Integration of data is the process of combining different data types into one or more shared universal formats. This process is integral to business as each unit within an organization can use different data types and therefore lack a unified view. Data itself can be of various types such as flat files defined externally or delimited by a common data separator. Data can also be stored in various kinds of databases, each with a unique method for defining and storing data.
For users of differing applications to view and use each others’ data it must be converted to the format of the other applications or to a universally defined format as is done through EDI transmissions. A data integration product makes this process seamless and fully integrated into a user application system. The software can either convert each application data type into every other type (a many to many conversion) or from one data type to a universal format – then from the universal format to a specific data type (a many to one conversion).
The use of a universal format is preferred as this makes it possible for each user to create applications and conversions based on an agreed upon standard (such as EDI: X12, EDIFACT, etc.). This will also removes the requirement that each system be aware of the file formatting or application setup/configurations used by the remote system. Each user employs the Integration software to map their data into a common and agreed upon standard…and vice-versa.