Today, data-driven business intelligence is not only a possibility for everyone: it’s a necessity. Whether you’re a small e-commerce startup or an established manufacturing company, the proliferation of relevant data generated by modern digital technologies offers an unprecedented opportunity to gain insight into how to improve your business. Now with the introduction of Wave, the new Salesforce Analytics Platform, it’s easy for companies of any size to get immediate insights from their data without dedicated IT specialists manipulating and running queries on large data sets.
The question then is not whether to implement a business intelligence solution, but how to get the most powerful analytics from the solution. Truly transformative analytics has the ability to optimize every aspect of your business, so it’s important your BI solution touches every part of the organization. This means integrating data from every key business app and bringing it together on a single platform.
Effective Analytics is Built on a Foundation of Fully Integrated Data
Ultimately, your intelligence will only be as good as the data you’re building from. For example If only a small part of the sales team is using Salesforce, the insight you get from analyzing that data is going to be weak at best, and at worst could be downright misleading. Imagine only your most successful salespeople are entering data, while lower performers are skipping this task. Analyzing based on these inputs alone may give you a picture of a healthy, well-performing sales department, while the reality may be the opposite.
Just as businesses need to ensure entire departments fully align on one solution to get the best results, truly powerful analytics requires data from across the enterprise, not just one department, database or business process. Companies today have access to data from thousands of endpoints, but this data is often siloed among different applications, both on-premise and in the cloud. Many Salesforce customers still have a majority of their enterprise data stored in many other applications, including systems of record like SAP and Oracle. They need to figure out how to access this valuable information for in-depth analysis. To get comprehensive business intelligence, companies must put in place a strategy to integrate data from all of their applications so that it is consistent, complete and available in one place.
Three-Step Strategy For Effective Data Integration
Though companies may use a wide variety of applications that run on-premise behind a firewall, or on a private or public cloud, getting data from across the organization onto a single platform boils down three basic steps.
The first step in effective data integration involves connecting key business applications. Because companies employ a growing number of applications to handle different business processes — with more being adopted each day — it’s important to use an agile integration strategy. Integration-as-a-Service solutions can connect apps faster than a custom coding approach, which also requires companies to invest more in maintenance.
Once you connect all key enterprise applications, the next step is to harmonize data from different endpoints so it can be analyzed together. This means standardizing both structured and unstructured data in a consistent format, validating the information, and checking for bad quality data.
Synchronization is the final step of effective data integration. Once you have a strategy in place to connect your applications and generate consistent, high-quality data, you still need to make sure that this information is being transmitted on a schedule that suits your analytics needs. Whether through batch or real-time, ongoing synchronization ensures that your analytics solution is able to compare data from different sources correctly over time.
Integrated data from across the organization amplifies the power of your analytics, delivering a broader – and more accurate — view of your business. Instead of limiting analytics to single divisions or business processes, such as sales, marketing, or inventory management, effective data integration provides insight that can bridge the gaps and uncover innovative ways to transform your business.
Salesforce made a splash at Dreamforce with the release of Wave Analytics Connect — what’s your integration strategy to ride it?
Originally posted on the Salesforce Blog.