Paving A Smooth Road To BI Integration

September 25, 2013   //   News

With its connotation of lengthy timelines and massive expense, “integration” is a word that sends chills down the spines of many manufacturers’ IT managers. And it’s a word that comes up often in the context of a business integration (BI) implementation. Unless a BI integration connects that tool with the core systems – namely, ERP – it will be difficult to access the data to gain the insights needed to improve business performance.

Traditional systems integration generally involves the use of a middleware layer situated between the systems to be integrated – here, BI – and the target system, such as ERP. Middleware was often complex and costly, usually requiring the assistance of a systems integrator to do the heavy lifting. Happily, thanks to Web services and lightweight connectors, today’s integration task can be considerably lighter, according to experts.

Rachael Narel, engagement manager for SWC Technology Partners Inc. in Chicago, calls data integration “one of the biggest challenges” of a BI project. “The ability to integrate data from all these sources is usually where the challenge comes in,” Narel explained.

For example, she said, SWC has worked with manufacturers that needed to connect data from their pipeline management application, as well as supply chain management, customer relationship management and ERP.

Starting the BI Integration Process

Many smaller manufacturers begin with departmental deployments of BI so that they can get a view into how shipping is performing, Narel said. “They build some basic dashboards and out-of-the-box reports, but those are usually restricted to that department. They want to get a bigger business picture,” she said. To achieve this, manufacturers need to bring all of the relevant data together in an operational data store or data warehouse that they can query to reveal latent trends and brewing problems. (continue with full article)

This article, “Paving a Smooth Road to BI Integration,” originally appeared online at TechTarget.