E-Business means conducting business based on complete, up-to-date and accurate information that has been collected from a variety of sources (both across an enterprise and beyond) and integrated for easy access. In fact, e- business is all about integration in that integrated information supports integrated business processes. An e-business integrates internal business processes through information shared across departments and divisions. Business- to-business environments involve an even broader range of integration since an e-business integrates its business processes with those of customers and partners by sharing information across corporate boundaries.
THE HURWITZ TAKE: The data integration that e-business demands is an opportunity for improving data quality. In situations where data quality is low, e-business integration cannot succeed without the implementation of aggressive data quality measures.
- E-business integration platforms. The typical e-business has many information sources to integrate including databases, applications, log files and syndicated data. Data warehouses, operational data stores, tools for enterprise application integration and corporate portals are all e-business integration platforms that aggregate information from these sources. Data quality is a long-standing imperative for data warehouses, but all e-business integration platforms benefit when coupled with data quality tools.
- Data enhancement. Although the first step toward data quality is cleansing existing data, an important second step is to improve quality by appending information from external sources. For instance, an insurance company might append spatial data to customer records to analyze them geographically for risk. Or a manufacturer may append financial information to supplier records so procurement specialists can assess financial stability.
- Customer data. Data quality tools have long been aimed at cleaning address lists and contact information. These are valuable sources of customer data that demand quality assurance. Yet, address lists when enhanced with appended demographics can move up to a new level of value that enables one-to-one marketing techniques.
- Internet data. E-businesses open their information systems for self- service with customers and partners over the Internet who, in turn, input information into e-businesses. Moving Internet data in both directions presents an opportunity for data quality.
- Mergers and acquisitions. When e- businesses are acquired or merged, one of the first priorities is to integrate information systems since these are key to integrating people and business processes. This is yet another opportunity for data quality.
Conducting business based on information means that data quality is more important to business processes than ever before. To address these issues, a rich and mature set of products for data quality and enhancement are currently available from a host of established software vendors. Hurwitz Group recommends that companies conducting e-business avail themselves of these products to ensure the success and raise the value of e-business integration.
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