ETL Vs. EAI

Over recent years, business enterprises relying on accurate and consistent data to make informed decisions have been gravitating towards integration technologies. The subject of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and Extraction, Transformation & Loading (ETL) lately seems to pop up in most Enterprise Information Management conversations.

From an architectural perspective, both techniques share a striking similarity. However, they essentially serve different purposes when it comes to information management. We’ve decided to do a little bit of research and establish the differences between the two integration technologies.

Enterprise Application Integration

EAI is an integration framework that consists of technologies and services, allowing for seamless coordination of vital systems, processes, as well as databases across an enterprise.

Simply put, this integration technique simplifies and automates your business processes to a whole new level without necessarily having to make major changes to your existing data structures or applications.

With EAI, your business can integrate essential systems like supply chain management, customer relationship management, business intelligence, enterprise resource planning, and payroll. Well, the linking of these apps can be done at the back end via APIs or the front end GUI.

The systems in question might use different databases, computer languages, exist on different operating systems or older systems that might not be supported by the vendor anymore.

The objective of EAI is to develop a single, unified view of enterprise data and information, as well as ensure the information is correctly stored, transmitted, and reflected. It enables existing applications to communicate and share data in real-time.

Extraction, Transformation & Loading

The general purpose of an ETL system is to extract data out of one or more source databases and then transfer it to a target destination system for better user decision making. Data in the target system is usually presented differently from the sources.

The extracted data goes through the transformation phase, which involves checking for data integrity and converting the data into a proper storage format or structure. It is then moved into other systems for analysis or querying function.

With data loading, it typically involves writing data into the target database destination like data warehouse and operational data store.

ETL can integrate data from multiple systems. The systems we’re talking about in this case are often hosted on separate computer hardware or supported by different vendors.

Differences between ETL and EAI

EAI System

  • Retrieves small amounts of data in one operation and is characterized by a high number of transactions
  • EAI system is utilized for process optimization and workflow
  • The system does not require user involvement after it’s implemented
  • Ensures a bi-directional data flow between the source and target applications
  • Ideal for real-time business data needs
  • Limited data validation
  • Integrating operations is pull, push, and event-driven.

ETL System

  • It is a one-way process of creating a historical record from homogeneous or heterogeneous sources
  • Mainly designed to process large batches of data from source systems
  • Requires extensive user involvement
  • Meta-data driven complex transformations
  • Integrating operation is a pull, query-driven
  • Supports proper profiling and data cleaning
  • Limited messaging capabilities

Both integration technologies are an essential part of EIM, as they provide strong capabilities for business intelligence initiatives and reporting. They can be used differently and sometimes in mutual consolidation.

Personas Vs. Roles – What Is The Difference?

Personas and roles are user modeling approaches that are applied in the early stages of system development or redesign. They drive the design decision and allows programmers and designers to place everyday user needs at the forefront of their system development journey in a user-centered design approach.

Personas and user roles help improve the quality of user experience when working with products that require a significant amount of user interaction. But there is a distinct difference between technology personas vs. roles. What then exactly is a persona? What are user roles in system development? And, how does persona differ from user roles?

Let’s see how these two distinct, yet often confused, user models fit in a holistic user-centered design process and how you can leverage them to identify valuable product features.

Technology Personas Vs. Roles – The Most Relevant Way to Describe Users

In software development, a user role describes the relationship between a user type and a software tool. It is generally the user’s responsibility when using a system or the specific behavior of a user who is participating in a business process. Think of roles as the umbrella, homogeneous constructs of the users of a particular system. For instance, in an accounting system, you can have roles such as accountant, cashier, and so forth.

However, by merely using roles, system developers, designers, and testers do not have sufficient information to conclusively make critical UX decisions that would make the software more user-centric, and more appealing to its target users.

This lack of understanding of the user community has led to the need for teams to move beyond role-based requirements and focus more on subsets of the system users. User roles can be refined further by creating “user stand-ins,” known as personas. By using personas, developers and designers can move closer to the needs and preferences of the user in a more profound manner than they would by merely relying on user roles.

In product development, user personas are an archetype of a fictitious user that represents a specific group of your typical everyday users. First introduced by Alan Cooper, personas help the development team to clearly understand the context in which the ideal customer interacts with a software/system and helps guide the design decision process.

Ideally, personas provide team members with a name, a face, and a description for each user role. By using personas, you’re typically personalizing the user roles, and by so doing, you end up creating a lasting impression on the entire team. Through personas, team members can ask questions about the users.

The Benefits of Persona Development

Persona development has several benefits, including:

  • They help team members have a consistent understanding of the user group.
  • They provide stakeholders with an opportunity to discuss the critical features of a system redesign.
  • Personas help designers to develop user-centric products that have functions and features that the market already demands.
  • A persona helps to create more empathy and a better understanding of the person that will be using the end product. This way, the developers can design the product with the actual user needs in mind.
  • Personas can help predict the needs, behaviors, and possible reactions of the users to the product.

What Makes Up a Well-Defined Persona?

Once you’ve identified user roles that are relevant to your product, you’ll need to create personas for each. A well-defined persona should ideally take into consideration the needs, goals, and observed behaviors of your target audience. This will influence the features and design elements you choose for your system.

The user persona should encompass all the critical details about your ideal user and should be presented in a memorable way that everyone in the team can identify with and understand. It should contain four critical pieces of information.

1. The header

The header aid in improving memorability and creating a connection between the design team and the user. The header should include:

  • A fictional name
  • An image, avatar or a stock photo
  • A vivid description/quote that best describes the persona as it relates to the product.

2. Demographic Profile

Unlike the name and image, which might be fictitious, the demographic profile includes factual details about the ideal user. The demographic profile includes:

  • Personal background: Age, gender, education, ethnicity, persona group, and family status
  • Professional background: Occupation, work experience, and income level.
  • User environment. It represents the social, physical, and technological context of the user. It answers questions like: What devices do the user have? Do they interact with other people? How do they spend their time?
  • Psychographics: Attitudes, motivations, interests, and user pain points.

3. End Goal(s)

End goals help answer the questions: What problems or needs will the product solution to the user? What are the motivating factors that inspire the user’s actions?

4. Scenario

This is a narrative that describes how the ideal user would interact with your product in real-life to achieve their end goals. It should explain the when, the where, and the how.

Conclusion

For a truly successful user-centered design approach, system development teams should use personas to provide simple descriptions of key user roles. While a distinct difference exists in technology personas vs. roles, design teams should use the two user-centered design tools throughout the project to decide and evaluate the functionality of their end product. This way, they can deliver a useful and usable solution to their target market.

A 720-Degree View of the Customer

The 360-degree view of the consumer is a well-explored concept, but it is not adequate in the digital age. Every firm, whether it is Google or Amazon, is deploying tools to understand customers in a bid to serve them better. A 360-degree view demanded that a company consults its internal data to segment customers and create marketing strategies. It has become imperative for companies to look outside their channels, to platforms like social media and reviews to gain insight into the motivations of their customers. The 720-degree view of the customer is further discussed below.

What is the 720-degree view of the customer?

A 720-degree view of the customer refers to a three-dimensional understanding of customers, based on deep analytics. It includes information on every customer’s level of influence, buying behavior, needs, and patterns. A 720-degree view will enable retailers to offer relevant products and experiences and to predict future behavior. If done right, this concept should assist retailers leverage on emerging technologies, mobile commerce, social media, and cloud-based services, and analytics to sustain lifelong customer relationships

What Does a 720-Degree View of the Customer Entail?

Every business desires to cut costs, gain an edge over its competitors, and grow their customer base. So how exactly will a 720-degree view of the customer help a firm advance its cause?

Social Media

Social media channels help retailers interact more effectively and deeply with their customers. It offers reliable insights into what customers would appreciate in products, services, and marketing campaigns. Retailers can not only evaluate feedback, but they can also deliver real-time customer service. A business that integrates its services with social media will be able to assess customer behavior through tools like dislikes and likes. Some platforms also enable customers to buy products directly.

Customer Analytics


Customer analytics will construct more detailed customer profiles by integrating different data sources like demographics, transactional data, and location. When this internal data is added to information from external channels like social media, the result is a comprehensive view of the customer’s needs and wants. A firm will subsequently implement more-informed decisions on inventory, supply chain management, pricing, marketing, customer segmentation, and marketing. Analytics further come in handy when monitoring transactions, personalized services, waiting times, website performance.

Mobile Commerce

The modern customer demands convenience and device compatibility. Mobile commerce also accounts for a significant amount of retail sales, and retailers can explore multi-channel shopping experiences. By leveraging a 720-degree view of every customer, firms can provide consumers with the personalized experiences and flexibility they want. Marketing campaigns will also be very targeted as they will be based on the transactional behaviors of customers. Mobile commerce can take the form of mobile applications for secure payment systems, targeted messaging, and push notifications to inform consumers of special offers. The goal should be to provide differentiated shopper analytics.

Cloud

Cloud-based solutions provide real-time data across multiple channels, which illustrates an enhanced of the customer. Real-time analytics influence decision-making in retail and they also harmonize the physical and retail digital environments. The management will be empowered to detect sales trends as transactions take place.

The Importance of the 720-Degree Customer View

Traditional marketers were all about marketing to groups of similar individuals, which is often termed as segmentation. This technique is, however, giving way to the more effective concept of personalized marketing. Marketing is currently channeled through a host of platforms, including social media, affiliate marketing, pay-per-click, and mobile. The modern marketer has to integrate the information from all these sources and match them to a real name and address. Companies can no longer depend on a fragmented view of the customer, as there has to be an emphasis on personalization. A 720-degree customer view can offer benefits like:

Customer Acquisition

Firms can improve customer acquisition by depending on the segment differences revealed from a new database of customer intelligence. Consumer analytics will expose any opportunities to be taken advantage of while external data sources will reveal competitor tactics. There are always segment opportunities in any market, which are best revealed by real-time consumer data.

Cutting Costs

Marketers who rely on enhanced digital data can contribute to cost management in a firm. It takes less investment to serve loyal and satisfied consumers because a firm is directing addressing their needs. Technology can be used to set customized pricing goals and to segment customers effectively.

New Products and Pricing

Real-time data, in addition to third-party information, have a crucial impact on pricing. Only firms with a robust and relevant competitor and customer analytics and data can take advantage of this importance. Marketers with a 720-degree view of the consumer across many channels will be able to utilize opportunities for new products and personalized pricing to support business growth

Advance Customer Engagement

The first 360 degrees include an enterprise-wide and timely view of all consumer interactions with the firm. The other 360 degrees consists of the customer’s relevant online interactions, which supplements the internal data a company holds. The modern customer is making their buying decisions online, and it is where purchasing decisions are influenced. Can you predict a surge in demand before your competitors? A 720-degree view will help you anticipate trends while monitoring the current ones.

720-degree Customer View and Big Data

Firms are always trying to make decision making as accurate as possible, and this is being made more accessible by Big Data and analytics. To deliver customer-centric experiences, businesses require a 720-degree view of every customer collected with the help of in-depth analysis.

Big Data analytical capabilities enable monitoring of after-sales service-associated processes and the effective management of technology for customer satisfaction. A firm invested in being in front of the curve should maintain relevant databases of external and internal data with global smart meters. Designing specific products to various segments is made easier with the use of Big Data analytics. The analytics will also improve asset utilization and fault prediction. Big Data helps a company maintain a clearly-defined roadmap for growth

Conclusion

It is the dream of every enterprise to tap into customer behavior and create a rich profile for each customer. The importance of personalized customer experiences cannot be understated in the digital era. The objective remains to develop products that can be advertised and delivered to customers who want them, via their preferred platforms, and at a lower cost. 

What is a Private Cloud?

The private cloud concept is running the cloud software architecture and, possibly specialized hardware, within a companies’ own facilities and support by the customer’s own employees, rather than having it hosted from a data center operated by commercial providers like Amazon, IBM Microsoft, or Oracle.

A companies’ private (internal) cloud may be a one or more of these patterns and may be part of a larger hybrid-cloud strategy.

  • Home-Grown, where the company has built its own software and or hardware could infrastructure where the private could is managed entirely by the companies’ resources. 
  • Commercial-Off-The-Self (COTS), where the cloud software and or hardware is purchased from a commercial vendor and install in the companies promises where is it is primarily managed by the companies’ resources with licensed technical support from the vendor.
  • Appliance-Centric, where vendor specialty hardware and software are pre-assembled and pre-optimized, usually on proprietary databases to support a specific cloud strategic.
  • Hybrid-Cloud, which may use some or all of the about approaches and have added components such as:
    • Virtualization software to integrate, private-cloud, public-cloud, and non-cloud information resources into a central delivery architecture.
    • Public/Private cloud where proprietary and customer sensitive information is kept on promise and less sensitive information is housed in one or more public clouds. The Public/Private hybrid-cloud strategy can also be provision temporary short duration increases in computational resources or where application and information development occur in the private cloud and migrated to a public cloud for productionalization.

In the modern technological era, there are a variety of cloud patterns, but this explanation highlights the major aspects of the private cloud concept which should clarify and assist in strategizing for your enterprise cloud.

Related References

What is cloud computing? 

Cloud computing is a service driven model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on demand network access to a shared pool computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal administrative effort or service provider interaction.

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A Road Map For Migrating To A Public Cloud

Cloud Migration
Cloud Migration

A Road Map for Migrating to A Public Cloud Environment

Today, most organizations are looking for ways to cut down their sprawling IT budgets and define efficient paths for new developments. Making the move to the cloud is being seen as a more strategic and an economically viable idea, that is primarily allowing organizations to gain quick access to new platforms, services, and toolsets. But the migration of applications to the cloud environment needs a clear, and well-thought-out cloud migration strategy.

We are past the year of confusion and fear on matters cloud environment. In fact, almost everyone now agrees that the cloud is a key element of any company’s IT investment. What is not yet clear is what to move, how to move, and industry best practices to protect your investment in a public cloud environment. Therefore, a solid migration plan is an essential part of any cloud migration process.

Here are a few things you should pay close attention to when preparing a cloud migration planning template:

  • Data Protection

When planning to migrate to the cloud, it is paramount to remember that it is not a good idea to migrate every application. As you learn the baby steps, keep your legacy apps and other sensitive data such as private banking info off the cloud. This will ensure that, in case of a breach on your public cloud, your sensitive data and legacy systems will not fall into the hands of unsavory individuals.

  • Security

Security of the data being migrated to the cloud should be just as important as on the cloud. Any temporary storage locations used during the cloud migration process should be secure from unauthorized intrusions.

Although security can be hard to quantify, it is one of the key components and considerations of any cloud service. The very basic security responsibility includes getting it right around your password security. Remember that, while you can massively increase the security around your applications, it is practically very different to deal with on-cloud threats and breaches since you technically don’t own any of the cloud software.

Some of the security concerns that you’ll need to look into include:

  • Is your data securely transferred and stored in the cloud?
  • Besides the passwords, does your cloud provider offer some type of 2-factor authentication?
  • How else are the users authenticated?
  • Does your provider meet the industry’s regulatory requirements?
  • Backup and Disaster recovery strategies

A backup and disaster strategy ensure that your data will be protected in case of a disaster. These strategies are unique to every organization depending on its application needs and the relevance of those applications to their organization.

To devise a foolproof DR strategy, it is important to identify and prioritize applications and determine the downtime acceptable for each application, services, and data.

Some of the things to consider when engineering your backup and disaster recovery blueprint include:

  • Availability of sufficient bandwidth and network capacity to redirect all users in case of a disaster.
  • Amount of data that may require backup.
  • Type of data to be protected
  • How long can it take to restore your systems from the cloud?
  • Communications Capacity enablement

Migrating to a cloud environment should make your business more agile and responsive to the market. Therefore, a robust communications enablement should be provided. Ideally, your cloud provider should be able to provide you with a contact center, unified messaging, mobility, presence, and integration with other business applications.

While the level of sophistication and efficiency of on-premise communications platforms depends on the capabilities of the company IT’s staff, cloud environments should offer communication tools with higher customizations to increase productivity.

A highly customized remote communications enablement will allow your company to refocus its IT resources to new innovation, spur agility, cut down on hardware costs and allow for more engagements with partners and customers.

Simply put, cloud communications:

  • Increase efficiency and productivity
  • Enables reimagined experience
  • Are designed for a seamless interaction.
  • legal liability and protection

Other important considerations when developing your cloud migration planning template are compliance with regulatory requirements and software licensing. For many businesses, data protection and regulatory compliance with HIPPA and GDPR is a constant concern, especially when dealing with identifiable data. Getting this right, the first time will allow you to move past the compliance issue blissfully.

When migrating, look for a cloud provider with comprehensive security assurance programs and governance-focused features. This will help your business operate more secure and in line with industry standards.

Ready to migrate your processes to a public cloud environment? Follow these pointers develop a comprehensive cloud migration planning template.

Related References

Public Cloud Versus Private Cloud

Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing

A public cloud strategy refers to a situation where you utilize cloud resources on a shared platform. Examples of shared or public cloud solutions include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google cloud. There are several benefits associated with cloud solutions. On the other hand, a private cloud strategy refers to a situation where you can decide to have an infrastructure which is dedicated to serving your business. It is sometimes referred to as homegrown where you employ experts to run the services so that your business can access different features. There are several advantages of using a public cloud over private cloud which you should know before you make an informed decision on the right platform to invest. Some of the benefits of the public cloud strategy include the following:

Availability and scale of Expertise

If you compare the public cloud and the private cloud services, the public cloud

allows you to access more experts. Remember the companies which offer the cloud services have enough employees who are ready to help several clients. In most cases, the other clients whom the service providers serve will not experience problems at the same time. It implies that human resource will be directed toward solving your urgent issue. You can as well scale up or down at any given time as the need arises which is unlike a case of private cloud solutions where you will have to invest in infrastructure each time you will like to upgrade.

Downgrading on a private cloud system can expose you to lose because you will leave some resources underutilized.

The volume of Technical Resources to apply

You access more technical resources in a public cloud platform. Remember the companies which offer the public cloud solutions are fully equipped with highly experienced experts. They also have the necessary tools and resources which

they can apply to assure you the best technical solutions each time you need them. It is unlike a private arrangement where you will have to incur more costs if the technical challenges will need advanced tools and highly qualified experts.

Price point

The price of a private cloud is high when compared to a public arrangement. If you are looking for ways you can save money, then the best way to go about it is to involve a public cloud solution. In the shared platform, you will only pay for

what you need. If you do not need a lot of resources at a given time, you can downgrade the services and enjoy fair prices. Services such as AWS offer great cost containment across the time which makes it easy to access the services at fair prices. For any business to grow, it should invest in the right package which brings the return on investment. The services offered by the public cloud systems allow businesses to save and grow. You should as well take into consideration other factors such as ecosystems for cloud relationships before you make an informed decision. There are some business models which prefer private cloud solutions while others can work well under public cloud-based solutions.

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