What does systems integration have in common with a famous archaeological discovery? More than you might initially think. Before we dive in, let’s take a trip back to the year 1922, and to the place, UR in what is now Southern Iraq. Discovery and excavations of this mighty Sumerian city go back even further to the 1600’s. However, the excavations from 1922 to 1934 led by the archaeologist, Sir Charles Leonard Woolley, are recognized as one of the first “modern” archaeological sites excavated in a methodical way, keeping careful records, and using them to reconstruct ancient life and history.
The city itself dates back to circa 3800 BC. Among so many other Ur discoveries, Sir Charles Leonard Woolley is credited with discovering 1,850 burial sites and deemed 17 of them ‘Royal Tombs.’ Sparing the reader any gory details, and there are plenty, these tombs were filled with vast amounts of precious metals and jewelry. The treasure troves of gold have been featured in countless exhibits, and have travelled around the globe, always attracting large audiences simply to see this amount of ancient gold. Might you see where this is going?
There were many important aspects to the excavation of Ur, like uncovering details about culture, society, arts, and family life, among a multitude of other important features. Still, it was the gold which made the biggest societal impact. Thankfully, as previously mentioned, Sir Charles Leonard Woolley and his team took great pains in maintaining a methodical integration of artifacts (including treasure) to the proper place and department for further research. Now imagine if the team simply decided to excavate without a detailed plan. Imagine if the experts on the ground simply said, “Ok, yeah, let’s put the stuff over there in that pile… we can sort it out later.” Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Herein lies a simple-to-solve problem which endlessly plagues systems integration ‘experts’ to this day. As the saying goes, “Data is gold.” Data and data integration, the precious metal of our industry and lifeblood of our businesses is so often simply put aside and dealt with as an afterthought.
Proper data mapping, and planning for all attributes of the data usage must be incorporated in the initial analysis phase of any systems integration planning. Handling data as an afterthought or dealing with data during an iterative design flow is just begging for deeper budget burn and longer timelines than initially discussed and agreed upon. Done properly, data mapping will avoid burning the budget and lengthening timelines. Even more important, proper data mapping can unlock ‘operational data’ for your business, a type of strategic data ideal for internal control and operational environment information like data on your company’s workforce and more.
There is no magic wand for proper handling of data. Data mapping exercises are a crucial must-have step not to be skipped. Even when utilizing ‘Integration Process as a Service’ a data mapping exercise must be performed, simply because there will be even more ‘gold’ to handle.
Properly handling data in this day and age probably won’t grant you knighthood. Although, your client might see you as the knight in shining armor they didn’t know they needed, and that’s indeed worth something special to work toward.