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Getting more out of your systems through data integration

All your systems — CRM, website, accounting package, etc. — contain extremely valuable information. But for many companies (maybe most?), these are islands of information, between which communication is like a row boat paddling its way from one island to the next. Maybe it’s an exported CSV file that paddles your latest customer information from your CRM over to your accounting system. But however it happens, it takes time, mistakes happen too easily, and it’s a one way trip — any changes made on the accounting island makes have a hard time making it back to the CRM island. Data integration solves this.

Before networks, the information islands were physically disconnected, but in effect not much has changed. Using the network to transfer the CSV file to the other computer instead of a floppy disk is no real gain when the real work is getting the data into the target system without making a mess. And usually only one person really knows how to do that, so when Bob is on vacation the whole process takes vacation too.

If your company is really big there’s no problem, you can spend the pile-o-cash to get the fully customized integrated six-ways-to-Sunday solution. Let’s focus on solving this for everyone else.

Most system now have ways to send and receive data in a structured manner, it may be an API (application programming interface) or web service, which means that a programmer can write some code to talk to the application instead of using the user interface. If two systems have these data pathways, it’s possible to create a connector so information can be shared automatically. Of course, the more systems you have that you want talking together, the more programming has to be done, and it can get a little gnarly, but the end result, if done with thought and planning, can save lots of time, errors and headaches. The islands are now connected in the ways that makes sense your business, and Bob can go on vacation whenever he wants.