Talking about the need for data synchronization and architecting and implementing a solution are as different as night and day. It’s easy to find instances where synchronizing data from one system to another would minimize manual work, increase opportunities, and expose business insights.
Of course, implementing those use cases is another story. The average IT organization is just not to the point yet of creating easy-to-architect, straight forward data syncing solutions. There are so many unique business use cases and needs that it’s a challenge to find an existing implementation or repeatable pattern.
While the solutions don’t look the same, the process and the pain points do, and ultimately, the benefits of syncing make the effort worthwhile.
Identifying the Pain Points When Lacking Data Sync
So how do you know if you even need a syncing solution? A few scenarios make it clear you’re looking at — or stressing about — a lack of data synchronization.
For some companies, it’s when they realize that the data to power downstream systems are locked up in a single upstream system. Getting the information out of the source system and down to the places that need it likely requires multiple technologies to make this possible. It sometimes looks more like data replication than synchronization.
Sometimes it isn’t about a single data source but down to a single event with multiple subscribers, making the need for data synchronization clear. For example, you may need changes in Salesforce to propagate out to a database, a marketing tool, and a finance system. With three subscribers to a single update event, data sync could significantly increase opportunities and accelerate responses.
In fact, Salesforce provides the model for many of the common use cases we’ve seen for data synchronization.
Outbound data from Salesforce to a database is common. One use case we’ve commonly seen is that data be shared immediately when a field sales rep converts a lead to an opportunity so that the business can take action in real-time to increase sales.
We’ve seen the reverse use case be equally important. A web application pushed data from its own database back up to Salesforce, allowing the back office sales team to have the information needed to take their next steps toward a sale.
The Process of Finding a Data Sync Solution
Unfortunately, while there are use cases that can point to the need for data synchronization, finding and implementing the right solution can be a pain point of its own. After a use case is defined, the typical data sync process looks something like this:
- A Google search is done to find prior implementations or existing connectors that would speed up the project,
- If none are found, which is frequently the case, start researching tools in the marketplace that can work for your use case,
- The choices are whittled down with a bake-off signaling the best solution for the use case,
- Implement the solution with the chosen technology or find a partner like Big Compass who have worked with the technology before.
Unfortunately, this process needs to be repeated because no two syncing requirements or syncing engines are the same. Each use case is a unique snowflake and architecting for each unique solution is difficult.
Even the technologies that offer syncing capabilities are usually specific to a small subset of use cases and the technologies that they integrate with. The result? You may find a connector or solution that exists, but will still need to extend the solution or build your own because what is out there isn’t fully featured enough to handle your situation.
The Benefits of Data Syncing
Why go through all of the trouble, then? Because the advantages and benefits that data syncing gives you are well worth it.
Data syncing helps you avoid vendor lock-in. With a syncing solution in place, you can send valuable data to downstream systems instead of having it in only one location.
Making that data more available democratizes access to it because it’s easier to get at and use. This lets your organization leverage the skills you have and unlock the potential of your data:
- Inject data into business intelligence systems,
- Run queries against the data and perform data analytics,
- Build data visualizations,
- Find patterns and exploit them,
- Predict data trends.
These powerful benefits are just one facet of how synchronizing your data can expand and improve your business. But it can also streamline your current processes by automating data sharing and removing manual data synchronization. We’ve seen clients who download data into an Excel spreadsheet, manipulate the data, and then import it into another system. A manual process like this is costly, loaded with risk, and prone to errors. A data sync solution would free up time for other tasks and preserve data integrity.
A process like that isn’t just about taking up a team member’s time, though. It also results in a delay in data access. If your sales team is waiting for the latest inventory numbers to get loaded, it’s certainly slowing down your business and sales. Even if you’re uploading that data through a batch process, you’re slowing things down. A data sync solution makes that information readily available.
Addressing these challenges allows you to establish a framework and standards for synchronization across your organization. You’ll be able to implement syncing faster in the future, even when use cases are highly unique.
Data syncing is a necessary evil. If you’ve found yourself going through the steps of a Google search for a data synchronization solution, the chances are good that you won’t find what you’re looking for. That’s the unique nature of every syncing use case. If that’s the case, you’ll need to start evaluating technology solutions or look for a partner like Big Compass who has experience with a multitude of solutions and can help you quickly find the most effective solution for your organization.