Chapter 3. Performance Insight 53
3.3.1 Data integration
Most companies have done relatively little integration between their business
processes and business intelligence. This is primarily because the enterprise
process applications have traditionally been delivered by ERP vendors and
middleware companies, and business intelligence has been delivered by
specialized BI vendors. So, there has been less opportunity for the possibility of
such integration. In addition, the data management and business process
development activities have been in completely different departments or areas of
the organization, limiting the interaction and incentive for integration.
Technology to the rescue! This integration is becoming easier with such
initiatives as service oriented architecture. Integration can now be accomplished
even with loosely coupled application environments. SOA has enabled the
creation of easy to use process and business intelligence services that can be
used without having to fully understand the underlying implementation details or
having detailed domain knowledge.
Note that we are not saying that integration is now easy. We did say it is
becoming easier. But there are still challenges, for example, the integration of
process data with business intelligence data. This is because correlating data
from a real-time process with data that has gone through several transformations
prior to being stored in a data warehouse can present a challenge.
One example of such a challenge is when product or customer numbers differ.
But, there is help here as well. Master Data Management (MDM) has made this
significantly easier because it enables you to share a single master data set
across business processes and the data warehouse. This is another reason you
should be actively implementing MDM, if you are not already doing so.
We also have better tools for accessing and integrating data from multiple
heterogeneous data environments and for moving closer to a real-time data
environment. For example, you can accomplish this through the use of tools such
as WebSphere Message Broker (Enterprise Service Bus) for providing a
common structure for data delivery, or, with WebSphere Information Integration.
This enables you to access heterogeneous data sources as though they were
DB2. Using WebSphere MQ for enabling a continuous flow of data into the
enterprise data warehouse can also help you move toward real time.
Another strategy is the expanded use of an operational data store (ODS), which
can be used to keep more real-time operational data, which is then joined with
data from the enterprise data warehouse.
There are many techniques and technologies available from IBM to help you in
these integration activities. The time to move is now.