There’s more data available to businesses now than ever before. But lost at sea in this data ocean are companies that have not yet made strides to better integrate their business with the information at hand. Aberdeen’s Data Integration study findings reveal what changes the industry leaders have made, as well as what challenges companies can expect to face in the near future.

Top Challenges Point to a Need for Integration

IT professionals and data scientists have different opinions as to the biggest challenge their businesses face, but both of their opinions are key to outlining why data integration is so important to growing a company. While 48% of IT professionals claim that they have insufficient IT resources to support their analytical initiatives, only 21% of data scientists feel the same. Secondly, 46% of data scientists feel that their biggest hurdle is the difficulty they have accessing data from different areas of their business, while another 30% of IT professionals agree them.

Industry leaders that have already accepted data integration as the key to a brighter future tend to have two things in common: they can access their vast wealth of different data sources with ease, and they have the processing power, either locally or in the Cloud, to make use of all of their data at once. Taking these steps can set a business up for success in the near future, and it’s easy to see why.

Today’s Analytics Demand Better Access

Many companies are using increasing amounts of non-traditional data these days. According to our findings, the average number of unique data sources companies are in control of these days is 35. Even more surprising, is that 30% of those data sources were called “inaccessible” by the people that needed to work with the data. Clearly, companies need fast access to all their available data to operate at peak efficiency.

As for what some of these “non-traditional” data sources that businesses are having trouble linking to, the most prevalent is any external data, including government data or other third-party data — and 88% of survey respondents deemed external data as “critical” or “somewhat important” to their business. Similarly high importance was given to location data, unstructured text-based data, and device or IoT data. With all these different data sources contributing very valuable yet very different information, the need to allow access to all of them simultaneously is becoming more and more pressing.

Data Integration Drives Results

So, what’s the end result of a company adopting various data integration strategies? The numbers show a very positive result. Companies using data integration reported a 9% increase in operating profit year-over-year, compared to just a 4.6% increase for companies with no DI. Furthermore, companies using DI saw an 8.1% increase in their customer base on average, compared to only a 5.2% increase for non-DI companies. By multiple metrics, companies using DI strategies outperformed their rivals that were lagging behind in proper data integration.

While most people don’t think about proper data integration right away when the topic of business analytics comes up, the successful ones do. Industry leaders know that a properly set up infrastructure throughout a company’s database is what makes a solid BI engine hum. Well, established data integration is truly the unsung hero in the BI space. Allowing data analysts access to more sets of data and giving them the tools they need to properly use it all will push your company further in the right direction: a major BI secret that’s finally getting out.