Apps integration challenges companies

A high-level executive responsible for data integrity can help a company struggling to connect its ever-changing array of computer systems to formalize its application integration processes.

According to Laurie Newman, regional manager of Informatica, which opened its first Australian office this week in Sydney, demand for integration is building because companies are creating complicated application ecosystems.

Newman said this demand will drive the company's local prospects, noting that it had already developed relationships with 60 customers through previous distributors and had grown sales more than 30 percent over the last year. Informatica now operates in 44 countries.

While companies have generally come to appreciate the importance of integration, Newman says many more still don't understand its heritage and, therefore, the potential inconsistencies between data sets that can affect the accuracy and relevance of later business reports.

"Data lineage is a fundamental part of a meta data management strategy," he said. "Some companies start off on the right foot, but others struggle with this for years before they can actually see a direction. The fundamental success factor within a large organization is nominating someone to own this responsibility, then rolling out [support] by setting up an integration competency centre."

Evolutionary growth has meant that many companies have numerous silos of corporate information, each with its own business chief. Integration tools such as Informatica's PowerCenter - and similar products from competitors like Tibco and Viewlocity - have had some success in providing technical bridges between the silos, but high-level executive support would complement that technology by recognizing the importance of data management from a business perspective.

By formally tracking, documenting and sharing information about corporate information sources, Newman says the competency centre, like the person serving as its advocate to the rest of the business, would play a fundamental role in ongoing IT strategy by building a body of knowledge around integration best practice. That body of knowledge - a kind of genealogical record of the company's data sources - could speed future integration exercises and avoid data territorialism by clarifying data pedigrees for the long term.

"For the last 25 years, we've automated everything," Newman says. "The next wave of growth will be in managing that data so you understand where it is, where it comes from and where it goes."

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