Data Integration

What is data integration and why is it important?

Data integration is a complex process in which data from a company’s various data sources and IT systems is merged, improved, enriched and cleaned. The uniform presentation of this data then provides insight into all the available data. The raw data can then be analysed and turned into smart data for commercial or other use. This Wiki explains data integration. 

Why data integration?

Many systems produce a wide range of data entered by many different employees. Such fragmentation dramatically increases the risk of errors in the use of customer data. Data integration ensures that data is updated and maintained in the same way, often centrally. It also allows different types of data to be integrated, thus improving efficiency.

By integrating customer and financial data, employees no longer need to manually check a customer’s credit rating[1]. Furthermore, all the relevant information relating to this customer immediately becomes accessible to everyone within the organisation. This means that sales receives the right information, improving negotiations on the terms of delivery and ensuring ‘safer’ agreements with customers. Ultimately, this reduces bad debt and disputes because everyone has access to the same up-to-date financial information.

What’s more, 20% of all data in company databases is liable to change. A direct link to a specialist company information centre always provides the latest information.

The advantages of data integration

  • Up to date customer data always available
  • Fewer margins for error in customer data
  • Faster business processes and communication based on integration into internal systems
  • Direct insight into financial customer information from any system

Who benefits from data integration?

  • Marketing: immediate access to up to date company information, less waste of money due to incorrect contact information
  • Sales: insight into up to date credit information improves negotiations on terms of delivery
  • Finance: access to up to date credit information speeds up the credit assessment process. Correct invoicing details always available
  • Customers: always contacted with correct information at the correct address

Master Data Management

Data integration is about cleaning and enriching data but Master Data Management takes it one step further. Master Data is a unique key within a database. All these keys are saved to a central master data file and all databases of the company are subsequently linked to this master data file. If there are updates to the master data file, all databases are automatically updated. This improves efficiency and reduces the risk of error.

Master Data Management is about managing master data centrally in the organisation. This prevents the proliferation of incorrect data in different separate systems. This sounds logical and simple - but in reality it is not. Companies often insufficiently recognise that incorrect master data can have serious consequences to their business operations while correct data can bring multiple benefits.

Developing a single central environment which communicates with all the separate systems links all the systems. If anything changes in finance, it is automatically updated in sales and vice versa. The Master Data environment is therefore always correct and up to date, making it possible to produce reliable reports. In this context, carefully monitoring changes is essential, both in internal and external data sources. 

Good data integration ensures that all your available data is correct.

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