Steve Jobs presenting on how apps changed how we think about products and services.

Data Integration – 5 Lessons from Steve Jobs



Data Integration

I recently finished the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and a number of things struck me while reading the book. Besides being an individual that intrigued a lot of people Steve Jobs also had some leadership tenants that can be applied to manuy industries and to data integration in particular.  I have highlighted 5 that anyone who is doing any sort of data integration needs to consider.


Far too often people tend to over complicate things. It is human nature.  We see what we want to see and we do the best we can based on our experience. Sometimes the best integrations are the simplest ones. It is imperative that anyone doing data integration dissect the data flow and identify the simplest way of building the integration. A simple example is why have multiple file layouts for inbound purchase orders when one single all encompassing file layout would suffice. Simplicity saves development time, money and downstream support headaches.

Take Responsibility End to End

Any data integration project has to be a partnership between the operational side of the business and the IT people. I am always amazed at the delineation that exists between these two groups in many companies. When attempting any sort of integration business and IT need to be aligned and focused on the same mission. If not, then one descends into a blame game when things go wrong. Integration works only if the business needs are met and IT understands why their involvement and expertise is critical to the success of the project.

When Behind Leapfrog

There are numerous examples in many industries of technology leapfrogs to build competitive advantage. I think of the European adoption of the GSM standard in the cellular space as one. Too often companies that are using web portals for EDI attempt to replicate some or all of the functions on the portal when they try to integrate to in-house applications. Rather than leap frogging over the inefficiencies, they over complicate and lose sight of the simplicity that real integration can bring. Leap frog where ever possible as it brings huge competitive advantages.

Push for Perfection

Mediocrity reigns in most business. People are satisfied with what they know and little effort is made to perfect things. Why correct data errors that cause integrations to fail, it is easier to blame the system and return to the old ways.  In embracing the first three tenants a drive for perfection must permeate all of one’s decisions and approaches. Integration is powerful but it requires clean, perfect data and a precise approach .

Know Both the Big Picture and the Details

Too often data integration decisions are based on money and a lack of understanding. I won’t deny money is important. But more critically if you don’t understand the big picture, have a game plan or know strategically where you want to go you lose the details. When you lose the details you cannot embrace the first four tenants adn you base decisions on what you do understand. For most people money and cost is an easy one to grasp. As much as business owners and people who oversee operations want to move away from the details it is always critical to have a good perspective of them.

Interested in seeing how people have applied these principles to data integration take a look at some of the episodes of Integration TV.

Categories: EDI