- “There were 5 Exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days.” –Google CEO, Eric Schmidt
- “The amount of digital information increases tenfold every five years.” –The Economist
- “If a single star is a bit of information, there’s a galaxy of information for every person in the world.” –Science Express journal
So where is all this exponential growth coming from? I think it’s safe to say that it’s not being driven by bigger ERP or CRM databases. Rather, it’s the result of the online revolution. Social media platforms, the Internet of Things, highly specialized cloud apps, and other new ways of connecting online are allowing individuals and devices to generate data at a level never seen before.
This flood of data is ultimately a boon, but until businesses wrap their arms around the logistics of wrangling so much data, there are often more questions than answers (and more problems than solutions). The most obvious question is how to efficiently process all this data, and it spurs a lot of talk around exciting Big Data technologies such as Hadoop, MapReduce, or non-relational databases.
Other questions, although perhaps less exciting, are equally important. How can I efficiently integrate the ever-growing numbers of applications and data sources in my enterprise? How can I consolidate and contextualize a wide variety of disparate data in order to produce actionable information? And how do I ensure that quality data is the result?
For starters, the traditional application-centric approach to integration needs to be turned inside out. In an application-centric integration environment:
- Data is locked up in applications and hard to extract
- Applications drive data models and data integration
- Insights and analysis are artificially constrained as a result
- Data enrichment can only be accomplished through application enhancement
Instead, a data-centric approach to integration needs to be taken. In a data-centric integration environment, data is freed from the constraints of applications, allowing it to play a much bigger role in your enterprise than that of application artifact.
How? Well, rather than merely move data from one system to another, a data-centric approach additionally consolidates and stores (ideally in a repository that employs all the new Big Data technologies mentioned above) all iterations of the data, along with robust metadata, as it flows across your enterprise. By elegantly folding this critical new data management operation into the equation, you suddenly have a ready source of cleansed and harmonized data at your fingertips. Gone are the days of having to tediously dig through and cobble together information from ever-growing numbers of applications just to answer a single use case.
So if you’re looking to round up and take control of the data that’s out there—and there’s clearly no shortage of it—I recommend that you start investigating the possibilities of a data-centric approach to integration. It’s the perfect trailhead from which to begin realizing data’s limitless potential to change the market space—and your enterprise’s position within it. Giddyup!
(If you’d like to learn more about data-centric integration, I presented a 30-minute webinar on the topic earlier this year. It’s titled Put Your Data in the Driver’s Seat with a Data-Centric IT Approach and the recording of it is available for on-demand viewing from our website.)