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How Data Integration Solutions Have Evolved

Data integration solutions have come a long way since manual ledgers, punch cards, and mainframe computers. In this article, we’ll look at the basics of how data integration software has evolved over time and how today’s powerful yet streamlined solutions are putting more power into the hands of the user.

Lots of data, all in silos

In the early days, businesses had plenty of data but it was all housed in completely different databases. Most companies had an ERP system, a separate system for reporting, one for financials, another for payroll, and so on. Their data could be sliced and diced in many different ways, which was helpful for individual departments using it, but integrating the data into useful big-picture scenarios took lots of time – and significant investment. The challenge was to get these systems to talk to one another.

The introduction of basic integration tools

Advancements in data integration software enabled systems to begin sharing information more seamlessly. Large enterprise software companies like IBM, Oracle and SAP developed massive tools to create data warehouses that could integrate information from separate databases. These ETL (“Extract, Transform, Load”) technologies were able to transform data into new structures that could be easily interpreted by other systems.

This was a huge advancement in the field of data integration. Though this technology enabled information sharing between databases, in order to make sure these systems worked reliably, someone had to write all the scripts, perform tests and validate each step of every process. The tools existed, but they were expensive, complicated, and required long development timeframes.

Opening up the communication channels

Today, new technologies have emerged that make it much easier for businesses to collect, merge and parse ever-increasing quantities of data. These platforms don’t just extract data from various databases and smash it together. They allow open, two-way communication between systems. It’s like the difference between passing notes in class and a real-time video chat connection.

These systems use modern APIs (application programming interfaces) to connect disparate systems in a trusted manner, enabling unrestricted data sharing among independently-developed software solutions.
API connections are all around us. Everything from automatically posting your tweets to your Facebook wall to connecting your eBay inventory to a Google spreadsheet requires the use of these communication tools that extract and import data for a variety of practical uses.

A new era: user-friendly, automated solutions for businesses

The data integration solutions mentioned above are primarily for small-scale consumer use – but new advancements have revolutionized business process efficiency. Data integration software companies recognize that as businesses seek to expand their sales channels, grow their audiences or increase their B2B transactions, their data must be able to keep up. Instead of complex and cumbersome tool sets, new systems are focused on providing easy-to-use solutions. These solutions are designed for implementation by users without a technical background, where speed-to-deployment is critical.

Plug-and-play integration platforms are ready to go out of the box, so no time is wasted on software development and testing. Instead, automated solutions are fully developed before reaching the end user. As such, businesses can begin using the software with a few clicks. Simple mapping processes allow users to quickly configure their connections, without any knowledge of what’s happening “under the hood.” This is a huge departure from customized software solutions that require long design and development periods, as well as hefty capital investments.

Today’s automated platforms must keep pace with the evolving capabilities of commerce. With the end-user in mind, all-in-one solutions are built to respond to ongoing expansion. As new sales channels emerge, these software providers generate new and updated connections that allow businesses to use their data integration software without any interruptions.

To discover how Alluvia’s plug-and-play platform can solve your data integration challenges and save your business time and money, contact us today to schedule a demo.

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Smart solutions start with simplicity. Let us show you how quickly you can connect your ERP to ecommerce and marketplace systems using a simple drag-and-drop mapping interface powered by flexible integration architecture. Alluvia is a plug-and-play solution at a cost you can control.