Whether you're a search strategist trying to calculate an eBook's ROI or a compliance officer attempting to identify human rights risks across the supply chain, you need to analyze data from multiple sources.
Of course, that's easier said than done. Traditional data integration involves getting someone in the IT department to set up an environment in which you can run analytics.
The problem is, that process may take days, and sending periodic emails to IT asking if your data's ready is like poking a sleeping bear: It's a great way to get your head chewed off.
However, certain data integration tools designed for business analysts allow you to pull information from SQL and NoSQL databases, file systems and other sources. How do these solutions work?
Data Integration From a Sustainability Officer's Point of View
Suppose you're the chief sustainability officer (CSO) of a company that manufactures computer hardware – memory, motherboards and other such components.
You want to identify places across your supply chain where there's a high risk of human rights violations and put those findings in a report for your sustainability team, which will use the report to find out which facilities they need to audit in person.
To achieve this goal, you may need to analyze the following data:
- Quarterly production reports from upstream suppliers, such as East Asian minerals companies.
- Studies from non-governmental organizations (NGO), such as Amnesty International, on human rights violations associated with the minerals trade.
- Legislation on human work conditions from countries where your suppliers operate.
- Past emails and other communications from members of the sustainability team regarding your suppliers.
Overall, you need a blend of external and internal information regarding the facilities across your supply chain. In addition, you're working with a mix of unstructured and semi-structured data. Some of it may be in block storage, while the rest may be formatted as data storage.
So how do you blend all of this data together through a data integration solution?
— Unifi Software (@UnifiSoftware) March 23, 2017
Using a Data Integration Platform
When you open the data integration platform, all the information you need to analyze is available for discovery. You don't have to bother IT with assembling it into one place. Instead, you can get right to preparing and analyzing the data. Here's how:
- Data discovery: The platform comes with a search function that directs you to data sources you need, from the sustainability team emails to the NGO studies.
- Data acquisition: All of your data sources are listed in the integration platform. Just click on the ones you want to pull into your analysis environment.
- Data enrichment: What if you only want data sets that were created in the past year? Not a problem, just enter a "year" attribute into the integration platform, and it will show you relevant information generated over that time period.
- Data transformation: Those NGO studies, production reports area all related, and the data integration platform can denote these relationships.
In addition, you can normalize and format your data with just a few clicks, allowing you to analyze the data the same day you get the assignment. If you want to learn more about how data integration technologies work, check out some of our resources.