Have you ever thought about how important synchronization is?
When we're listening to music or watching a concert, all the musicians and instruments need to be synchronized. Otherwise, we're just listening to a lot of disparate sounds that don't make sense.
Our clocks all need to be in sync, too – if each clock told a different time, daily life would be complete chaos. We would never be able to make deadlines, catch flights, or even properly communicate with one another.
The same principle applies to business. If an organization's departments, goals, and software applications are not in sync, there's no way the business can move forward and grow.
And, while many business owners know that aligning departments and goals is important, a lot of them also overlook the importance of synchronizing business data.
Let's take a look at what data synchronization is, why it's important, and how to implement it in your business.
What Does Data Synchronization Mean?
Data synchronization is the process of consolidating data across different sources and software applications, making sure that the data within all of your systems is consistent. Data synchronization is about keeping the data consistent over time too, so it's a continuous process that applies for existing and new data.
Each business collects and handles data through dozens of different apps, with some companies working with well over 100 software tools to run the business. With all this information coming in from so many different sources, it's easy for your databases to become disjointed and disorganized if they're not talking to one another.
When business data is not in sync, it can lead to all sorts of negative effects, such as:
- You get data silos.
- Different applications show conflicting or duplicate data.
- You have low-quality or outdated data.
- You have too much data and aren't sure what parts of it are actually useful.
- Your teams are having trouble collaborating and communicating effectively.
- Customer support reps can't see customers' full history with the company, making them repeat themselves several times when they're looking for help.
- It's hard to build accurate, actionable, and comprehensible reports based on data-driven insights because this data is scattered across too many different tools.
So, just like our clocks need to be consistent in telling the same time, your business data and applications also need to be in sync. Synchronized data means that you can have a crystal-clear view of all aspects of the business, produce reliable and actionable reports, make informed decisions, communicate transparently, and align your departments towards common goals.
Data Synchronization vs. Data Integration
If you've seen some of our other articles talking about data integration, all this might sound familiar. So the question arises: what's the difference between data integration and synchronization?
The truth is that these two concepts can indeed be similar, but they're not exactly synonymous. Data integration means combining two or more pieces of software so that they're working in tandem. Synchronization is a type of integration in which data is kept consistent between two or more databases.
There are lots of different ways to achieve integration. However, unlike other integration processes, synchronization has the power to keep databases in continuous communication - the keyword being "keep", as it's an ongoing process between different tools.
In a nutshell, data synchronization is a type of integration, but not all integration processes result in a true sync of the data.
Data Synchronization vs. Data Pushes
Another important distinction is between data synchronization and data pushes. They're both types of data integration, but they achieve different results.
When you employ an integration solution to push data from one app into another, you're taking data from app A and sending it to app B as soon as the data is created. So, instead of having to manually create the data in app A and app B, app B will automatically receive the data from app A.
An example of a data push automation would be: "when someone enters an email address on my landing page form, send the email address to my email marketing app."
Data syncing, on the other hand, is about mirroring any changes and new updates made in app A into app B in real time. Some data syncing solutions allow you to choose two-way syncs, which means also mirroring the changes made in app B back into app A.
It's important to note that the data synchronization process can work two ways, while data pushes only work one way. While you can create one data push from app A to app B, and then a separate data push from app B to app A, it's a much clunkier process and may result in duplicate data.
Another important difference is that data synchronization takes into account historical data – that is, data that was created before the sync was set up. The syncing tool can scan your databases in an initial sync and send data from one app into another to make sure they're both equal. Meanwhile, data pushes only work for data created after the automation was set up. It doesn't take into account any data stored before that.
In addition, if you need to sync segments of your data in different ways, you need to create multiple data pushes that work independently from one another, so they may overlap or even cancel each other out. A data syncing tool, on the other hand, automatically allows you to maintain any segmentation you may have applied to your data between apps.
How to Synchronize Data
So how exactly can your business achieve beautifully synced and organized databases? It's simpler than it sounds!
There are three main ways of integrating apps: native integrations (offered by the vendors of the apps you're already using), custom integrations (built by your in-house team for your company's specific needs), and third-party integration platforms, or Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) providers.
Native integrations can be great to automate certain workflows and serve a lot of common use cases, they usually only work one way. With the exception of native integrations products like Operations Hub that offer complete synchronization. Native integrations tend to be more in the data pushes category rather than data syncs.
Custom integrations can achieve a true data sync, but building software to keep data in sync two ways and in real time is no small feat – it can take a long time to build this, and it's certainly not cheap.
iPaaS are third-party, cloud-based solutions that specialize in integrating business tools. There are a lot of different types of iPaaS tools, not all of which work best for data synchronization. In addition, those that do specialize in data syncing often sync different types of data, so they can be used in tandem. Let's take a look at some of the top iPaaS solutions that focus on data syncing.
Example of Data Synchronization iPaaS Tools
1. UnitoUnito excels in integrating and synchronizing data across popular project management tools such as Asana, Jira, and Teamwork. It allows you to build customizable two-way integrations to create a seamless flow of data between your tools, as well as building workflows with a simple drag-and-drop designer.
Unito use cases include:
- Automatically keep projects up-to-date across multiple project management platforms
- Allow stakeholders to automatically track KPIs and progress on key projects
- Build complex workflows for software development, including backlogs and roadmaps
- Coordinate project development and tasks across several teams
SkySync enables organizations to migrate and classify data across systems. It specializes in migrating system files, syncing data across storage platforms, and synchronizing hybrid data storage systems.
SkySync can deliver solutions for migrating and syncing files on scale. Unlike Unito, SkySync can sync files between cloud applications as well as on-premises solutions, addressing enterprise clients as well as smaller businesses.
SkySync use cases include:
- Intelligently analyze, migrate, copy, and synchronize content at scale
- Synchronize data storage platforms on-premises and on the cloud
- Classify company-wide data and files
- Easily discover sensitive, high-risk, obsolete, duplicate, or redundant data
What about Zapier?
Zapier is one of the most well-known iPaaS solutions in the market, as it provides automation options for thousands of apps and use cases. However, Zapier is a different type of iPaaS than the ones we mentioned in this list.
While Unito and SkySync focus on syncing different types of data two ways, Zapier specializes in automating workflows between apps based on trigger-action principles. It mainly comes down to the differences between data synchronization and data pushes we previously talked about: Zapier performs one-way, one-time data pushes between apps, so it's not optimal when trying to achieve a true synchronization of data between systems.
Get In Sync
There's no shortage of choices when it comes to data synchronization solutions, so it's important to make sure you have a clear strategy that answers these key questions:
- What type of data do you want to sync?
- What type of software applications do you want to integrate?
- How do you want your data to flow between your apps?
If you have a native integration within the applications you are using and it solves your operational challenge, go for it. That's the easiest, safest, and more intuitive way to sync data.
If you need an iPaaS, keep in mind that the main differences between Unito and SkySync come down to the fact that they sync different types of data, support different categories of apps, and serve different use cases.
That means that you can definitely use them side by side if you want to, and you can even use them alongside other iPaaS tools like Zapier to create a fine-tuned, smooth-running technology ecosystem.