Self-Service is Great for Fro-Yo but is it Right for Integration?

I had cause to visit a self-service frozen yogurt wonder emporium on a recent visit to the U.S. It was delightful and, at first, a tad overwhelming – so many flavors to choose from, so many toppings. Needless to say, I over indulged (goodbye, ideal running weight). Based on the number of similar establishments I saw during the rest of my stay, people seem to like control and convenience of the self-service business model. And, whether you look at banking, booking travel, or personal tax filings, self-service or DIY certainly appears to be a broader trend. 

It’s also starting to happen in IT. For some IT teams, this change is happening too fast; for some business users this change can’t happen quickly enough. This tension is evident in the case of data integration and analytics. Because today’s business decisions are increasingly data driven, there is a growing strain between data-hungry business users and cost-constrained IT organizations.  Users want to be able to tap into multiple data sources and employ a variety of integrated applications to further their initiatives, but many IT teams can’t keep up.

Here’s a typical scenario: A marketing team returns from a trade show with a gold mine of fresh leads sitting in Box or Dropbox.  The leads need to be moved into a marketing tool like Marketo to make them actionable, then on to for additional CRM activity. Finally, leads are imported into a data lake where the information can be combined with other data sources and analyzed using a tool like Tableau.

More easily said than done: Making the connections between the various systems is often a highly manual activity, as is cleansing the prospect contact information, which is typically riddled with data inconsistencies, duplicate names and other quality challenges. Naturally, the business users turn to IT for help.

But that help may not be as forthcoming as the users would like – IT organizations saddled with budget cuts and diminishing headcounts have a lot on their plate.  The process might be further protracted if the information delivered isn’t exactly what is needed or if the business teams want to probe further based on the initial insights.   

This delay in access to information has encouraged some business users to work outside the boundaries of IT control, sometimes referred to as Shadow IT. Business users may select and try to integrate SaaS applications on their own, which contributes to rogue silos that do not adhere to company standards for quality, security, compliance and governance. 

In a recent Talend survey, companies told us that 50% of them have five or more SaaS apps. This figure is on the rise with IDC reporting that purchases of SaaS apps are growing 5X faster than on-premise. At the same time, Gartner predicts that 66% of integration flows will extend beyond the firewall by 2017 and 65% will be developed by the line of business.

Like my overflowing cup of frozen yogurt, independence can be costly in the traditional world of self-service integration. Users must spend hours each week cleaning and manually entering data – a mind-numbing, error prone activity that not only leads to inaccurate data, but also creates the perfect environment for procrastination. Dirty data starts to pile up like unwashed dishes in the kitchen sink.

Compounding the problem is the fact that the tools used to build integration solutions are complex, costly and require frequent updating. Most business users understandably lack the deep programming skills required to effectively code these systems.

Best of Both Worlds

The difficulties I’ve referred to actually present a great opportunity for IT to empower its users, streamline its own operations, and bring a new level of agility to the enterprise. Think “controlled self-service”.  Help has arrived in the form of the recently introduced Talend Integration Cloud – a secure cloud integration platform that combines the power of Talend’s enterprise integration capabilities with the agility of the cloud.

To be specific, with Talend Integration Cloud we provide four key capabilities:

- The platform makes it fast and easy to cleanse, enrich and share data from all your on-premises and cloud applications,

- We provide the flexibility to run those jobs anywhere – in the cloud or in your own data center,

- We support cloud and on-premise big data platforms allowing you to deliver next generation analytics at a fraction of the cost of traditional warehouse solutions,

- We enable IT to empower business users with easy-to-use self-service integration tools, so they can move and access data faster than ever before.

With regard to that last point, IT is able to turn its business users into “citizen integrators,” a term used by Gartner.  Business users get the tools they need to automate process that once were handled by IT, but IT retains a high-level of visibility and control. 

Talend Integration Cloud allows IT to use the full power of Talend Studio and apply more than 1,000 connectors and components to simplify application integration by its citizen integrators. IT either prepares all connectors and components, or validates connectors that are available through Talend Exchange, our community marketplace. This ensures that all connectors are in compliance with enterprise governance and security guidelines. 

And best of all, those problematic, standalone silos can be shelved. Talend Integration Cloud provides a whole new style of integration that allows IT to partner with business users to meet their integration needs. It may make both teams so happy that they decide a group outing is in order – self-serve fro-yo anyone?


Infogroup and Talend Integration Cloud

Infogroup is a marketing services and analytics provider offering data and SaaS to help a range of companies – including Fortune 100 enterprises – increase sales and customer loyalty. The company provides both digital and traditional marketing channel expertise that is enhanced by real-time client access to proprietary data on 235 million individuals and 24 million businesses.

“We use Talend’s big data and data integration products to help our customers access vast amounts of contextually-relevant data in real-time, so they can be more responsive to their client’s demands,” said Purandar Das, chief technology officer, Enterprise Solutions, Infogroup. “Our work requires that we constantly innovate and perfect the systems driving topline revenue for clients. Talend Integration Cloud, which we’ve been beta testing, will enable us to integrate more data from more cloud and mobile sources leveraging our existing skills and prior Talend project work.”

Bringing Benefits to IT, Users and the Enterprise

Among the many benefits associated with deploying Talend Integration Cloud are:

- Increased business agility and performance due to easy to use data integration tools provided to business users,

- Increases governance and security within compliance guidelines established by IT,

- Allows business users to work together more easily, think more strategically, and engage in dialogues fostering creativity,

- Simplifies and dramatically reduces time to deployment because all servers are in the cloud, minimizing the need for on-premises infrastructure,

- Allows you to shift workloads from on-premises to run in a secure cloud with cloud-to-cloud or cloud-to-ground connectivity,

- Lowers the cost and effort of maintaining and evolving these integrations by providing up-to-date visual representations of their status.

Plus you enjoy all the typical cloud benefits such as reduced cost, increased agility, faster speed, and lower total cost of ownership (maintenance of integration flows and connections is so much easier).

Talend Integration Cloud provides IT with an unparalleled opportunity to meet business users’ needs for data integration and self-provisioning, while maintaining the highest standards of governance and security.  It’s the best of both worlds.

Related Resources

5 Ways to Become A Data Integration Hero

Products Mentioned

Talend Data Integration


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