Data Integration as a Repeatable Business Process
Insurance Experts' Forum, May 8, 2013
Launching a new coverage line? Moving accounts off the mainframe? Taking over a smaller company?
Let's not mince words: data integration is hard work. There are a lot of data sources that need to be vetted, cleansed, transformed and brought into the fold.
Perhaps there is a way to establish a system flexible enough to absorb any and all new data that comes its way. In a recent webcast, I had the opportunity to join Dr. Claudia Imhoff and John Schmidt, VP of global integration services at Informatica Corporation, in a discussion of the best practices that will enable more seamless data integration as organizations change.
What's required is an adaptable architecture — something we call a next-generation data integration architecture — which can grow and change, while enabling “one-click integration” as new data sources are brought in.
John Schmidt, who is also co-author of "Lean Integration," painted the vision of what such an architecture should look like.
For example, data integration becomes a business process, not an IT activity. This is an important step to achieving more important value from integration activities. IT still plays a key role as an enabler of the process, however. The key is that data integration is baked into the business and is fairly automated, rather than being a special or one-off activity that needs to be started from scratch every time a new data set is brought into the business. Rather, data integration needs to be a repeatable process that occurs almost without any prompting.
John borrows a term from management guru Jim Collins, describing the elevation of data integration to an enterprise process as a “Big Hairy Audacious Vision.” As he puts it: “data integration is a business process just like sales, marketing, order fulfillment, invoicing, etc. Data Integration encourages business user self-service, where IT is an enabler and provides technical support and validation just like for other business processes.”
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