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Each year, my company holds a global sales conference where employees and partners from around the world some together to collaborate, share knowledge and ideas and learn about future plans.  As a member of the professional services division, several of us had been asked to make a presentation, an elevator pitch in 3 minutes or less that relates to a success we have worked on or directly relates to our tag (that is, our primary technology focus).  Mine happens to be Enterprise Integration as it relates Business Intelligence.  I found it rather difficult to present that pitch in a short amount of time and had to pare it down.  At any rate, in just a little over 3 minutes, this is the presentation I submitted.  Here is a link to the full presentation video in WMV format.

 

Many companies today subscribe to a buy versus build mentality in an attempt to drive down costs and improve time to implementation. Sometimes this makes sense, especially as it relates to specialized software or software that performs a small number of tasks extremely well.

However, if not carefully considered or planned out, this oftentimes leads to multiple disparate systems with silos of data or multiple versions of the same data. For instance, client data (contact information, addresses, phone numbers, opportunities, sales) stored in your CRM system may not play well with Accounts Receivables. Employee data may be stored across multiple systems such as HR, Time Entry and Payroll. Other data (such as member data) may not originate internally, but be provided by multiple outside sources in multiple formats. And to top it all off, some data may have to be manually entered into multiple systems to keep it all synchronized.

When left to grow out of control like this, overall performance is lacking, stability is questionable and maintenance is frequent and costly. Worse yet, in many cases, this topology, this hodgepodge of data creates a reporting nightmare. Decision makers are forced to try to put together pieces of the puzzle attempting to find the information they need, wading through multiple systems to find what they think is the single version of the truth. More often than not, they find they are missing pieces, pieces that may be crucial to growing the business rather than closing the business.

across applications. Master data owners are defined to establish single sources of data (such as the CRM system owns client data). Other systems subscribe to the master data and changes are replicated to subscribers as they are made. This can be one way (no changes are allowed on the subscriber systems) or bi-directional. But at all times, the master data owner is current or up to date. And all data, whether internal or external, use the same processes and methods to move data from one place to another, leveraging the same validations, lookups and transformations enterprise wide, eliminating inconsistencies and siloed data.

Once implemented, an enterprise integration solution improves performance and stability by reducing the number of moving parts and eliminating inconsistent data. Overall maintenance costs are mitigated by reducing touch points or the number of places that require modification when a business rule is changed or another data element is added. Most importantly, however, now decision makers can easily extract and piece together the information they need to grow their business, improve customer satisfaction and so on.

So, in implementing an enterprise integration solution, companies can position themselves for the future, allowing for easy transition to data marts, data warehousing and, ultimately, business intelligence. Along this path, companies can achieve growth in size, intelligence and complexity. Truly, the question is not can companies afford to implement an enterprise integration solution, but can they afford not to.

 

Ralph Wheaton
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist
Microsoft Certified Professional Developer
Microsoft VTS-P BizTalk, .Net

Posted on Sunday, January 9, 2011 10:48 PM Enterprise Integration | Back to top

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