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Understanding Data Integration in Business Intelligence 

Aaron Pallares
May 31, 2024 |
Data Integration in Business Intelligence

For Business Intelligence (BI) tools to function effectively, they must access a variety of data sources including websites, IoT devices, machinery, and through customer interactions. This information is then stored across different systems like CRM, ERP, and other cloud-based or on-premises solutions.

If BI tools only pull data from these diverse data sources, their utility is significantly reduced. Plus, waiting days, weeks, or months for data is also not acceptable because market opportunities can be missed. Data Integration in business Intelligence can deliver that data continuously and in a usable format. With reliable and timely data, BI tools can provide real-time insights.

How to Set Up Data Integration in Business Intelligence  

There are two main ways to set up data integration in business intelligence.

1. Manual Integration

In this approach, you manually access different data sources and accounts to gather the needed data. Then, you clean it up and put it into a data warehouse.

2. Automated Integration

This approach utilizes advanced integration platforms like DCKAP Integrator, which automatically access data from various sources and load them into business intelligence systems in real time. These platforms further clean up and transform the data, removing errors so that the information is ready for analysis by BI tools.

Benefits of Automating Data Integration:

  • Reliability: Automation is more reliable and efficient than manual integration.
  • Consolidation: It connects different systems, reducing data silos.
  • Speed: With data in a single platform, you can quickly find opportunities and threats, helping you stay ahead of the competition. 

Also read: Data Integration as a Service Explained

Automated Data Integration Methods in Business Intelligence

There are different approaches for data integration in business intelligence. Companies can choose methods based on their needs: 

Data Consolidation

This method combines data from different sources into a single, centralized location for reporting and analysis. It helps reduce the number of storage systems.  

Data consolidation uses the following processes:

ETL (Extract, Transform, Load)

Performs data transformation on a separate server before loading, ensuring data is cleaned and organized beforehand.

  • Order: Transforms data before loading it into the data warehouse.
  • Use Case: Ideal for complex transformations of smaller data sets.
  • Benefits: Enhances data security and is suitable for on-premises environments.

ELT (Extract, Load, Transform)

Transforms data within the data warehouse, allowing for direct raw data transfer without staging.

  • Order: Loads raw fresh data directly into the data warehouse, then transforms it.
  • Use Case: Suitable for processing vast amounts of data both structured and unstructured.  
  • Benefits: Provides flexibility and is ideal for cloud-based environments.

ELT is more suited for cloud environments due to the need for real-time updates and scalability. Plus, it is currently the most preferred method for data integration in business intelligence.

Data Warehousing

Data is stored in a data warehouse, allowing for quick reporting, BI, and other queries. This method helps discover data patterns quickly.

Data Virtualization

This method creates an abstract layer that combines data from various sources. Business users can have a unified view of data, but it isn’t physically moved or stored there. It remains a virtual structure.  

Data Propagation

Data from a warehouse is transformed and sent to various data marts. Updates in the warehouse are pushed to the data marts either at the same time (synchronously) or at different times (asynchronously).

Also read: Data Integration vs Application Integration Explained

Benefits of Data Integration in Business Intelligence

Here are the benefits of Business intelligence data integration:

Stay Updated with Real-Time Insights

Real-time data integration procedures transfer large volumes of data back to the central site rapidly. It can take several weeks or even months using conventional techniques including ETL methods, but with the use of ELT it’s done instantaneously almost as soon as information changes hands.

Hence you get the latest information for rapid decision making thus enhancing customer satisfaction and gaining a competitive edge. 

Understand Customer Behavior

With real-time data integration, you can understand customer behavior in real-time. By moving data from a variety of sources to a centralized repository, you can realize the customer’s actions and thoughts with the help of BI systems.

This helps to improve customer satisfaction and engagement. For instance, you can send personalized emails based on where customers are in your marketing funnel, or you can remind them to complete a purchase if they have abandoned their cart.  

React Swiftly to Market Trends

Relying only on historical data makes it hard to respond to changing market trends. Real-time data integration pulls data from your systems quickly, allowing you to view and analyze it in one place. It will enable identifying trends and acting upon changes in the market quicker.

Gain an Edge Over Competitors

It lets you trend and pattern data in seconds, way ahead of your competition that uses slower methods. For example, once you and your competitor launch the same product, you can immediately draw data from different sources, analyzing it with consumer reaction and sales insight much quicker than your competitor

Save Money with Quick Financial Analysis

By rapidly collecting, processing, and transferring financial data, real-time data integration helps you analyze your most recent financial records.

This enables you to identify cost-saving opportunities and make better financial decisions. For example, you can negotiate better contracts with suppliers or find cheaper alternatives based on the latest data.

Also read: Top 7 Data Integration Challenges and Solutions

What to Consider Before Choosing the Data Integration Tool for Business Intelligence

Here are a few things to consider while choosing the data integration tool:

1. Know Your Data Sources and Formats

First of all, you need to consider the different formats and sources of data that you must integrate.

Do you have to link disparate data sources, such as databases, cloud services, APIs, files, or web pages? Is the data structured, semi-structured, or unstructured? Will you have to transform, clean, or enrich the data before actually loading it into your target system?

Think of all these questions and then choose a tool that supports the connectors, formats, and transformations that your project needs.

2. Assess Your Data Volume and Speed

Next, consider the volume and speed of data you want to integrate.

Are you processing large batches of historical data, or is it streaming in real-time from sensors or events? Do you have to make difficult calculations, or do you just need to move it from one place to another?

Select a tool that offers the amount of performance and reliability you require and can scale based on your speed and volume requirements.

3. Ensure Data Quality and Governance

Also, consider the quality and governance of your data.

Is the accuracy of the data important to you, or is some level of inconsistencies acceptable? Are you bound by any regulations or standards, such as the GDPR or HIPAA? Do you need to track and audit data lineage and changes?

Pick a tool that can validate, correct, or enrich your data, which provides security, encryption, logging, and reporting features.

4. Define Your Integration Goals and Use Cases

Another factor is use cases, think before you act.

Decide why are you integrating data— for reporting, making dashboards, advanced analytics or machine learning. What is the goal of this integration: operational, tactical, or for purposes of strategic decision-making? Or alternatively, do you require this for some project or it’s something that happens over time but requires frequent updates?

Look for tools that support your BI software and scenarios—those that are most flexible, agile, and scalable.

5. Match Your Skills and Resources 

Finally, think about the skills and resources you have—Do you have a dedicated data engineering team and analysts, or are you going to use a business user or a consultant?

Do you have the technical capability to manage the data pipelines, or is a tool that simplifies this required? What’s your budget and timeline? Pick the tool that best fits your skill level, resource constraints, and learning curve.

Best Data Integration Solution for Distributors – DCKAP Integrator

DCKAP Integrator is the finest data integration tool for business intelligence (BI) in the distribution sector. Its robust features and tailored capabilities make it the ideal choice for distributors aiming to streamline operations, enhance decision-making, and gain a competitive edge.

1. Single Source of Truth 

Distributors often have to deal with various data sources – an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, CRM (customer relationship management) platform, eCommerce site, and other sources. With successful data integration, DCKAP Integrator unifies access to all those sources in a smooth flow of data.

It has extensive set of connectors for multiple platforms and APIs to ease the extraction and integration of data from any diversified system.

2. Real-Time Data Processing  

Real-time integration is very important for inventory management, processing orders, and customer service. DCKAP Integrator ensures that the latest information is always available for swift decision-making processes. With real-time streaming of data and powerful ETL/ELT processes it enables quick data load and transformation.

3. Data Transformation and Cleansing

DCKAP Integrator has powerful tools for data transformation, cleansing, and enrichment. It takes the raw data from different sources and standardize it for effective analysis. It automates these processes, ensuring high-quality data. 

4. Scalability

As a distributor expands, his data volumes grow, and so do his integration needs. DCKAP Integrator scales with ease in support of growth. It is capable of handling enormous volumes of data and high-velocity data streams. Plus, it has a scalable architecture that grows with your business.

5. Data Quality and Governance

Data accuracy, consistency, and compliance are very important for trusted BI.  DCKAP Integrator offers wide possibilities in the sphere of data quality and governance. It features data validation and strong governance frameworks with security, encryption, and compliance monitoring to meet industry regulations.

6. Flexibility and Agility

For distribution businesses to grow, the ability of a flexible solution to adapt in this ever-changing market with respect to changing needs is a must. DCKAP Integrator gives you the much-needed flexibility with features like customizable integration workflows and agile deployment options that quickly adapt to newer business processes and requirements.

7. Comprehensive Analytics Support

For a distributor, actionable insights become key to optimizing operations and strategies. DCKAP Integrator makes sure that your data is ready for deep analysis and reporting with smooth data flow into analytics platforms for detailed visualization and reporting.

8. Reduced Data Silos

Data silos hinder a comprehensive view of operations. DCKAP Integrator breaks down these silos, providing a unified view of the data. It has a centralized data repository and data visualization capabilities, allowing integration without physical data movement and eliminating silos. 

9. Cost Efficiency

A streamlined data integration process reduces costs and improves operational efficiency. DCKAP Integrator does the job for you offering significant cost savings. It takes care of the automated workflows that minimize manual data handling and errors, leading to lower operational costs and higher efficiency.

10. Enhanced Decision-Making

When distributors have access to real-time dashboard, coupled with advanced data analytics features, actionable insights flow in seamlessly. Easier access to integrated data with high quality puts the decision-makers in a great position to make better business decisions at all levels within the entire organization. 

Curious to know more about DCKAP Integrator? Check out the interactive product tour here    


What is business intelligence data integration?

Data integration in business intelligence involves combining data from various sources to provide a unified view that supports data analysis and decision-making. It ensures data integrity and allows for efficient data management, enabling businesses to gain insights and achieve a competitive advantage.

What is data integration in business?

Data integration in business refers to the process of merging data from different sources into a single, cohesive system. This process includes data ingestion, where data is collected and loaded into a data warehouse or data lake, and ensures consistent data integrity and efficient data management, facilitating comprehensive data analysis.

What are the types of data integration?

There are several types of data integration, each serve different purposes: 

  • ETL (Extract, Transform, Load): Data is extracted from external sources in various formats and then transformed into a usable format, and loaded into a destination.
  • ELT (Extract, Load, Transform): Data is extracted and loaded directly into a data warehouse, where it is then transformed.
  • Data Virtualization: Data remains in its original location but can be accessed and queried as if it were integrated.
  • Application Integration: Integrates data from different applications to streamline business processes.
  • Big Data Integration: Specifically handles large volumes of data, integrating big data from various sources for analysis.

What are the common use cases for data integration in business intelligence?

Common use cases for data integration in business intelligence include:

  • Data mining: Extracting useful patterns and insights from large datasets.
  • Customer analytics: Understanding customer behavior and preferences.
  • Operational efficiency: Streamlining business operations by integrating data from various tools.
  • Sales forecasting: Predicting future sales trends using historical data.

How do modern systems handle data integration?

Unlike legacy systems modern systems use various tools and software applications designed to handle the data extraction process from diverse sources. These tools ensure that data is accurately integrated, transformed, and loaded into a centralized data structure for analysis.  

What is the primary focuses of data integration in business intelligence?

The primary focuses of data integration in business intelligence include:

  • Ensuring data accuracy and consistency: Through well-defined integration processes.
  • Enhancing data security: Implementing security measures to protect integrated data.
  • Supporting business practices: By providing reliable data for strategic planning and decision-making.

How do well-defined integration processes contribute to business success?

Well-defined integration processes ensure that data is accurate, consistent, and readily available for analysis. This supports informed decision-making, operational efficiency, and strategic planning, ultimately leading to business success. Popular tools like DCKAP Integrator implement robust data integration strategy that provides actionable information in real-time to simplify your operational needs. 

Aaron Pallares

Aaron Pallares is a Solution Consultant and an Account Manager at DCKAP. A Certified ScrumMaster and an expert on the DCKAP Integrator, he enjoys providing clients with in-depth analysis of digital architecture. He always looks into previously held, existing, and new digital best practices. He delights in better understanding the psychology of digital architecture, its interactions with businesses, and forward trends. He is a self-proclaimed, “forever student” of digital practices. When he is not working, he watches a movie or reads books about human interactions and the tech world.

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