Like the brazen wolf that leads the pack into unexplored territories, systems integrators can lead clients into once-overlooked areas like data integration, enabling businesses to collaborate online by providing access to important data in back-office systems.
The B2B trend toward e-marketplaces requires that data be integrated in order to supply Web-accessible back-office information. Data integration thus is rapidly becoming one of the most important elements for companies to focus on when moving their businesses online.
Consider this: Data integration—as an emerging technology—already has found quite a loyal following, particularly among some of the worlds largest chemical suppliers, manufacturers and technology companies. Given that, it should come as no surprise that leading analysts see this niche hitting $15 billion by 2005.
So, what exactly is data integration?
This apparently necessary technology combines the best of data warehousing and data melding to provide database- level integration from enterprise systems such as customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and legacy applications.
Data integration extracts "heavy" data from enterprise systems, then helps funnel that data to front-end user interfaces where supply-chain managers, procurement executives, and sales, marketing and finance people can get a real-time picture of business activities. Data integration utilizes cache that physically stages data outside the enterprise systems to ensure 24 x 7 availability and rapid response to frequent queries, resulting in reduced business-process cycle times.
One of the beauties of data cache is that it keeps main business computers uninterrupted by e-business. And by leveraging the data residing in the ERP system, data integration allows companies to use it in a way that will help them make wiser business decisions throughout the extended enterprise.
Carol Mills Baldwin is CEO of Acta Technology in Mountain View, Calif. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.