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Integrate Increasing Data Sources with Lightning Connect

By 10.19.15
Reading time: 2 minutes

In this world of increasing data sources; business users, managers, and executives want many data points from disparate data sources at their fingertips. This allows them to make smart, data-driven decisions. After many years of collecting data, companies end up with countless systems such as CRM, accounting, HR, and many more. Herein lies the challenge: How do you surface accounting data from system A and HR data from system B into Salesforce? Previously, this challenge has been addressed by two methods:

  • The traditional method is to implement an integration that would replicate data from System A and System B into Salesforce. The method itself works, but it involves a lot of human interaction. This increases the chance of human error, which makes it more problematic. Synchronizing data from System A and System B into Salesforce is a human effort with the help of various tools. The tools used to do this are accurate, but humans can make mistakes. You must first see if you can get the data out of Systems A and B, then you must implement a complex process to move, structure, and place the data in the desired format into Salesforce. It is easy for a person to miss a field or mistakenly point a field to a wrong destination field.
  • Another method, is to leave the data at its source, but surface the web interface of those source systems as a page, or portion of a page within Salesforce. The data is not represented by Salesforce Objects, but it does the job of presenting the data needed to make a decision without synchronization or migration efforts. This method is called canvassing. Although canvassing avoids synchronization, you can only surface that data on the pages where canvassing is implemented and allowed to be implemented.

A new method that Salesforce enables is Lightning Connect. Using this method, the data is left at its source and is represented as an external object. This means you can create related lists and detail pages. To set this up, the data source needs to provide the data via an oData service. Although there is some light configuration work to enable this method of integration, it is minimal compared to the traditional methods discussed above. If you are not familiar with oData, you can learn about it here.

To find out if your 3rd party system can provide the data via oData, simply ask the IT owner of the system or the company that provides the system. If your system does not have an oData service, there are excellent ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) tools out there that can connect to most data sources, such as MS SQL, flat files, MS Access, and Excel. These ETL tools provide an oData service with the precise information you want to surface. Salesforce Lightning Connect seamlessly connects with that service and you’re good to go.

Interested in learning more? Click here to get in touch so we can learn more about what your custom Lightning needs!

This blog originally appeared on SF for You, a blog by Silverline Technical Architect Gean Martinez. 

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