According to a recent Dresner report, 80% of business operations leaders say data integration is critical to their success. Business leaders need real-time reporting and monitoring to keep up with decision making. With the number of workflow and data integration points needed to keep businesses running smoothly, it’s no surprise that data is taking a larger and larger role in every organization.
Your company uses business intelligence (BI) to leverage data to drive key business decisions. BI tools democratize information within your organization and allow data science to play an increasingly large role across departments. Data integration is the key to supporting all business intelligence and moving toward cloud data integration is a critical priority for many companies.
Data integration is bringing in data from disparate sources and normalizing it in a way that it can be understood, relationships identified, trends quantified, and predictions made. Your company has likely spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to integrate data in warehouses, data lakes, or through a BI tool.
But what happens when you can’t integrate data? Perhaps a software solution is too new that you haven’t yet had a chance to develop pipelines to integrate it? Or you could be dealing with a legacy system hoarding critical business information that is difficult to work with. How does your company ensure you have all the data you need to provide actionable insights?
A Common Scenario for Data Integration
Consider this scenario of the ever-growing need for data and you, the data manager, working to create actionable insights.
A high-level marketing manager requests a report based on data from their new marketing automation tool. You power up your BI engine to begin pulling in this data only to realize they don’t yet have a pre-built connector to easily integrate the data. This particular marketing software is too new.
What do you do?
You could try and get IT resources freed up to build a custom ETL pipe for this new software. That way it will be integrated into your BI solution or data warehouse. But since only one department is using this tool, it’s not likely to be a high priority for the IT team and will languish as an unfulfilled request ticket for months.
You could tell the marketing manager that you can’t get data from that tool…only to have them come back and tell you it’s a critical piece of their marketing strategy and they NEED that data.
Or you can build a custom connector through an API to begin integrating that data into your BI tool without needing to get IT resources involved. Sounds like the best possible solution. Can it really be that easy?
Build Custom Connections with an API
If the scenario above gives you heartburn, get used to it. While leading BI tools have thousands of pre-built connectors, there are even more new tools—thousands of them—coming to the market every year. Trends are changing, needs are growing, and even in just one department like marketing or sales, there is a new trend to be tracked and a new tool to measure each year. It’s a never-ending cycle.
This is why it is critical that you are able to build custom connections to your BI software tool. For leading BI tools, this is most often done through an API.
API stands for application programming interface. In basic terms, the API is how computers and servers talk to each other or how different kinds of software interact. It’s how your browser interprets the code it displays as a website. It’s how social media feeds are embedded into a software package. An API will define the calls and requests that can be used and data formats needed when sharing the data between systems.
Forrester says getting an API right can “elevate the customer experience, hypercharge your business agility, and accelerate your digital transformation.” When using an API to integrate disparate data sources, there are even more benefits. Using an API for data integration allows you to import and export data. You can also use the API to enforce data governance standards.
While the API will allow you to import data from any source, it will require some code to get the API established to do what you’d like it to. But as you institute the process for creating new connections, it can become as simple as copying and pasting a few lines of Python.
Developers can use almost any modern programming language to build their API. But many of the leading APIs out there are built on Python or Java. When looking to integrate with your BI tool, look for a pre-built API and software development kit (SDK). These tools will support you in integrating new data sources and will tell you what language they’re using.
With these tools available, you’ll only need to paste in a small piece of Python code (or another language) to direct the API to the source you’d like to ingest. Once you have the code snippet in place you’ll be able to copy and paste it in for the next custom connection to a new data source, changing only a few things to direct it to the new data source.
Using APIs to Move Data Integration Forward
Data integration is critical for your BI. Because of that, your BI tools need to make it easy to constantly ingest new data sets, whether you’re setting up a new permanent source or just bringing in a few custom datasets for analysis. With the right API tools in place to build custom connectors with your data, you won’t need to be an expert in Python or software programming to get data imported the way you want.
And, most importantly, as you grow more experienced with creating custom connectors via API, you will be able to establish new data feeds without IT bottlenecks.
While Domo has thousands of pre-built connectors, it also includes an SDK so you can leverage Domo’s API to extract data from any tool. With the DataSet API, you can:
Automate external uploads to Domo.
Export normalized data out of the tool.
Automate user creation and access through the personalized data permissions tool provided by Domo.
Using Domo’s API tools takes you to the next level of power user. To learn more about how Domo’s custom connectors can support your data integration and BI, talk to a Domo expert today.
Check out some related resources:
5 ways to boost your efforts with cloud connectors
A guide to data federation: Everything you need to know
Building Data Integrations on a Modern BI Platform
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