The Great Data Merge - InformationWeek
Software // Information Management
01:34 PM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp

The Great Data Merge

Vendors are busy on data integration because they've got a lot of work to do, and they know it.

In years past, when business intelligence was largely a project-by-project affair, it didn't matter if an enterprise's data was spread all over the place. We were, after all, using BI to improve one aspect of the business at a time. Such as it was, it usually worked.

But things have changed. With BI and CRM on the road to becoming enterprise-wide priorities, data has to be more consistent and of higher quality. Ambiguousness, redundancy and inaccuracy are being driven out of the system. "Integration" has become the catchword of the day.

A slew of developments on the vendor side reflects just how critical data integration has become. IBM acquired Venetica to boost its Data Management Group; data integrator Hummingbird partnered with Attunity to improve its ability to pull non-relational data out of mainframes; EMC, one of many firms racing to help companies bring more structure to their unstructured data, debuted content-integration software that will let businesses access unstructured data with their enterprise applications. And that's just the news from the last nine days. You can get a quick rundown on all the latest developments here.

Vendors are busy at work because they've got a lot left to do, and they know it. So urgent is users' desire to integrate their data with their enterprise applications, in fact, that it seems the vendors have been overplaying their capabilities on that score. In our last Business Intelligence Pipeline poll, a surprisingly high portion of our respondents -- 80% -- said that integration between analytics tools and data sources is rarely or never as easy as their vendors told them it would be. Only 8% said it's as easy "most of the time."

So, yes, there's been some exaggeration at work among the vendors. Surprise, surprise. But it's also true that they're working hard to fill in their offerings' integration gaps. It's just a fact that part of the BI practitioner's job, just like the job of most other IT experts, is to separate the real vendor capability wheat from the bogus vendor claim chaff. It's going to stay that way. The good news on the integration front is that we're steadily getting more options, and more real capability, as the months -- and even the days -- unfold.

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