Data, the building blocks for modern enterprises

By Ajit Melarkode, Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan, Boomi

Most of us have played with Lego blocks as a child. With some imagination, we were able to recreate everything from buildings to spaceships – until pieces went missing and the structures could no longer be completed as intended. Similarly, when it comes to building an agile, innovative enterprise to compete in today’s market, if there are missing components, businesses will naturally face challenges.

Companies are investing in new technology to improve operations, streamline processes and become more agile and flexible in the face of market changes. A recent survey by Vanson Bourne found that although 86 percent of IT and business decision-makers in the Asia Pacific region believe that technology will dramatically change the way their organizations operate over the next 10 years, half admit their company is not innovating at a competitive rate.

This is evidence that many organisations are faced with challenges in implementing their modernization initiatives quickly and efficiently. These efforts often fall short of reaching their goals because data is not put at the foundation of the overall modernisation plans. Poor quality, inability to manage massive volumes and siloed data are realities many enterprises face today and each prevents organizations from getting the full value from technology investments.

Before adopting new technologies to drive innovation, IT and business leaders must address the incomplete, incorrect or obsolete data in their organizations, and ensure that it is accessible via a unified platform to the entire organisation in real time. Just like building with Lego, organisations cannot create complete structures without all the building blocks.

Making digital investments count

IT leaders are seeing how the gaps in their data management processes are hindering organizations. Many enterprises embark on ambitious, company-wide digitization projects that are meant to prepare the organization for the next breed of disruption. However, these projects fail due to the extremely siloed nature of enterprise environments and data sources making it difficult for business units within the same organisation to collaborate.

IT teams often do not realize the organisation’s building blocks are incomplete or incorrect until they are working deep into a digital project. At other times, organizations may be too focused on technology as a catch-all to solve any future problems without first understanding the fundamental problems. For example, there is a tendency to view API management as the solution for all data integration issues. Unfortunately, this would be like touting great menu cards in a restaurant as the interface between the kitchen and diners, without resolving any fundamental food quality or customer experience issues.

When data management issues crop up, companies try to apply workarounds with new investments by using a patchwork of middleware and custom coding. This takes up considerable time and resources that could have been allocated to the development of innovative solutions, rather than the management of legacy systems. 

To ensure that digital investments deliver value and bring optimal results, companies need to establish a cohesive data management and integration framework to improve data connectivity throughout the organisation. This needs to start with data cataloguing and preparation and knowing the source, provenance and quality of data being used and then tying these steps to a master data management process.

Focusing on building and improving this data infrastructure will empower organizations to realize the full value of technology investments. Connecting applications and integrating data sources from Day 0, facilitates the flow of correct and high-quality information across the company’s digital ecosystem without the need for retrospective fixes.

Case in point, when a leading energy provider and global power giant based in the Asia Pacific and Japan region wanted to create visibility across its multinational operations, they quickly realized the need for a simpler, more innovative, cloud-first environment for their data management and integration. With the company’s data spread across its complex legacy infrastructure, data integration into a central repository had to be first implemented to improve business intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities. After breaking down data silos, the company paved the way for the adoption of modern technologies in record time.

When planning new digital projects, data management and integration cannot be an afterthought. Before embarking on a digital project, think about whether data is of provenance and quality that can be shared across multiple applications and business units. Also, consider how this data can enhance the value of these investments.

Organizations that demonstrate openness to adopting new technologies and innovative data management practices can expect to perform well in this dynamic new environment. IT leaders gain a competitive edge for their companies by ensuring that the foundation of digitization is properly established. Real-time, high quality data must be available across the organization in order for businesses to thrive. Without these building blocks, companies fall short of creating great corporate structures.

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