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The Role of the Citizen Integrator in Ecommerce

by Laurie Smith
July 22, 2022

Ecommerce businesses generate massive amounts of structured and unstructured data from finance, sales, marketing, social media, operations, and more. Recent studies suggest that data creation will grow to more than 180 zettabytes by 2025 (one zettabyte equals a trillion gigabytes) and that data has replaced oil as the world’s most valuable resource.

For data to be truly valuable, businesses must develop capacities to profit from their data. However, according to a recent report, only 39.7% of survey respondents said they manage data as a business asset, and only 26.5% said they had created a data-driven organization.

Modern ecommerce businesses need to empower data-driven decision-making and support data democratization. For organizations pursuing business agility, the demand for process automation is needed now more than ever before – empowering the citizen integrator is at the center of a perpetual state of digital transformation.

Here, we’ll discuss how organizations can enhance their digital transformation strategies, how to derive more value from your data, and how process automation plays a critical role in future-proofing ecommerce businesses.

What is a Citizen Integrator?

Citizen integrators, also known as business technologists, are line-of-business users who are experts in their department’s processes and data. Citizen integrators are individuals who have been empowered with hyper-automation and low-code/no-integration tools to manage data warehouse pipelines, build technology or analytics capabilities for internal and external business uses, and automate their business processes independently. According to Gartner’s research, 41% of employees can be described as citizen integrators – it’s a strategic role that prepares and empowers line-of-business users to build digital capacities and accelerate digital transformation. 

Empowering the citizen integrator is essential for successful digital transformation. It allows ecommerce teams – from operations to finance, sales, marketing, and customer success – to eliminate data warehouse silos and optimize omnichannel revenue streams. 

Without a citizen integrator, ecommerce teams could wait for weeks or even months for IT resources to become available to create ad-hoc integrations. This includes transferring data from the data warehouse into business intelligence tools or through reverse ELT to bring analytical insights into the operational applications. This over-reliance on technical resources creates data silos with inaccessible and outdated data.

Recent research suggests that organizations without integration strategies and technologies empowering the citizen integrator will face dilemmas in responding to changing market forces and will lead to escalating costs. This is due to overlapping efforts, delayed deployment, and conflicting approaches to fulfilling integration requirements. Organizations that effectively support citizen integrators are 2.6 times more likely to accelerate digital transformation. 

Data Warehouse Challenges

Data warehouse integration and automation are crucial components of a comprehensive digital transformation strategy. However, it’s challenging to get data from databases, ecommerce marketplaces, ERP, CRM, and other data sources out of the data warehouse for analytics. 

Data pipeline integration tasks are time-consuming, technical tasks. The tools used to build data warehouse integrations are complex and require a programming background. Moving a single field from a source database to a target destination could take even the most skilled SQL programmer hours to achieve. 

Data warehouse pipeline tasks place pressure on IT departments and technical resources. These tasks are even more complicated for companies without specified IT resources.

Other challenges include:

  • There are insufficient technical resources to keep up with ad-hoc data integration requests from finance, sales, operations, and marketing teams. IT admins own the maintenance and support of every data warehouse integration. Every time there is a change in a data source, data pipelines can break; IT is in a constant cycle of fixing broken data pipelines.
  • Long integration project timelines become bottlenecks and hold business teams back on critical decisions. Critical business data is often outdated before it gets to the user. 
  • The data warehouse itself becomes a data swamp with siloed, outdated, inaccessible, and unusable data.

Benefits of Empowering the Citizen Integrator

Moving data integration tasks to the business user enables ecommerce businesses to respond quickly to market changes. 

Other benefits include:

For IT

Integration technology and process automation allow technical personnel more time to focus on complex queries and requests, such as curating data sets and developing operational improvement strategies. IT teams can eliminate costs related to building, maintaining, and supporting ad-hoc data warehouse integrations.

For Finance

Finance teams have real-time visibility to accurately represent the economic volatility or activity with invoicing, revenues, and subscription metrics to predict future cash positions and avoid cash shortages. They can eliminate manual data dumps and management of multiple spreadsheets that result in static, outdated reports. Finance teams can create real-time reports from trusted data that improve the speed, accuracy, and value of financial reporting, forecasting, and analysis.

For Operations

Access to real-time data improves operational efficiency. Operations teams can measure key performance metrics around order-to- fulfillment rates, stock-outs, order cancellations, cart abandonment, etc. to identify areas for operational improvement.

Who Can Be a Citizen Integrator?

Ultimately, anyone can be a citizen integrator – any individual who understands the specific departmental business processes within the ecommerce organization. 

Some examples include:

  • Ecommerce Finance and Accounting Departments: Individuals integrating payment services with invoicing; teams needing to integrate and sync data from several financial systems (e.g., NetSuite, QuickBooks, Sage, Salesforce) for analytics.
  • Ecommerce Marketing Managers or Specialists: There are numerous use cases for marketing professionals, including syncing customer, contact, and other data across all applications (e.g., Campaign Monitor, HubSpot, Marketo, Salesforce, Zoho) as well as visualizing marketing data from promotional efforts and channels to gain insights into ad spend and marketing efforts.
  • Ecommerce Admin or Manager:  Teams must identify the most profitable products and sales channels and sort out slow-selling and underperforming sales. They can sync contacts, records, leads, and sales data from ERPs, CRMs, fulfillment, and operational apps.
  • Ecommerce Customer Support: The support manager can integrate the helpdesk ticketing systems (such as Zendesk) to gain insights to improve support and service timeframes. 

Unlocking the Value in Your Ecommerce Data

Integration technology and process automation accelerate digital transformation and operational agility. With the right tech stack and processes in place, you can quickly empower ecommerce teams to improve communications, eliminate silos, and optimize omnichannel revenue streams. 

The modern iPaaS can accelerate digital transformation in multiple ways:

  • iPaaS integration with data warehousing business process automation can easily integrate and automate data from ecommerce operational applications and ingest that data into a data warehouse. 
  • End-users can then export data from the data warehouse via reverse ETL back into the operational apps or a BI tool for data visualization and analytics. 
  • Less technical business users can create their own insights. They can monitor and troubleshoot data pipelines through easy-to-understand integration flows. 

Future-proof Your Ecommerce Business with Automation 

Tomorrow’s market demands a process automation platform for companies to succeed. Process automation and citizen integrator empowerment are at the center of holistic digital transformation. However, partial automation with select teams is not enough. To discover the full potential of digital transformation, companies must adopt the technology, processes, and culture to drive a continuous, automation-first mindset at every level of the organization.

Celigo is a complete integration and process automation leader, providing an integration platform for end-to-end automation, creating efficiencies, reducing costs, decreasing risk, and freeing valuable resources.


→ Try the Celigo Platform for free.