Data warehouses fixed one aspect of the data silo problem but introduced another. They function as a large, single source of truth for your organization, but getting insights from this data in a typical Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) data pipeline requires the use of Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics platforms. By the time your data team creates these reports and sends them to other business units, it’s too late for daily decision-making. A growing trend, reverse ETL, offers a method for addressing the data warehouse silo and slow time to insights. 

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Table of Contents

  1. What is Reverse ETL
  2. Benefits of Reverse ETL
  3. Reverse ETL Use Cases
  4. Reverse ETL Trends

What is Reverse ETL 

A typical ETL data flow extracts data from databases, data stores, and business applications, transforms this data to meet defined requirements, and then loads it into data warehouses and data leaks. 

At that point, this data pipeline is complete. When you add reverse ETL into the equation, however, your extraction point is the data warehouse. You use this technology to apply transformations to this data and then load it into the operational systems used by employees every day. 

Benefits of Reverse ETL 

Reverse ETL allows your organization to operationalize your data warehouse in many beneficial ways:

  • Integrate data insights into daily business systems: Workers can easily review data insights through the platforms they already use. They don’t need to switch to another panel to view reports, allowing them to quickly act on the available information. 
  • Speed up time to insights: Reverse ETL solutions automate these data flows, so you can quickly move this data through each stage. Your operational systems receive frequently updated information, which helps your organization make better daily decisions. 
  • Offer more complete information: Your business applications end up with data that is enriched from many additional sources, which is particularly useful for the customer, sales, and marketing systems. 
  • Streamlines data reporting processes: Business units can use a reverse ETL solution to set up customized data pipelines for their specific data needs. They get the exact information they need from the data warehouse using consistent and automated tools. 
  • Improves data quality: You may take data through a cleansing process during the ETL and reverse ETL transformation steps. Once this data moves back into business applications, you have addressed potential data quality issues. 

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Reverse ETL Use Cases 

Reverse ETL, in general, excels at connecting data warehouses with applications that can use these data sets for daily operations. BI and analytics solutions are better suited for working with strategic decision-making, long-term planning, and big picture views among leadership roles. 

One of the best use cases for reverse ETL is with your organization’s customer relationship management platform. Think about all the sources filled with customer data, spread throughout various databases, applications, and other systems of record. Not having a complete picture of your customers can create negative experiences, which may impact your revenue, reputation, and market share. When your customer-centric systems can pull data from the complete data warehouse, you empower your teams with the information they need to keep customers satisfied. 

Reverse ETL is also excellent at helping your customer acquisition efforts, from specialized sales tools to your marketing platforms. Your teams can dive deep into these data sets to learn more about prospects and audiences, allowing them to better focus their efforts on promising segments. 

If you have a data lake with large volumes of unstructured data, you can also use reverse ETL as a way to transform these data sets into formats that are suitable for your operational systems. Since data is often bulk loaded into data lakes without any cleansing, you can also fix data quality issues as it moves through the reverse ETL pipeline. 

Of course, your organization is not limited to these use cases. There are many destinations that can benefit from your data warehouses, from your business communication tools to your databases. You simply need to look at your business operations and ask yourself where data can help out the most.

Reverse ETL Trends 

Reverse ETL is not a mature technology yet, as it only recently started to gain popularity. As this technology continues to evolve, it will unlock more use cases for organizations looking to maximize the value of their data. Multiple reverse ETL platforms are available, allowing organizations to avoid the resource-intensive process of building their own connections between data warehouses and business systems. These third-party tools make it easier to implement reverse ETL data flows in your organization with automated processes and data pipeline builders. 

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Xplenty is one of these modern reverse ETL platforms, along with offering traditional ETL tools. This solution excels at providing a user-friendly, no-code experience that makes the entire process as simple as a few clicks. You do not need to worry about a massive learning curve, as even non-engineers will find Xplenty intuitive. Discover how Xplenty can help with a seven-day demo.