Data integration means integrating data from more than one system. In practice, that usually means combining a system like Salesforce or another CRM, with an ERP system.
Data Integrating systems means that people in your business can access accurate, real-time data gathered by one system, in another.
Why is this important? Success in business is built on data. Data is what businesses use to make forecasts, contact customers and develop new services. Data integration facilitates all of this.
What happens without data integration
Data integration is a crucial step in connecting teams and individuals. People need to share information regularly if they’re going to do their jobs well. Without data integration, information can still be shared, but it is done on an ad-hoc basis, with no guarantee of accuracy.
For example, you might hold your customers’ financial data in your ERP system. But what if one of your sales team wants to see it? Without data integration, they’d need to ask someone from another team to give them the information.
If this kind of request was happening frequently, you might put a formal system in place for copying information between the two systems.
Neither is a good solution to the problem of data sharing. Both mean that errors are possible, and even likely. Human error always happens, simply because we’re humans.
If you don’t have data integration and rely on manual copying or sharing of data, then the inevitable mistakes can damage your business. You might, for example, get one customer’s records confused with another customer’s with a similar name – A.
Sharp and A Sharpe, say. That’s likely to be embarrassing at the very least, and could see you landed with a fine and serious reputational damage if you end up being reported for a data breach.
What happens with data integration
Data integration means that when someone enters data in one system, it becomes instantly available in the system (or systems) that have been integrated with it. There’s no need for team members to ask each other for information or rely on spreadsheets. It’s all a mouse click away.
What does all this mean in practice? With the risks of manual data copying eliminated and data readily available to those who need it, several things happen.
- Teams and individuals trust each other and can work together more readily. Relying on others for crucial information can easily lead to mistrust and frustration, even if mistakes aren’t made.
- It becomes easier to spot opportunities, as people from different teams may have fresh ideas on how to use data gathered by others.
- You save money on training, as staff only need to use one system.
- You save time on data entry.
- You’re able to see more easily what works and what doesn’t in your business, and plan for the future accordingly.
Data integration has become an essential part of doing business. While startups might survive without it, any business with multiple systems and teams needs to integrate if they’re to reach their full potential.