Last month, we introduced the burgeoning issue of acronyms in the world of data integration. Ever increasingly, our world is being overrun by alphabet soup; that is, we are lost in acronym hell with the lines blurred to near incomprehensibility. Life, for those responsible for ensuring the date quality and interchange between all our corporate applications are concerned, began with a few programmers locked in a room writing custom SQL and file extracts to share limited amounts of data. Then we moved on to ETL, EAI, EII and EIEIO...

As we posited last month, the real issue is not the fact that data needs to be shared. The issue comes from the nature of the current business environment. Conglomerates have taken over the family-run, corner markets. The era when a large, successful business could be run on a single, entry-level accounting package are long gone. The times when executives could gather all the information necessary from a few canned reports are long gone. The business world today revolves around many sophisticated and specialized applications, such as general ledger, accounts payable, human resources, sales automation, customer relationship management and supply chain automation. Toss in a few homegrown or customized applications to handle inventory management and other ancillary activities, robust and dynamic reporting, analysis (OLAP) and dashboards (scorecards) and you have a complete picture of today's business environment.

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