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What is Data Integration ? Benefits | Tools | Challenges

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Introduction to Data Integration

Data Integration is collecting and combining data from various resources. It provides a unified structure or view of the combined data to manipulate operations, perform analytics, and build statistics. Integration is the initial step towards transforming data into more descriptive and critical data. There are mainly two types:
  •  Enterprise Data Integration
  •  Customer Data Integration

Enterprise Data Integration (EDI)

Enterprise Data Integration is technological instructions that help us to manipulate data over two or more data sets. As the name suggests, it typically involves acquiring data from diverse business systems and crunching them to perform various management activities and business intelligence reports.

Customer Data Integration (CDI)

For a business organization to be successful, its main motive must be satisfying customers, understanding their needs and preferences. With the humongous amount of data already available, it is pretty obvious to assume that there is marginal difficulty accessing and operating on the data at a much faster pace.
Big Data Strategy and Assessment services for Infrastructure Planning, Big Data Management, MetaData, and Big Data Security, and Monitoring Services. Take The Big Data Readiness Assessment

So, CDI is nothing but the process of collecting and manipulating customer data among numerous multiple sources and framing data in a unified way so that it would be easy to share among every member of that business organization that deals with customers. Predictive Insight, Improved Customer Service, Loyal Customers are some of the benefits to name under CDI.

Why is Data Integration important?

With the increasing volume of data collected through various sources and at a much faster velocity every day, it is very much clear that Data is and has been the most valuable possession.  The businesses are very keen on implementing various strategies to utilize the data to complete applications as possible. Still, the real question is how efficiently that can be done. So, let's understand what it means-  The problem with such an immense quantity of Data is also quite extensive. According to a survey conducted online by Experian, thewhir.com, and others, nearly 60% of companies today lack a properly functioning business strategy, resulting in catastrophic effects. Data Integration tends to solve this issue quite effectively by doing a real-time view and analysis of the Data, thus collecting various targets.
  • Helps in reducing Complexity in Data
  • Increases the value of data crunched through unified systems
  • Centralizing the data, i.e., making it more valuable and easy to use
  • Collaborations make easier among various business systems.
  • Make Smarter Business decisions.
  • Improves the communication between different departments under the hood 
  • Secures your data live by keeping information timely up-to-date
  • Better customer experience 

Data Integration Platform for agility and for an end to end operations and decision-making from different sources. Source: Real Time Big Data Integration Solutions

What are the Best Tools for Data Integration?

No doubt, the demand for data integration arises from complex data center environments where various multiple systems are creating large volumes of data. One must understand the Data in accumulation rather than in isolation. It is nothing more than a technique and technology for providing a unified and consistent view of enterprise-wide data. There are numerous tools available in the market that would help us query the Data effectively since our data will not integrate itself. To name a few, we have some Open Source Data Integration Tools, Cloud-based Tools, and also the On-premises Data Integration tools. The best tool to choose depends on the requirements, platform, and type of data that particular business organizations are likely to use.

What are the Features of Data Integration Tools?

Specific Features of Data Integration tools are
  1. Connectors – the more the connectors, the more your team will save
  2. Open Source – open-source contents tend to provide more flexibility
  3. Portability – build once and run multiple times at distributed environments
  4. Easy to use – tools you make to integrate should be interactive and easy to use with better visualization
  5. Cloud Compatibility – integrated data should be open to working natively in multiple cloud environments

List of Common Cloud-based Services and Tools

Here’s a list of some of the more common cloud-based services and tools:

List of Common Open-source Tools

Here’s a list of common open-source tools:

Data Integration Architecture

Most of the people from the industry background believe that there is no architecture for data integration. That is why most of them termed data integration architecture as like some rhetoric hyperbole. The biggest reason why it needs architecture is Complexity. Since various data are being collected from multiple business sources, different data models present where it gets crunched into numerous small pieces that are equally distinct and don't flow in any particular manner. Hence, chances are it needs good staging areas. So, if we have to sum it up quickly and precisely, it is a lot of complex and diverse tasks to operate into a data integration bin. Hub-and-spoke is the most preferred architecture style for almost all integration solutions. In this architecture, the inter-server communicates and performs data manipulations passed through a central hub, where another integration server manages the same transformation task.
Management of Big Data using Data Ingestion, pipelines, tools, best practices, and Modern Batch Processing makes everything Quantified and Tracked. Source: Overview of Data Ingestion

What are the Challenges of Data Integration?

  • Working with Timely Data - integrating real-time data without lagging behind the systems
  • Remove all data siloes - extracting from and delivering to a wide variety of systems.
  • Build a smart architecture - processing and enhancing the streaming data to the enterprise platform.
  • Data security issues - lack of data security is one of the critical priorities of an integration solution, ensuring it is secure and confidential.
  • How to get to the finish line - using specific integration tools and principles of architecting the data to accomplish desired targets at a constant pace limiting within weeks or days.
  • Keeping up with the industry trends is one common challenge for every emerging and established business organization to match the targets needed to win. 
  • Data from newer business demands - the integrated data should be readily adaptable to the latest technologies of industry such as IoT, ML, Cloud to excel in the market.
  • Leveraging Big Data means using the collected data to its maximum bound, which is highly complex and massive quantity, more the Data, more the leveraging of business. 

What are the Benefits of Data Integration?

The whole data management system has a nucleus cover called data integration. It is essential to carry out any expected result. If any system goes through the discussed methodologies, they are expected to taste numerous fruitful benefits.
  •  Better Collaboration and deployment
  •  Availability of real-time integrated data
  •  Data from multiple distributed sources
  •  Helps in achieving better partnerships and customer relationships
  •  Saves Time, Boosts Efficiency, and Reduces Errors
  •  Making Excellent Business Decisions
  •  Consider Adaptability, Reliability, and Reusability as one of the key benefits.

Use Cases of Data Integration

Data Integration in Data Mining

We operate on the existing data from the database and try to bring out all the necessary information from that raw data, it is Data Mining. The pre-processor to fetch data from multiple distributed sources is called Data Integration. Then these are stored in a structured manner in the database and using that database. There are two approaches for data integration, namely Tight Coupling  - In this, the data warehouse is assumed as an interface that retrieves information using the ETL(Extract, Transform, and Load) operations from multiple targets into a single centralized location. Loose Coupling  - An predefined interface is provided that manipulates and transforms queries so that the root storage can understand and ensure no temporary storage is done. Everything acts in the source database only.

Data Integration in Data Warehousing

Data integration is one of the significant aspects of Data Warehousing. At the highest level, if we talk about Data Warehousing, it is nothing but the innovation, manipulation, and mapping practices to match the correct set of requested data with the data to be forwarded as a response to the end-user. ETL(Extract, Transform and Load) is a significant data integration component in data warehousing. The most well-known implementation of data warehousing is building a data warehouse for the enterprise side. The data warehouse is all about internal operations. But the constraint is that all the integration operations and management are completely external to the organization. To bring them as a collective unit without any redundancy, we can use data integration as a local-as-a-view approach. Each table in the database is used as a globally defined source to a corporate view.
Lack of visualization of Data Migration in Real-Time to monitor the load and throughput of Data Pipeline is the biggest challenge. Source: ETL Solutions, Data Migration and Integration

Data Integration in Business Intelligence(BI)

Business Intelligence is the set of operations done to bring out useful information from the raw data available. It helps make better business decisions, predictive analysis, identifying data clusters, and managing business processes. Additionally, it supports developing better communication to collaborate effectively and support decision-making pointers for better outcomes. First, collect and integrate the data with the data warehouse, where it goes under various manipulations. The valuable data obtained is held under multiple BI tools to support the data analysis. Consider BI Tools as Decision support systems (DSS) tools as they allow the business members to make analyses and extract useful information. Sometimes it gets complicated as one really would feel that everything is the same, and there's no key difference among the impact of data integration in mining, warehouse, and business intelligence. The critical link among these is that for everything to work out efficiently, the top priority is data integration. 

Conclusion 

From business processes to analytics, warehouses, and anything that is either way directly or indirectly dependant on Data, is nothing without data integration. So, organizations should have complete knowledge and access to every Source to grow as a collective unit.

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