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How to Justify Data Virtualization Investments

Compelling technology also requires a compelling business case

Proving compelling return is critical for any investment today.  This is especially important for IT investments which are often an enterprise or government agency's largest capital expense.

Technology for technology's sake does not cut it.  Increasing business complexities and a plethora of technology choices creates greater-than-ever demands for diligence when making IT investments.

IT Business Case 101
IT business cases must demonstrate value through tangible business and IT metrics that align with the strategic objectives of the business units that they serve.

Further, not only must this value be proven, it must be proven early in the acquisition process to justify technology evaluation efforts and then re-proven again after implementation to justify expanded adoption.

Data Virtualization Value Propositions
There are many ways that data virtualization can deliver value to your business functions and IT operations.  These include:

  • Sales Growth
  • Risk Reduction
  • Time Savings
  • Technology Savings
  • Staff Savings

Sales Growth
Sales growth is an important indicator of an enterprise's success. In the public sector where revenue is not the measure, this objective is often called mission effectiveness.   Sales growth can result from many strategies including improved offerings, better customer support, faster market response, and more.

Data virtualization lets you integrate data from multiple sources quickly. As a result, you can provide more complete data to your revenue-producing and customer-facing staff so they can make better sales related business decisions.

Data virtualization lets you reach difficult to access data and deliver that data to consuming applications in near real time. Armed with fresher data, your revenue-producing and customer-facing staff decision making is more timely and accurate, in many cases yielding sales growth.

Data virtualization provides data discovery capabilities that let you reduce time wasted searching for information.  Further, automated modeling eliminates many of the detailed modeling and validation activities that would otherwise extend elapsed times and add labor content on your projects.  With quicker time to solution, your new sales-impacting applications and their associated revenues are available sooner.

Risk Reduction
Risk reduction has becoming increasingly important as a result of growing complexity and regulation. Becoming more agile in response to risk and ensuring compliance with changing regulations and mandates are but a few of the strategies you can use to reduce risk.

Data virtualization lets you combine disparate data from multiple sources.  As a result, your risk and compliance staffs increase their visibility over potential risks.  Real-time query capabilities improve the timeliness of your data so you can remediate risk issues faster.  Data virtualization accelerates new risk management and compliance reporting application development, thereby delivering their associated risk reducing benefits sooner.

Time Savings
Time is of the essence, especially as your business or government agency responds to an ever changing environment.   New information systems must deliver more data while also reducing the latency between business event and business response.  As a result, IT is under constant pressure to provide these new information systems and their associated information more quickly.

Data services built with data virtualization are reusable across multiple applications.  This lessens new coding efforts, saving development time for both new applications and existing ones where changes are needed.

In addition, query optimization capabilities enable you to improve query performance as well and lessen their impact on source systems.  This reduces data latencies, speeding the delivery of critical information to users thereby accelerate effective business response.

Technology Savings
With support for existing technology infrastructure consuming an ever greater share of IT spend, finance is scrutinizing this spend more than ever.  Storage, server, and applications virtualization has demonstrated huge information technology savings.

Data virtualization provides similar savings by requiring fewer physical data repositories along with the technology required to build and operate them. This in turn means less rack space, electricity, air conditioning, management software and other facilities costs.  Many data virtualization users find that these technology infrastructure savings alone can justify their entire data virtualization investment.   As such, this is a great place to start when you want to show easily justifiable ROI.

Staff Savings
The cost of the internal and external staff is one of your largest IT expenditures.  Reducing labor required by substituting tools for labor is one strategy.  Improving productivity by improving your SDLC processes is another.  Simplifying work to allow substitution of lower skilled staff is a third.  Data virtualization supports all these strategies.

Data virtualization's GUI development environment lets you simplify and automate the detailed design and development work that would otherwise require far more technically capable staff.  With fewer skills required, you spend less money on expensive consultants and you can redeploy highly skilled staff to other, more critical work.

Data virtualization lets your quickly validate new reporting solutions with your business users using live data early in the development process.   This lets you share insights, improve solution effectiveness and avoid rework.

Further, because data virtualization enables you to integrate data without the need for physical data repositories, fewer IT operations staff are required.

Sum Up the Data Virtualization Savings
As you have seen, there are many ways that data virtualization can deliver value to business and IT.   This value has been proven across multiple industries and use cases.

For more in-depth tools that can help you calculate these benefits, my company, Composite Software, provides a Data Virtualization Value Framework.

More Stories By Robert Eve

Robert Eve is the EVP of Marketing at Composite Software, the data virtualization gold standard and co-author of Data Virtualization: Going Beyond Traditional Data Integration to Achieve Business Agility. Bob's experience includes executive level roles at leading enterprise software companies such as Mercury Interactive, PeopleSoft, and Oracle. Bob holds a Masters of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science from the University of California at Berkeley.