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Navigating Data Integration Modernization

By April 11, 2020 August 4th, 2020 No Comments

Many forward-thinking organizations today are commissioning digital transformation projects which seek to integrate digital technology across an organization’s entire IT ecosystem. Done correctly, an organization would be able to extract many operational efficiencies in the new environment while building a competitive advantage and enhancing the user experience by providing a more unified and holistic gateway to core applications.

Before an organization launches any digital transformation project, it should recognize that project success will be driven largely by how well the underlying data is consolidated and made available for consumption by applications. If the data is not synced and compatible across databases, administrators will need to resort to manual, labor-intensive reporting tasks using spreadsheets that can expose human error. Therefore, it is a best practice to begin a digital transformation project by tackling data requirements first. There will be significant benefits to the organization once the data is integrated because manual tasks will be able to be automated and employees will be enabled to focus on higher-value tasks.

There are three prominent data modernization trends in the marketplace today:

  1. Cloud application development is enabling organizations to modernize legacy applications and shift to cloud-based applications that are facilitated by agile development processes that can yield significant decreases in project timelines.
  2. Data warehouse modernization. Most organizations continue to struggle with dated data warehouses which were predicated on largely structured data with predictable and low workloads. Since then, data volume has spiked significantly so that a modern platform is now required to enable an agile response to automating the extraction, transformation, and loading process.
  3. Recent advances in compute power, communication protocols, and Internet of Things (IoT) are making it possible to collect and analyze large amounts of data in real-time without requiring manual human intervention. Next generation analytics and technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are creating a business requirement to quickly aggregate large volumes of structured and unstructured data into a consolidated platform that can optimize the decision-making process.

Digital and data transformation projects begin with an internal audit that canvasses all IT assets to get a fundamental snapshot of how data is being captured, stored, and repurposed. This represents the current state of data flow within the organization. To facilitate this exercise, the organization will need to consider current businesses processes and workflows, and then assess data entry and exit points within applications. With the completion of the audit, the organization can then make an informed strategic plan based on it’s understanding of the data.

The data modernization journey can clearly yield tangible and measurable financial and operational benefits to any organization as noted above. Given that these initiatives are truly transformative, it’s incumbent on the organization to carefully review the qualifications of a data modernization consulting partner to ensure that a competent partner is selected who can guarantee success. Therefore, to undertake a data transformation project with internal resources only or to select an ineffective partner is tantamount to putting the organization’s entire data at risk.

ACI Infotech is a US-based business transformation strategic consultant and systems integrator with several notable data transformation projects delivered to reputable higher education clients. The following two case studies highlight the innovative solutions ACI implemented.

Case Study 1

ACI Infotech was hired by a university to lead a large-scale data transformation project in which a robust data architecture was implemented to enable the university to become a data driven organization.

Specifically, ACI was tasked to ingest ERP data (i.e. Banner, Access DBs, Excel datasets) along

with data from external systems and unstructured sources (i.e. logs, social media, IoT, etc.,) into a data lake so that a consolidated view of the enterprise data could facilitate analytics and reporting initiatives. The resulting modern data architecture would allow the business users to perform strategic, tactical and operational reporting by doing multi-dimensional analysis on the data combined from disparate data sources across the enterprise.

ACI adhered to the following methodology to shape its solution delivery:

  • Streamline data sources by ingesting disparate data from all data stores within project scope.
  • Standardize data definitions and create a data dictionary so that a consistent interpretation of all roles and tasks across departments became available.
  • Automate data loads of manually created and maintained data sheets to achieve compliance with a modern data ecosystem.
  • Design and develop a warehouse or data lake supporting various business functions and groups.

Case Study 2

A university with a lack of data integration across mission critical applications, absence of a centralized architecture view, and poorly defined workflows hired ACI Infotech to lead a data transformation project.

The project produced substantial benefits to the university whereby it was now able to access

critical data in an expedited manner, achieve enhanced reliance and accuracy on business intelligence reporting, and realize superior query and system performance.

ACI delivered the following solutions in support of the project:

  • Built a centralized data repository by cleaning and aggregating data from various systems including transactional, internal, external, and legacy applications.
  • Created a business definition document that established clear and standard roles and digital privileges for all active students and employees.
  • Architected a common data model and built curated data marts for the centralized data repository.
  • Leveraged the central data warehouse to develop robust reporting capabilities into a single business intelligence reporting platform.

Please contact your ACI Infotech account manager to schedule a free consultation on how true value can be delivered to your data transformation project.

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