So what is data integration? Too often, businesses silo their data. Data integration collects and interprets multiple datasets across the organisation, removing silos. This integration then creates a pipeline and a unified data environment, which enables organisations to respond to change and innovate more quickly.
Data integration: It’s about the journey
To build on the analogy, data integration is like bringing all your fitness goals together into one place. Just like we track weight, heart rate and blood oxygen levels in the gym, data integration uses business metrics like profit, employee engagement and customer satisfaction to measure the “fitness” of the organisation.
But as we have seen, too often these business health measurements are locked up in different parts of the organisation, and it’s not possible to get an overall picture. To put it simply, it’s hard to know which organisational muscles need extra work, and why certain parts of the business, to use a fitness term, can’t seem to “shred”.
To bring all these parts of business data together, Qlik has created a 90-day (three months) data integration—or business fitness—program. The program is designed to get all the data in your organisation in one place and deliver benefits within weeks, not years. Breaking down the data integration project into smaller steps will let you develop data products that demonstrate their direct impact on the business—early and often.
The first 30 days
As any gym-goer will tell you, fitness is always more fun with a friend. They keep you motivated and accountable, and the same thing goes for the first 30 days of your data integration project.
The key here is to engage senior stakeholders who have a shared vision for data integration and reframe the data integration project as a key goal for business success. Just like working out, you need to understand why you’re undertaking the project. Take time to get a handle on the business challenge that’s driving the need for data integration, and gain an understanding of what the outcomes of the project will be.
It’s also critical to look inwards and understand what the barriers to success are. What are the pain points of your internal data consumers? According to recent research by IDC, 97% of Australian business leaders reported difficulties in identifying potentially valuable data sources. Only 53% of Australian organisations believe they have captured most of this data.
Looking at these two areas is a good place to start and once you understand those pain points, you can develop an engagement plan to get them excited about your new data product.
The final step in your first 30 days is to communicate. Make sure your stakeholders understand what the data integration vision is, which will help with future adoption and success.
60 days in
After the first month, it’s time for some new goals - just like in the gym. Except with data integration, you’re going to be defining project scope and trimming any fat that might be causing delays or unhappy stakeholders.
You’ll also be setting realistic timelines for hitting achievable goals; doing so means that all your stakeholders will stay motivated for the journey ahead. Finally, focus on simple wins. Identify and clean your initial data points and get the testing and reconciliation process underway. You can also think about adding more data points as your project becomes fitter.
90 days and beyond
Once you’ve been at this data integration project for a while it’s time to begin the development of your data product. Now is the moment to integrate the data you previously identified and cleaned.
You’ll also need to stay flexible when you’re writing your code because this will let you add additional data points more easily in future.
And like any fitness fanatic, it’s also time to see the benefits of your work. Engage with stakeholders and highlight how your project is addressing business needs and creating business value. This will also let the stakeholders share their feedback, informing future versions of the data integration project as the business grows.
More than anything, don’t be afraid to show off! By measuring common ROI metrics such as adoption, operational efficiency and performance, you can validate your fitness efforts and get the business support you need for future data integration projects.
As we have seen, data integration is a journey. But it’s a journey that, like fitness, delivers benefits early and often—and with a big payday the longer you keep at it. Don’t settle or get complacent because data integration, like fitness, is a living concept.
If you are a Chief Data Officer that is dealing with data that is looking aged and bloated, you’re not alone. Download Qlik’s full 30-60-90-day data integration fitness plan today to see how other Chief Data Officers around the world have managed to get their data fit.