Unusually, the IT world is in resounding agreement about one thing: data is the future and it really, really matters.

Businesses are scrambling to respond and spending accordingly. Demand for data analysts is up by 92%; 25% of IT budgets are spent on the data integration projects required to access the value locked up in this data "ore" - it certainly seems that enterprise is doing The Right Thing – but is it?

Scratch the surface, and it emerges that 83% of IT staff expect there to be no ROI at all on data integration projects and that they are notorious for being late, over-budget and incredibly risky.

Integration point

These kinds of facts can't be ignored, because data integration is a necessary precursor to the analytics that generate insight from data. Right now, that data integration is heading into a tsunami, and taking future value and insight with it. There has to be a better way.

The root causes of data integration's troubles are two-fold: relational data management technology that is nearly half a century old and a dizzyingly rapid rise in the variety of data sources available to the enterprise, the volume of data they produce and the velocity at which they produce it. This combination is like navigating a tidal wave in a kayak. Decidedly not The Right Thing.

What IT departments need is a boat with a rudder –nimble enough to weather the storm and sufficiently adaptive to steer round obstacles as they appear.

Agile approach

Newer, more agile approaches to data have begun to emerge, but enterprises must urgently start considering how these disruptive new ways of dealing with data can be applied beyond just data storage and retrieval, and brought to the layer above that, where data integration takes place.

They need to look at the way their information architecture teams think and make sure that they have the hatches battened on a seaworthy vessel – because the tsunami is on its way.

  • Leo Eweani co-founded Ontology Systems in 2005 and is now leading the application of semantic technologies to management systems for IT, Data Center and Network environments.