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VL’s Data Integration Predictions for 2014

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For the past two years, 2012 and 2013, I have blogged at year end about what we at VL see coming in the new year. This year is no different and after this blog it will be the start of a tradition. Three years goes by quickly. Infact 2014 marks VL’s 20th year in business. Twenty years has also flown by and over the years we have seen many changes in data integration. When we first started it was all about EDI, today its EDI and much more. The most interesting observation is that integration keeps gettting more and more complex, simplicity is no longer part of the equation.

Last Year’s Predictions

So lets review last year’s data integration predications and see if we were on the mark or out to that proverbial lunch. In 2013 we predicted that Cloud and On Premise solutions would have the same traction. I think we were bang on, on this one, although things are slowly starting to change. Data Integration Complexity, again for this one we were on the mark. Integration got more and more complex in 2013 with ever more integration touchpoints within organizations. On Data Silos we were unfortunately wrong. This one is going to die a really slow death. Maybe the old school has to graduate before the silos fall, or maybe as someone told me there is a place for certain data silos. I am a believer now more than ever that until companies take data seriously this one will not change. Web Services is an interesting one. There has been growth but not at the pace we expected. Maybe the development of solid web services in existing applications is a more daunting task than I had imagined. So although web services are growing both in usage and adoption its not been at the pace I thought. Private Clouds, I was so excited about this one. Alas it hasn’t panned out as I fortold. Hey c’est la vie. If I got them all correct I wouldn’t be here writing this blog article I’d be relaxing in some resort with a drink in my hand and my private jet at the airport.

This Year’s Predictions

So what do we see for 2014. I am writing this blog article from Kaprun in Austria so being away for a while has given me some time to think about trends and changes for 2014. The other night over dinner, my eldest son, asked me if all the data in the world could be linked together. I asked him why he was thinking about that. Well he said, it would be cool to be able to know where something you wanted was located by simply doing a search from your smart phone. To put the question in context he saw a sweater in a store he wanted and hasn’t been able to find it since.

So here are our four data predictions for 2014.

Data is Cool

Data, is what the dinner conversation was all about. So my first prediction for 2014. Data is cool. Not only is data cool, data is now finally about to become a currency. I have been saying this for some time, but I do think 2014 will be data’s year. Much like Bitcoins, data within organizations has an immense if almost oblique value. Did you know that GE jet engines generate more data world wide in a single day than Twitter does in a year. We are awash in data. So 2014 will be the year that companies of all sizes wake up to the value of the data they house and start looking at data differently.

Integration Complexity will continue to Increase

This one sounds obvious and in a transactional world it actually is. But when companies start to see data as a currency and attempt to derive new revenue sources from that data then integration complexity will continue to grow exponentially. Not only will complexity continue to grow but data cleanliness will become increasingly important. Most companies pay lip service to data cleanliness but if you think of data ecosystems this now becomes a critical piece. Five years ago we talked about data cleanliness as we trade in a digital world. In 2014 this is going to become increasingly critical. What my eldest son was really asking about was why couldn’t data be used to create data ecosystems amongst partners. The implication is both one of complexity but also one of cleanliness. Both will have profound impacts on organizations. If companies want to create new revenue sources from data, cleanliness is the next logical step in the process.

Data must be Clean to be Free

Clean data is key to complex data usages. Think of the growing trend in analytics, which is to tie together disparate data sources to create more complex pieces of data to derive actionable intelligence. We piloted a very simple data aggregation this fall with Maps BI to demonstrate what could be derived from e-commerce web store data. We only scratched the surface of what is possible with complex data sets. What became clear, in the Maps BI exercise, was not only the importance of the types of available e-commerce data but more importantly how clean the data needed to be to create actionable intelligence. Our e-commerce geospatial BI would have been useless had the data set been flawed. Herein lies the biggest challenge to companies. Companies must take data seriously and they must take cleanliness seriously. If they don’t their competitors will.

APIs are essential to Complex Integration Ecosystems

APIs are key to complex integrations. The evolution of the old point to point integration approaches are being replaced with web service API interactions that allow for more complex business data usage. The explosive growth of public APIs in 2013 is a testament to their ever growing importance. Over 4000 new public APIs were published alone on programmable web. That is just the tip of the iceberg.  So the bottom line for any organization, your integration applications need to be web service API ready. Applications that lack APIs will hinder the ability of companies to grow and provide meaningful data to their partners. If your company has no API strategy, it better start looking at ways to develop one. This is a tall order in many organizations where IT pays lip service to whole idea of data and integration.

So as 2013 comes to a close later tonight. I encourage everyone to think about data differently, look at the inherent value in the information available within your organization, and think out side the traditional data box.

Wishing you all a glückliches neues Jahr from Salzburgerland in Austria.


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