, while integrating data to draw useful insights, one has to take a few precautions. First, you need to ensure that the data is from authenticated sources. Next, you have to track and keep records of various info like people who viewed the raw data, its transformations, and accessibility.
These measures help you maintain data quality and prevent errors such as wrong format and duplication. Another advantage is you can have standard criteria for data filtering and cleansing. By maintaining a proper procedure for handling data, you can prevent unauthorized access to it. You have the responsibility to keep the customer info safe and avoid misuse by third parties. Always involve the IT security team and adhere to the rules meant for data protection.
5. Automate and be future-ready
Data integration is a continuous process. The amount of data you work with will shoot up quickly due to IoT devices and AI-based technologies. Conventional data integration technologies will not be efficient and cost-effective. Therefore, it is essential to keep up with emerging trends such as cloud-native architecture. At the same time, it does not imply you will have to rush to new technologies.
Migrate the legacy systems gradually and adopt hybrid methods using services like iPaaS. Enhance the process with automated tools and save time and resources. You need to have a scalable integration system, and automation helps in achieving it.
Today, data is the new oil. Social media sites, search engines, mobile apps track your preferences. This data is further utilized for various marketing promotions and helps you identify the target audience, perform competitor analysis, and decide essential marketing processes. But being in a raw form is not useful. Therefore, it is necessary to gather data from various sources and integrate it. Given the enormity of it available, data integration is a complex process today. So, businesses should have clarity in their objectives, have workflow automation in place, and be ready for scaling the system.