Leveraging Information and Intelligence

David Linthicum

How to sell Data Integration

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In most cases Data Integration has to be sold within the enterprise. Indeed, if you're doing Data Integration right, you'll find that the cost quickly goes well into the millions. Thus you'll need executive approval for that kind of acceleration in spending. However, the benefits are there as well, including the core benefit of agility that could save the company many times the cost of building a Data Integration. Or, at least, that's the idea.

So, how do you sell Data Integration? Let's look at a few key concepts, including:
1. Shining a light on existing limitations.
2. Creating the business case.
3. Creating the execution plan.
4. Delivering the goods.

Shining a light on existing limitations refers to the process of admitting how bad things are. This is difficult to do for most architects, because this can expose you to criticism. You're in charge of keeping things working correctly, and now you have to explain why things aren't working as they should or could. If it's any comfort, the architecture within most Global 2000 companies is in need of fixing.

Creating the business case refers to the process of actually putting some numbers down as to the value of the Data Integration to the enterprise or business. This means looking at the existing issues (from the previous step), and putting dollar figures next to them. For instance, how much are these limitations costing the business, and how does that affect the bottom line? Then, how will the addition of Data Integration affect the business -- positively or negatively?

Creating the execution plan refers to the detailed plan that defines what will be done, when, by what resources, and how long. This is basically a project plan, but most people will find that the systemic nature of Data Integration requires that a great deal of resources work together to drive toward the end state. Leveraging and managing those resources is somewhat complex, as is the project management aspect of Data Integration.

Delivering the goods just means doing what you said you would do. Execution is where most Data Integrations fall down. However, if you fail to deliver on-time and on-budget, chances are your Data Integration efforts won't continue to have credibility within the enterprise, and future selling will be impossible. So, say what you'll do, and do what you say.

Selling Data Integration is more of an art than a well-defined process, as you've seen. It really requires a certain degree of understanding, including the technology, the business, and the culture of the enterprise. Most important to the project, selling needs to be followed up with delivery and the value. That's the tough part.

Industry expert Dave Linthicum tells you what you need to know about building efficiency into the information management infrastructure

David Linthicum

David Linthicum is the CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, and an internationally known distributed computing and application integration expert. View more

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