First thing’s first: did you take our quick 10 question quiz we posted in our last blog post?
If you didn’t – no cheating! This follow-up blog post will review the logic behind each of the quiz questions’ correct answers so that we can all learn and grow together.
Our quiz contained 10 questions, and if you’re a regular reader and subscriber of our blog, the answers likely came easily to you. (It’s never to late to subscribe to our blog!)
If you misses a couple of answers, we’ve got you covered. Here are the answers to each of the quiz questions, including a break down of why each answer was the correct answer, and which of our blog articles were used as the inspiration for each question.
1. What is data integration?
We started our quiz out with a deceptively easy question – and one that people often stumble over! This is also perhaps the most important question of the quiz, as your knowledge of what integration is informs the rest of your ideas about integration.
The correct answer to this question was “The process of connecting applications together, allowing data to flow in a free an automated manner”. This question was taken from our blog post What is EDI Integration?
The other answers to this question play on common misconceptions about data integration – including the throw-away answer of “that math stuff I used to hate in high school” and the notion of integration needing physical connectors to work. (VL has a cloud offering that completely invalidates this answer.) The moral of this question is not to let yourself get distracted by flashy terms like “big data” when you’re taking integration.
2. What happens to a business’ data as a result of data integration services?
This is an important question because it gets right to the heart of what some sales people’s core tactics rely on: a surface-level understanding of what data integration services can do for your business.
The most correct answer to this question was “Data becomes standardized between the integrated platforms both inter- and intra-business, reducing errors and increasing the business’ savings in time and money”, adapted from this blog post. If you got this one wrong, don’t worry too much – it was a tricky question on purpose.
We can rule out the answer “data becomes automatically cleansed and optimized for big data business intiatives” because not all data integration solutions include data cleansing. This answer also falls into the trap of being distracted by ‘it’ terms like ‘big data’.
The answer “data flow becomes completely automated, removing the need for human intervention completely” is also incorrect, as even though data flow does become automated with data integration services, it doesn’t completely remove the need for humans! Case and point being customer service: if one of VL’s customer has a question, hits a trouble spot, or needs an expert opinion, guess who answers their calls? A real, live data integration expert!
Finally, we can eliminate the answer “data is stored in the cloud and accessed only when the business or their trading partners need it.” This answer really tests your integration knowledge, because your integration service provider can also access your data to help your data flow along! Additionally, not all data integration solutions are cloud-based: VL has both a cloud and on premise solution to best fit each company’s needs.
3. Benefits of data integration services include all of the following, except:
This question tackles a pet peve of VL’s: data integration services, no matter how awesome, will not fix all of your problems (and the kitchen sink)! That’s why the correct answer to this question was “improvement to internal systems”, taken from this blog post and this blog post. Data integration services will not make that sucky program you hate but still use daily any less sucky.
4. What are the differences between plug-and-play integration solutions and custom designed integration solutions?
The correct answer to this question is “Plug-and-play solutions work well for small businesses just starting out who have limited to no order volume, and who are not looking to scale their business in the near future. Customized solutions work best for more established businesses with large order volumes that cannot be handled by manual data entry who are looking to scale at some point”, from this blog. All other answers incorporate common misconceptions about customized integration solutions versus plug-and-play solutions:
- While plug-and-play integrations are generally less expensive than customized solutions, there’s a reason for this: plug-and-play integration solutions have limited uses and functionality.
- Lots of plug-and-play integrations do come packaged with other programs or applications, but customized integration solutions do not exist only to create integrations for programs/applications that are waiting for their mass produced plug-and-play integration. Customized solutions exist to incorporate multiple applications, programs, and other data sources in a unified integration solution, instead of the simple 1-to-1 abilities of plug-and-play solutions.
- Finally, plug-and-play integrations are not fully scalable, while customized integration solutions are built to last at various economies of scale over a course of years (or even decades).
5. Why should/shouldn’t a business consider DIY (do-it-yourself) integration?
There are many reasons why a business shouldn’t consider DIY integration, and of course the correct answer to this question is “a business shouldn’t consider DIY integration because if the system ever breaks down, the employee(s) who set it up may not be able to fix it/the employee(s) might not be with the company, causing loss of time and productivity”. For more reasons why a business shouldn’t consider DIY integration, check out this blog article on the subject.
6. Your business is not fully integrated when:
This question hails back to some of the earlier questions regarding DIY and plug-and-play integrations: if you find your business is still using work-arounds, manual processes, or multiple integration solutions patched together, your business isn’t fully integrated! The correct answer to this question was of course “all of the above”, as all the answers provided described a business that was not fully integrated. You can read more about this subject in this blog article.
7. Which of the following is a good strategy for choosing an integration partner?
Based on this blog post, the answer to this question is “defining your business’ strategy and goals for an integration solution, researching several potential partners, consulting with industry experts, and ensuring the integration partner fits well with your business’ values”. While taking trading partners’ recommendations on integration solutions or partners may be a good first step on your path to integration, we at VL always highly recommend that you do your own research and find the right solution for your business. Speaking to only one integration expert or just blindly picking the cheapest option are never recommended integration strategies.
8. When integration solutions or products fail for a business, the root cause(s) are usually due to:
The correct answer for this question was “all of the above”, as all options given as potential answers to this question can cause a failure of an integration solution. Read more about what your business can do to maximize the functionality and longevity of your integration in the blog post How Not To Integrate.
9. Signs and symptoms of an ineffective integration solution (or complete lack thereof) can be:
While there are a number of signs and symptoms that give away a business’ ineffective or lack of an integration solution, the correct answer to this question is “customer service issues and data errors”, taken from this blog post. The persistence of manual data entry is also a correct answer, but this manifests in data errors. If you want to read more about how ineffective integration manifests itself in a business, we highly recommend you read the ebook Three Common Ecommerce Integration Issues and their Solutions: An Ecommerce Whitepaper.
10. There are many integration options out there. Which of the following is not an integration solution?
This question really tests your deep knowledge of data integration – and how likely you are to have the wool pulled over your eyes by a cunning and not so integrious sales person. The answer, of course, is “rooted integration”, which is not even a thing. Read more about the types of integration options out there for your business here.
So, how’d you do?
If you scored above 80% on this quiz, you’re well on your way to being an integration expert, and you’re more than well equipped to start talking to integration solution providers. If you scored under 80%, stay hungry for information on integration, and keep on learning! The infographic below is a great place to start, and VL’s Resources Page has all the great content we produce in one place for easy consumption. And don’t forget to subscribe to VL’s blog!