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Software // Information Management
Commentary
3/24/2005
04:46 PM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
Commentary
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De-Fragmenting Data

Hey, I have an idea. Let's rename March 'Data Integration Month.'

March has seen the stars align and get everybody in BI thinking about one thing first and foremost: data integration.

First, IBM announced its acquisition of Ascential, a move that Big Blue hopes will shore up the data integration capabilities it can provide to customers under its own name. Almost as soon as that news came out, we began to hear whisperings that Informatica would be the next integration vendor purchased by an enterprise software maker -- though by which one is a bit of a mystery, considering Oracle's struggle to integrate PeopleSoft and its time-consuming fight with SAP for the rights to Retek. You can read more about that here.

Next came a bit of news from another independent integration vendor, Tibco Software, which responded to IBM's Ascential news with the debut of its own, new data integration tool. Tibco has also made it clear recently that you don't need to be the size of IBM to make an acquisition or two to boost your capabilities.

Most Business Intelligence Pipeline readers, especially those from bigger firms, understand quite well already why data integration is at the front of a lot of folks' minds these days. But if you could use a little more background -- and hey, there's nothing wrong with that -- check out a story we just ran that examines the underlying causes behind the craze to integrate. As Rick Whiting and Charles Babcock of InformationWeek explain, "Companies are trying to absorb more information faster and from more far-flung sources so they can understand and adapt to customers' needs more quickly. Yet data remains fragmented at most companies, scattered across enterprise-resource-planning and customer-relationship-management applications, legacy systems, and disparate databases."

And now to change gears for just a second, let's talk about data security: Business intelligence and security are two separate fields of IT expertise, but both are built around data. It's that fact -- combined with a spate of recent, embarrassing security breaches at LexisNexis, ChoicePoint and elsewhere -- that prompted me to ask how you feel about the safety of data at your organization. As usual, Business Intelligence Pipeline readers provided eye-opening answers.

BI practitioners were almost evenly split in our latest poll, with 46 percent of respondents describing their data security as either "rock solid" or "safe enough." But 54 percent either said their organizations need to make security improvements or said they're "not too confident" about their data security. We've known for a while now that data quality is a big problem at all sorts of companies engaged in BI. We can add data security as another potential pitfall that, even if it won't endanger BI efforts directly, sure as heck can drag an organization's name through the mud.

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