We refer a lot to our Central Point of Truth data integration methodology in our blog. You’ve probably seen it being referred to as our “Hub-and-Spoke” data integration methodology.
But what does it actually mean?
This blog post is going to showing you a little of the ‘behind the scenes’ at VL – what our central point of truth in data integration means, and how it makes the future of your business a little less complicated, scalable and resilient.
First, let’s take a step back to make sure we’re all on the same page – what VL is all about:
Since our start in 1994, Virtual Logistics has been centered on helping businesses function more efficiently and effectively. We do this through providing high quality data integration services as a partner in your business’ ongoing growth.
Our cloud-based omni-channel integration service VL OMNI is designed using VL’s central point of truth data integration methodology. VL OMNI will ensure that your business’ integration stays scalable and responsive with how your business changes and grows over time.
In other words, we design your data integration solution to fit your business’ needs. Makes sense, right? Not trying to cram your business into something that was designed for some point to point, generalized business data flow. No one size fits all!
Now that we have this baseline clear, we can get into what VL’s central point of truth methodology is, and why it’s so important to your business’ ability to effectively scale while maximizing the effectiveness of your back-end technology stack.
What is VL’s central point of truth methodology?
A lot of companies that come looking for VL’s services follow an arc similar to that described in Chapter 1 of this great ebook, A Look Inside Two Amazing Business.
In short, business’ growth arc tends to follow the same pattern today. First, plug-and-play integrations are adopted and implemented as they’re needed. They are cheap or free, easy to install and require no outside help. Applications tethered together in this way, that is point to point, are connected together regardless of how other applications being used are connected.
This almost always results in a tangled mess of integrations – one that starts to bust apart at the seams as soon as the business starts to see real growth. This happens because theses plug-and-play products are designed for small businesses who have a low order volume. Plug-and-play integrations should really be thought of as an intermediary step. So long as you stay small, these plug-and-play integrations might last and are a great solution for quick setup.
But the funny thing about the technology and applications your business uses? They evolve, they change, or they simply become obsolete. And if your business is using plug-and-play integrations that only work between specific application (or worse – they might be hosted by specific applications), what happens when the application ‘dies’or you out live it?
Answer: the business stops working, because the tangled mess of integrations collapses in on itself.
The next step we often see is the company that having evolved beyond point to point plugins now engages web agency or a off shore coder to build integrations. These are almost always custom coded replacement for the point to point plugins. They may work in the short term but lack scalability, audit trail, error reporting and recovery. When something goes wrong it goes wrong in a very spectacular manner.
This is where VL’s central point of truth methodology is different.
Instead of haphazardly tying applications to each other, we examine the entire back-end technology stack and put together a solution in a way that a single application, typically the ERP or the ERP and WMS, is at the centre of the integration, and all other solutions are satellite to that central point. You may think its a rather silly way of proceeding but think of the data sources for the systems you use. Where does that data come from and how does data move between applications. Most people think transactions, but in today’s omni-channel world we also need to think about the data that feeds our applications.
What does this mean for your business? Keep reading.
Why the central point of truth is important
The difference between integrating your applications with plug-and-play (or DIY) solutions versus VL’s central point of truth is sort of like this:
A tangle of plug-and play integrations that sort of work, versus a well thought out centralized, organized, and strategic integration methodology.
Once your business starts to scale, VL’s central point of truth data integration methodology is the difference between order and chaos in a number of ways:
- All of your business’ data flows through the central hub. This means that all of your businesses data is sourced through a single hub, as opposed to running through multiple applications that each have their own data stores. This keeps your data synchronized, standardized and flowing.
- When you need to upgrade or add a new application into the mix (and you will), the central point of truth allows you to easily turn on and off applications without affecting the functionality of the rest of the eco-system. This allows for your business to stay agile, and to scale.
- Integrating your whole business – all of it’s applications and data touch points – is possible with VL’s Design your Integration on VL’s website?