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What are the advantages and disadvantages of corporate data integration?

By
  • Sid Adelman, Larissa Moss
Published
  • March 13 2003, 1:00am EST

Q:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of corporate data integration?

A:

Sid Adelman’s Answer: Data integration is expensive and the commitment of management for integration is often short-lived. They think it’s a good idea but they are not sure there is any short-term payoff and remember that most management are being measured on short-term objectives. However, the benefits of data integration are major, real, and of continuous benefit. They are:

  • Minimizing the reconciliation of inconsistent data,
  • Reducing the programs and the programmers who support the redundant programs,
  • Having a single version of the true data,
  • Less redundant data,
  • Fewer interface programs (a major resource consumer),
  • Fewer problems with timing discrepancies,
  • More timely data.

Larissa Moss’ Answer: The advantages of corporate data integration boil down to money – as in "profits." While building standalone applications may be the "quick" solution to an immediate business problem, maintaining the resulting redundant and inconsistent databases and applications is a huge cost to organizations. Larry English sites two examples of such costs in his book Improving Data Warehouse and Business Information Quality. He describes several situations where companies have incurred millions of dollars in direct costs due to data redundancy and poor quality data. Another big advantage to corporate data integration is that it is much quicker to develop new applications if a complete inventory of data already exists, and if that inventory is consistent and clean. With today’s economic pressures, IT is continuously challenged to deliver faster and faster, which is not possible if IT has to start from scratch with every application. The only possible "disadvantage" I can think of – and I would call it an impact rather than a disadvantage – is that individual projects will take a little longer to build. However, that is offset by the time-savings of not having to maintain and reconcile redundant and inconsistent data and processes.

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