Getting Started with an Integration Competency Center (ICC)

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Getting Started with an Integration Competency Center (ICC)

Word_ICC004 In the last several posts we discussed how critical data governance programs are to the success of EDW, MDM, CDI and really any enterprise-wide integration initiatives. The corollary to data governance is an Integration Competency Center (ICC). Both involve people, processes, procedures and a lot of politics. Data governance establishes the business processes for data ownership and stewardship for an enterprise. The ICC is what implements these processes from an architecture and technology perspective.

Let’s step back and look at how IT projects, especially those with significant integration components, are generally implemented in companies today.

First, IT systems are most often built on a project-by-project basis. These projects are tactical and stand-alone. Each project starts with a clean slate: selecting integration software; acquiring skilled resources; getting training; establishing processes, procedures and standards; developing the integration application; and finally deploying it. Often, this is the first time that the team is using the integration technology, so a lot of time is spent learning the product, rather than expertly leveraging the integration technology.  (That only happens when the team has broad and deep integration knowledge and experience.)

Second, there is a historical divide with DW or BI systems and operational systems and applications, such as ERP, CRM and SCM. This divide typically involves budget, organization, projects, products and perspective. 

Third, various integration technologies, such as ETL, EAI and EII are viewed as separate, competing integration technologies. Each technology is used for a separate project, and each project team feels that it alone has the answer to the company's integration problems.

Finally, business groups have a tendency to fund and implement applications for their own needs.  (This is not surprising.) This further reinforces IT projects being organized in a silo and tactical manner.

What’s the result of all this? This bottom-up approach to integration initiatives means projects are continuing to re-invent the wheel by learning integration technologies rather than leveraging expertise in integration, gained through re-use.  It’s time to “see the forest from the trees” and establish a top-down approach to integration initiatives. Business groups are organized by function, e.g. finance and sales, shouldn’t IT think broader than their project focus? Why should each project re-invent the wheel?

If you want to implement data governance then it’s time to implement an ICC. The best way to ensure cost-effective and productive enterprise-wide integration is to implement the complementary processes of data governance and ICC.


  1. John Schmidt says:

    Rick, I agree 100% that ICC’s are a natural extension (even essential) to any enterprise-wide information management initiative. The integration project is what delivers the initial value to the enterprise, but the ICC is needed to sustain and grow the business value over time. Without a focus to sustain and leverage the integration assets on an ongoing basis, individual point integration projects simply end up adding to an already complex integration hairball.
    Check out this article from last year about the adoption of ICC’s

  2. rick sherman says:

    John, Thanks for your excellent feedback and your contribution to the field of integration. I agree wholeheartedly that ICCs, along with information governance, are cross-functional and ongoing. Leveraging information from a myriad of sources is a critical success factor key for many enterprises. Being able to do it in a cost-effective, productive & timely manner is a differentiator among those enterprises. Rick

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