Your Guide to Scalable Data

Unlock, Analyze, and Act on Your Data

Time to Read: 13 Minutes
 

Data is not just nice to have.

There couldn’t be a more accurate statement to describe the evolving role of data analytics.

In our all-digital, multi-channel world, digital business has become an imperative shift. Across teams, data analytics is now a necessary core function to drive business growth. To solve the complex problems organizations face today, leaders need a scalable data strategy to increase business agility.

Pervasive use of data analytics can help teams make smart decisions fast and with more accuracy than ever before, while eliminating blockers that impede collaboration. IT leaders, specifically, are in a unique position to unlock data in ways that transform how teams create and deliver rich experiences for themselves and their customers. 

Think of data as a trusted teammate who proactively tells you when there is a problem, instantly answers your questions, and helps you automate business processes to close the loop from insight to action.”

— Francois Ajenstat, Chief Product Officer at Tableau

Successful IT leaders should view this new frontier of data integration as an opportunity for innovation across their business, from marketing and sales to service and planning and beyond. This playbook shows the power of data to speed up your organization’s digital transformation. It brings together product capabilities to address how CIOs like you can unlock, analyze, and act on your data to drive growth at every level of their business.

Before we get started, let’s establish a working definition of data integration.

 

What is data integration?

A. Data integration is a group of technical and business processes used to combine data from disparate sources into meaningful and valuable information. Data may live in different parts of one system, or it may live in multiple systems that are managed by different vendors. Regardless of the original data source, data integration is automated and streamlines the process of requesting and combining data into a unified data set that can be accessed by other applications or systems.
 
 
 
 

9 of 10

IT leaders say that these data silos create business challenges.
But, unlocking your data can transform your business. By taking the right integration approach, you can extract the full value of your data and apply insights to grow your business.
 

What is data integration in data analytics?

A. Data integration makes it possible to view live data from multiple sources in one central location for real-time analysis. End users typically access a unified data set through an application interface, such as an analytics dashboard, that helps them understand and use the data to develop actionable insights.
 

What is ETL data integration?

A. Often, data needs to be reformatted (or “transformed”) in order for it to be combined and used. The term “ETL” stands for “extract, transform, load” —  basically the process of taking data from multiple sources, ensuring that it meets certain requirements, and then loading it into a destination application or interface. For example, let’s say that you want to combine historical data that lives in multiple external databases. In order for that data to be loaded cleanly into your analytics interface, some formatting must be adjusted, such as changing the order of “day/month/year” to “month/day/year.”
 

How is data integration done?

A. IT teams often integrate data between systems using an integration platform like MuleSoft that provides prebuilt components, such as connectors or templates, established integration patterns, and management tools. However, when a custom solution is needed, data integration APIs provide developers with the most flexibility, as well as simplicity and speed.

API-led integration is the key to unlocking your data

When integrating data sets, most organizations default to writing custom code. While this may appear to be the faster solution, relying on point-to-point integrations will create technical debt. Your IT teams will take on more complexity, shifting their focus from innovation to maintenance.

So, what’s the alternative? It’s a standardized way to connect data and applications with reusable, composable APIs designed to perform a specific role, such as unlocking data, composing data into processes, or delivering an experience — API-led integration. With this approach, teams can unlock a data set once and empower others throughout the organization to use that data in their own experiences, resulting in 3x faster project delivery and a 63% reduction in maintenance costs.

 
 

Customer Story

LendingTree

 

LendingTree built a complete view of their customer, helping them deliver highly personalized experiences.

LendingTree used MuleSoft to integrate customer information housed in multiple systems to give service representatives a holistic picture of their customers, so they could provide more personalized experiences.

Read why unlocking data was a vital step for LendingTree to transform their business.

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What’s the future of IT?

 
 
Here are the ways to bring API-led integration best practices into your organization and set your business up for future growth and success.

Build Layers of APIs

Start by building APIs that unlock data from all of your systems. Once all of your data is available, create APIs that layer on top of the existing foundation of data to transform it and support end-state use cases. For example, additional APIs can be used to orchestrate your data into functional blocks, such as integrating SAP and Salesforce data into a single block of customer data.

The final layer of APIs will power the experiences you want this data to feed into, such as an analytics platform, a mobile app for customers, or a website for employees.

Implement Layered Security

Data integration can only be successful when data security is a priority, especially when integrating sensitive customer data, financial data, or regulated data categories. Any breach, large or small, will destroy customer trust and deteriorate many of your larger data strategy goals.

Data security starts with eliminating vulnerabilities. Most of this functionality should exist in your integration platform, including mandatory policy configuration, tokenization, and network edge protection.

You should look to implement layered API security, meaning there is security around the perimeter within which the API is deployed, around the API itself, and on the data at rest and in transit. 

Establish Ongoing API Management

Once you deploy a new API, it’s essential to manage it closely. Some common API management best practices include setting alerts, configuring access management, and defining SLA tiers. 

Make sure to track API usage in case you need to calibrate data governance and access down the line.

Monitor the Health of Your Network

Regardless of how perfectly built your APIs are, issues are bound to arise, and you must resolve them quickly. No matter where you host your APIs or what technologies you run them on, make sure you can monitor them all and assess issues in real time. As your organization invests in more APIs, having a single place to monitor all your APIs and integrations, and track the health of your entire network, will become increasingly important.
 

of organizations leveraging APIs experience increased productivity.

 

saw increased innovation.

 
 

Don’t leave data silos on the back burner

The amount of data that organizations produce continues to grow. To stay competitive and meet evolving customer needs, organizations recognize the need to unlock data to better leverage key insights. But not every integration platform is that same, and it’s not just about connecting data. It’s about doing it the right way, and that starts with an API-led approach to integrating data to drive business success. When you are considering different integration solutions, it’s important to consider how the vendor will help you:
 
 
Get started fast and see immediate value with out-of-the-box connectors and built-in compliance and security
 
 
Build a flexible IT infrastructure that will allow you to continue to innovate and meet the changing needs of your customers
 
 
Design, build, manage, and secure all your integrations, wherever they are deployed, on a single unified platform
Learn more about MuleSoft, the world’s leading integration platform that’s part of the Salesforce Customer 360.
 

More Resources

 
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