/ What are data connectors and why are they essential for businesses?

What are data connectors and why are they essential for businesses?

Each year, businesses become more reliant on digital tools, making increasingly data-driven decisions to further the success of their company – decisions which are informed by insights derived from that data.

However, with the increased insight that is able to be obtained from data analyses, the wealth of sources containing important, informative data has similarly increased, making it more difficult for businesses to effectively compile and analyse the data.

As a solution to this problem, data connectors are proving themselves essential for business, allowing them to get the most value from their data.

 
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What is a data connector?

A data connector collects data from a variety of sources – which could include a host of different databases, files, softwares, CRMs, analytics platforms and more – and delivering it to one predetermined singular destination.

This ‘destination’ is usually a data warehouse – or a data lake – as these services are able to store large amounts of data which can be easily queried or transformed; when assimilated in one location, the data is more easily analyzed to generate insight.

The last feature that categorises a data connector is that the delivery of data from the source to the destination occurs on a particular schedule.

In order to remain useful, data must be regularly retrieved from each data source so that any analysis that takes place is based on the most up-to-date, relevant data, to enable similarly relevant insights to be derived.

Data connectors can run on a schedule. Users can specify how frequently they want the data connector to run, whether it’s every minute, hour, or day. The frequency depends on the nature of the data and how current users want the data to be.

When the data is retrieved by the data connector at each of these intervals, this can be done using one of two methods: snapshot or incremental.

In snapshot retrieval, all the data from the source is recaptured by the data connector, including all old and new data.

When retrieving data incrementally, only the new data that has accumulated since the last ‘run’ by the data connector is retrieved.

In the majority of cases, incremental data retrieval is the better option as less energy, storage and costs are associated with retrieving only the newly collected data, compared to fetching all data from the source every time the data connector completes a run.

 

How do data connectors benefit businesses?

In the digitally-driven world of business that exists today, there are numerous ways in which a data connector can be used to improve the operations and success of a business.

Here are the top four:

Data connectors enable businesses to acquire a 360 view of their data

In order to get the most complete view of the performance of a business, insights need to be based on as much relevant data as possible, in order to get a 360 view of how an area is performing, using all the data available to make that judgement.

By compiling data from the various databases, files and softwares that relate to a particular area of performance – such as customer engagement and satisfaction – businesses can gain a comprehensive view of that area from a variety of different angles.

Data connectors enable the seamless aggregation of data from multiple sources into one place – typically a data warehouse – so that analysis of data can take place with the whole picture in mind.

Data connectors can integrate with other Business Intelligence tools

In addition to aggregating data into a centralized location for analysts to study and derive insight from, data connectors can also be integrated with BI tools to make the usefulness of this data extend even further.

Data connectors can integrate with reporting applications and dashboards, creating visualizations that enable the compiled data to be displayed in a way that’s easy to digest and understand. This is particularly useful when it comes to identifying patterns and trends over the long term that could be crucial to the business.

Data connectors improve productivity

If a company decides to forgo the use of a data connector, and instead opts to manually compile data from multiple sources for analysis, it will be a huge drain on both time and human resources, since each data source will need to be accessed – and data will need to be transferred from each source – one at a time.

Not only is this practice more susceptible to human error compared to using a data connector – for example, someone may forget to include data sources or fail to compile all the relevant data from each source – but it’s hugely inefficient compared to the speed of transfer carried out by a data connector.

Because of the time-consuming nature of this task, it’s also likely that the data will be updated less frequently, otherwise it would dominate the schedule of the workforce, so insights are likely to be less relevant and up-to-date.

The time spent by the workforce painstakingly gathering data for analysis could instead be spent carrying out higher-value tasks while a data connector compiles the data.

Data connectors allow companies to make data-backed predictions

Businesses should no longer make decisions based on subjective human opinion. Today, most major corporations make their decisions based on insights revealed by data analysis.

In particular, effectively compiling data that has been recorded over a long period of time can allow for the analysis of past patterns and trends in order to predict what may happen in the future.

This can help businesses prepare for events that are likely to affect the performance of a particular area – or all areas – of the business, to maximize success during these times, and to rectify any business operations that may be causing a decline in performance.

 
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Should you build or use a pre-built data connector?

When you’ve decided to use a data connector to aggregate your data and reap the analytical benefits for your business, there are two options available to you.

The first is to build your data connector in-house, using developers you already have – or hiring one – to build the data connector; this is a good option for organizations whose security is their top priority and want to have a data connector with a unique source code.

The second option – which is usually a better choice for most businesses – is to use a pre-built data connector, built and maintained by a platform outside of your business.

The nature of pre-built data connectors makes them advantageous in a number of ways.

1. They’re usually more affordable

Purchasing a pre-built data connector is typically less expensive than paying for the number of contracted hours that it would take an in-house developer to create a data connector from scratch.

This cost would increase even more if you outsourced the creation of your data connector to a freelancer or hired a developer specifically to create and maintain the data connector for use in your business.

On the other hand, there are many reasonable pricing plans available for pre-built data connectors which you can find online.

2. Frees up the time of your team

Since a pre-built data connector is created and managed externally, this means that the time of your developers is freed up to complete more important tasks.

This is particularly important when the team is working on a particular project or towards strict deadlines, as data connectors built in-house will sometimes require maintenance by your developers, which could derail the timelines for other projects.

3. Data connectors are a managed service

If your data connector experiences issues, then it’s not on your team to fix the problem – instead, it’s the responsibility of the external party providing the data connector to your organization.

Alternatively, if you built your data connector in-house, your team would have to take time out from their schedules to make sure the problem was fixed.

Or, if you didn’t have a developer on your team and you outsourced the creation of the data connector, then problems with your company’s data connector would be even more difficult to deal with.

So, a pre-built data connector can help to minimize disruption to your workforce, and by extension to your business as a whole.

 

Conclusion

Data connectors are making it easier than ever before for businesses to easily connect to and start using their essential business data. If you’re looking for an easy way to compile all your business’ data efficiently, enabling important, up-to-date insights to be made quickly, then consider implementing a data connector to reap the incomparable benefits for your business.

Check out some related resources:

Reaping the benefits of API connectors

5 ways to boost your efforts with cloud connectors

Use these tips to boost your data analysis with business intelligence

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