Data integration applied to BI: making data useful for decision making
In this technology-driven world, the influx of data can seem overwhelming, if not properly utilized. With data coming in from so many different sources, the only way to extract real insights from these raw inputs is through integration.
Properly integrated data has a trickle-down effect on all business processes, such as sales, vendor acquisition, customer management, business intelligence, etc. Implementing this level of integration enables businesses to make continuous improvements to their products and services.
Business intelligence (BI) is one of the most significant data integration use cases. An effective BI process incorporates everything from predictive analytics to reporting and operations management. But this sort of comprehensive analytics framework requires integrated enterprise data to identify process inefficiencies, missed opportunities, and other improvement areas.
What complicates BI integration?
Given that enterprise information comes from different sources in varying formats and often contains inconsistencies, duplicates, and errors, users must ensure that quality issues identified during the data extraction process do not propagate to their end results. These unchecked outputs impact the integrity and accuracy of reporting, which in turn negatively influences decision making leading to further inefficiencies across business processes.
Creating well-defined integration processes that not only consolidate data but standardize it for consistency and quality can make high-quality data readily available for decision making.
Streamlining BI integration: best practices
Raw data becomes valuable when transformed into analytics-ready, actionable information. By bringing disparate formats together into a unified data repository, an integrated BI system offers better visibility and efficiency into the enterprise assets.
Therefore, successful BI initiatives are a combination of an effective integration and analytics strategy. The best practices stated below can help you make the best of it:
Document a BI strategy
Every business has a reporting process in place. Before implementing a new BI strategy, it’s important to evaluate existing systems to identify the areas that need improvement. Based on that information, you can design a new strategy, which can include several components depending on your specific business structure. However, the major ones that cannot be ignored include the following:
- Narrow down the data source channels essential for your reporting process. This may consist of stakeholder or departmental information from databases, files, or web sources.
- The purpose of BI tools is essential to track business KPIs with supporting data. Therefore, identifying the custom KPIs for your organization is imperative in presenting a broad picture of your business growth and losses.
- Set a format for reporting: visual or textual. Based on your preferences and the input sources, you can select a vendor for the BI system.
Set up data integration tools
The integration stage of the entire process will be time-consuming. You can go about it in two ways:
- Opt for the manual approach, where you rely on your developers and IT team to develop a BI architecture for your custom requirements.
- The simpler and faster approach would be to buy an enterprise-ready integration solution from the market. These solutions extract data from different sources using built-in connectors, transform it into the required format, and load into the destination system that is connected to BI tools. Several data integration solutions offer out-of-the-box connectivity to BI tools. Therefore, purchasing a data integration solution would serve the dual purpose of integration and reporting.
Factor in data security
Setting up security measures before implementing BI is imperative in protecting your information assets against data breaches. By configuring authorization or authentication protocols and outlining procedures to carry out secure data processes, you can control access to data sets.
BI is no longer a privilege for enterprises, it’s a necessity that enables organizations to stay ahead of the competition and optimize decision-making.
Identifying the challenges in their reporting journey and implementing the best practices mentioned above will help organizations leverage the BI capabilities and become data-focused.
Author: Ibrahim Surani