Lobster Loading

Ten points for automated data integration

Anyone currently looking for a software specialist likely has one of the hardest jobs in the world. Despite the many excellent workers, according to Bitkom, there are far too few in the long term.

At around 82,000 vacancies in Germany, according to a trade association study from late 2018 (PDF), 59 percent of companies have stated: the staff shortage will increase in the future.

The issue is that Most IT staff today have well-paid jobs, work in a comfortable environment, enjoy a great social standing and a whole range of other amenities from a car and working from home to a secure future in the form of company pension schemes. Willingness to change is correspondingly low. Simply recruiting more as a solution concept thus only works to a limited extent in the age of high-pressure digitisation.

This means that if you wish to keep pressing ahead with digital projects, you have to change your way of thinking. Other employees must take on IT tasks, for example, to advance the use of technology for the Internet of Things. However, this only works if the tasks previously reserved for specialists are automated, standardised and much easier to use.

The main focus is on data integration. It is the hub of digitisation that ensures that the diverse data is delivered from a variety of sources, compiled as needed, and made available to specific target systems in their respective structure. For digitisation to function in businesses, data integration must be highly flexible, error-free and standardised.

Today, increasing numbers of companies are using state-of-the-art standard software, which is able to automate processes, create transparency, ensure monitoring and react flexibly to ever-evolving IT requirements with configuration instead of programming. Departments and IT are thus able to cooperate in process control and configuration in the best cases.

The following checklist shows you what to consider when looking for the right standard data integration software.

1. SUB – see, understand, begin

Whether intuitive user interface, drag and drop or cut and paste: good data integration software builds on the experiences of users. Simple handling means you simply know what to do. Important for the IT department: How are updates and version changes carried out? Are there automatic routines? And is it easy to install software as a service that simply runs in the cloud and can be docked?

2. Save time

Finishing more quickly should be high on the digitisation list. This means all work steps build on each other clearly. In this case, it helps to check the following: How many steps are required to integrate data from one system to another? How much time is required to set up a new partner or customer? Avoid systems that require error-prone intermediate steps through other systems.

3. Check the system load

Digitisation today means processing high and ever-increasing volumes of data. As a result, you must carry out a load test. How many data records can your system actually process? What kind of stress does this place on other systems? Allow plenty of room for improvement.

4. One for all

In the past, different systems were required for different integration issues (for example, EAI, IOT, EDI and ETL). Now, a single tool can carry out all these tasks. With central monitoring for all interfaces. These systems facilitate daily task management for your employees.

5. Configuring instead of programming

Special programming expertise used to be a requirement for data integration. Interfaces were programmed and changed as needed. This involved excessive time and expense. And it was often non-transparent. Nowadays, modern software allows employees from various departments to implement data integration via configuration. IT specialists and employees from different departments are thus able to share tasks according to their expertise, and IT departments are delighted to have a lightened workload.

6. Always at the cutting edge

There are two main issues when it comes to interfaces programmed for isolated cases: They only meet one requirement. Specific programming knowledge is required for maintenance as well as any desired modifications and updates. Every change thus generates excessive time and cost expenditures. Standard software enables a significantly improved cost-benefit ratio here. This applies to data integration particularly in view of all current industry standards. Are employees thus able to access the almost 10,000 different templates in their current form if needed?

7. Compare total costs

Compare the cost-benefit ratios for standard software and isolated applications, but also for different providers. Here, license costs and service packages generate significant cost positions. Are models easy to understand and transparent? You should also keep future costs in mind. Does introduction involve lengthy development steps or are you able to save a lot of time because you only need a test system and production system? Does your chosen software allow a quick start as a web application without lengthy installations on your own server? And is your data still secured in your own environment if desired? Which internal and external expenditures will you face if processes change? How much training is required? Which tasks can you then actually undertake yourself? Do updates and upgrades involve costs? And will there be investments due to hardware requirements?

8. Without dependencies

Are you trapped in a supplier system after purchase or is the system independent of manufacturer? Are you independent from service providers (cost/time factor) and from operating systems?

9. Service or wasteland?

Test the customer hotline yourself. One call, a few complex questions, and you’ll know if you’re entering a knowledge wasteland. Furthermore: Is there precise documentation? And are there, for example, YouTube videos with instructions to aid self-learners?

10. Gather recommendations

Ask someone who has already implemented your chosen software and service. Promotional brochures, website information and statements from sales staff can be of interest. Case studies on the website with customer statements are a sign of good work and trust. The telephone numbers of satisfied customers document that the company and its product are well established on the market.