Put data integration in terms execs can understand

Many organizations have difficulty accessing the right data in the correct format at the time its needed. Get help selling data integration solutions and services to such customers.

IT channel takeaway: Need help selling data integration solutions and services? Don't just sell to the IT department. Address business execs and drive the point that data integration is at the root of many an IT problem.

With Ian Chatsworth, senior analyst at Ovum.

Question: You've written that every organization requires data integration at some level, and yet many of them just don't understand that need. Why is that?

Chatsworth: It's because, as much as we'd like to think that in the modern application environment the gap between IT and business has been spanned and we are connected, the reality is far from that. I think that the majority of vendors who are active in promoting data integration still try to sell it to the IT department -- the easy sell, if you like. And so the language that surrounds data integration and data integration software is lost on the majority of business people.

The second reason is that data integration technologies themselves need to be considered more a part and parcel of every project. For example, take business process integration. You can pick a simple cash process in an organization and actually understand what that process is. That's a challenge, but it can be done. But actually taking the knowledge of that process and saying, "How well are we equipped as an organization from a data and information management perspective to actually surface the right data, in the right format, at the right time to serve the needs of that process?" -- that's where a lot of organizations come up against problems.

Question: Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought about the best way to integrate data, one being federation -- enterprise information integration -- and one being the idea of a single giant database -- the solution favored by Oracle. How should organizations think about that issue?

Chatsworth: I don't actually see two schools of thought. I actually think what we have is a range of approaches and technologies at our disposal. And addressing the challenge of one vs. the other -- it's not like a war between two different formats. I think it's actually a question of learning, among the various technologies we have available, where their sweet spots lie. What kind of scenarios and what kind of problems are they suited for? What's needed is a coordinated and consolidated approach to data integration that embraces, if necessary, all manner of technologies.

Question: Returning to the first point about the language that's being used to describe data integration being kind of tough for business types to understand: If you're a senior IT executive in a large company, what would be the one or two key points you'd want to get across to senior management to help them understand the problem better?

Chatsworth: I think the first point to get across is that, like it or not, data integration issues will be costing your organization a lot of money year after year. And until you actually recognize that data integration is at the root cause of a lot of these problems, then you're not going to be able to address them in an adequate way.

This 3 Questions originally appeared in a weekly report from IT Business Edge.

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