We meet with a lot of small and medium sized enterprises (“SME”) and talk with them about how they are trying to use their data. We also learn from them a great deal about their data integration issues. Very often we find they are struggling to find a way to integrate data from across their company, quickly and cost effectively, into a single database for easy access and use.
Why the difficulty?
Over time, their software environments have become more complex as they operate more applications and move to configurations that include a greater proportion of cloud-based software. This has significantly raised the degree of difficulty for successful data integration, as it now requires being able to seamlessly access and integrate data from applications and databases that can reside in-cloud or on-premise. A developer must deal with the fact each data source has a different data schema, format, security model and other unique characteristics that need to be navigated. Sometimes it is best to pull data via APIs, but at other times going direct to an application’s underlying database is more effective.
In addition, the integration requirements are always changing: in a world of agile software development a new version of an application may be released every month, often requiring the associated integration to be updated as well. If real time aggregation is needed across multiple sources, this creates an additional layer of complexity, as traditional Extract Transform Load (“ETL”) tools are not naturally designed for this. A consequence of this new complexity is that the IT team of a SME rarely has the dedicated personnel, expertise or tools to integrate the data they want in an efficient and cost-effective way. Instead, they do their best to get by, with their existing tools and staff, writing patches of code and copying files to integrate a small subset of the data they really want to work with.
To address this issue Accur8 has developed a turnkey “Data Integration as a Service” (DIaaS) solution in which we integrate a company’s data from its many data sources into a single, easy to access, database and make it securely available for any authorized use. The database can be located in-cloud or on-premise according to the customer’s needs, and can be created from data residing in a just a few–or many—of the business’s applications and databases.
Importantly, as part of the monthly service, Accur8 is responsible for integrating the data, as well as operating the database and hardware platforms they run on. This means a company gets all of the benefits of a leading data integration solution without having to burden scarce in-house resources to do so. Equally important, by leveraging the DIaaS solution, existing integration tools can continue to be used, further reducing cost and retraining requirements. The integrated database is SQL-based, so its data is easily accessible by existing applications and tooling.
The following are some of the capabilities our Integration Engine enables and are offered as part of the service.
- Integrate data in real time, event driven or scheduled as required. Real time updating is the growing preference as it means your integrated data is always up to date. For example, if a customer makes a purchase through your online e-commerce software it is recorded in your integrated database immediately. Real- time updating represents a significant improvement over most integration tools such as “Extract Transform Load” (ETL), which have typically only offered periodic updating capabilities. This limitation reduces the value of the integrated data, since availability of the latest information always lags behind.
- Call data by individual record or batch. Record level integration capabilities allows for efficient data flow and are helpful with software as a service (SaaS) applications where vendors charge extra if monthly query volumes exceed predefined thresholds.
- Bidirectional Synchronization. Changes to the integrated database can be automatically written back to source databases. For example, if a field is modified in one application, such as an address change in your CRM system, with our DIaaS solution, the integrated database can be set to update other data sources such as the ERP system. In this way data can be automatically updated across your organization, without any additional work on your part.
- Strong Security: We provide you secure access to the integrated database using a state of the art security model that allows you to set users access to data in a fine- or coarse-grained way and includes full audit capabilities.
- Master Data Management: As you start to aggregate all of your data in one place Accur8 tooling enables custom views to be built of various fields across multiple data sources so they can be compared and evaluated for housekeeping, cleansing and de-duplication purpose
The following is an illustration shows you how much easier our Data Integration as a Service makes life for an IT department.
- State of the art integration without the resource requirement. SMEs are focused on delivering great products and services, not on building out extensive IT expertise and resources. Our service provides all of the advantages of leading edge integration without the resource and staff burden.
- Unlock the Value of Your Data. With your data integrated it can be easily accessed and delivered for consumption across your organization, enabling:
- Superior reporting & analytics: Simply plug your existing reporting software into the integrated database to glean new insights that can be shared across the organization
- Improve existing applications: The integrated database can feed existing applications in real time to improve their capabilities. For example, to provide a more holistic view of the customer a call center application can be easily coded to retrieve a range of extra data directly from the integrated database rather than needing to integrate with each underlying application directly.
- Deliver data where needed: Whether sales or operations, cross-sectional data can be easily delivered from the integrated database to users in various formats ranging from spreadsheet to .pdf to make staff more productive.
- No change to your existing tools. Typically if a company upgrades their data integration capabilities they need to make a wholesale change to their tooling. Our DIaaS solution allows you to continue to use your existing tools and knowledge.
- Improved data quality. When integrating data a company often gets the first holistic view of their data and that can highlight inconsistencies and duplications. With Accur8’s solution this can be used as an opportunity to cleanse and update that data across all of its applications.
- Significant cost savings. Our DIaaS service offers companies tremendous savings in staffing and investment to set up and maintain an in-house integrated database. We have solutions starting at $1,000 per month.
To summarize, data integration has become complex and many SME’s do not have the cycle time or resources to do tackle it in the way they want. Accur8 offers a Data Integration as a Service solution that leverages our Integration Engine and expertise to provide you state of the art integration capabilities. It allows your company to quickly punch above its weight in data integration at a great price point without having to incur the resources.