Usage scenarios for importing data into Office 365 and SharePoint On-premises
Importing database records to SharePoint:
It is not uncommon to find databases of various applications, whether home grown or a vendor’s, containing valuable information that you wish you could distribute and share with all stake holders in an organization – employees, customers, vendors, investors etc. You may want to cull out only those subsets of data that you would like to present within SharePoint. For example, you may have a HR database in MS Access or SQL server that contain all the HR records of employees. You would like some sections of the employee data such as Address and Phone numbers to be copied into SharePoint. Employees can then update their contact details in SharePoint. How do you move only a select set of fields from a table to SharePoint? Enter External Data Connector. The software allows you to connect and extract only a subset of information from your HR database and move it into SharePoint as list items along with any additional metadata that you may want employees to view or update. And the best part is, you can have the software do these updates at scheduled intervals and even update them back in your HR database!
Connecting to your Line of Business (LOB) applications:
You may have a number of LOB applications in your company that store valuable information for your management, for example sales summary reports. Very often such reports may be available within the application and accessible through the portals of the application. However, such applications may be within your secure infrastructure and may not be available for external access. You can export such data from your LOB or connect directly to the database of the LOB and extract such report data to SharePoint, making them instantly available for collaboration and decision making.
Cutting costs of licensing for occasional or infrequent user read-only access: You can cut down on the costs of purchasing additional user licenses for your LOB applications for those users who have only an occasional need to access the LOB data, such as your management or consultants who work for your company. For example, you can extract a very small subset of records and publish them into SharePoint for further collaborative access.
Using SharePoint as a Report publishing platform:
You can generate query-based reports from your application databases and store them as Lists or publish them as Document reports in SharePoint libraries. You can store these lists or reports with the necessary metadata and enable users to search and access these reports. For example, providing reports to your Management and Decision makers on a daily or weekly basis will require a lot of collation of data from multiple tables (say, sales reports or customer contract reports, the data for which usually sit in application databases across different departments within the organization).
Bridging your documents with the correct metadata from external systems:
You may have a CRM solution that has all the details of your customers and vendors. However, all documents related to these customers may not be available for access within the same CRM. For example, documents from customers may be received through emails and manually or automatically routed to your SharePoint document library. The documents may need to be tagged with the appropriate customer data (say contract information pertaining to the document that gets stored in your CRM system). Any CIO would love to bridge these two in a cost-efficient manner without incurring additional costs of development or consulting. External Data Connector can connect to your CRM database, extract the relevant customer information and map them with the available columns in your document library and apply this metadata to all customer documents. Suddenly your documents have been updated with all the necessary customer information for further search, access and collaboration.
Making your Legacy business applications come alive with SharePoint:
Most of your Legacy business applications may not have the capability to provide decision makers the right information at the right time. Once you have the External Data Connector software, you can export data from your Legacy applications to CSV files and import them to SharePoint lists with the relevant metadata. Instead of manually processing and extracting only the relevant columns of information, you can use the software to directly read from the CSV and map it to available lists are create new lists thus making your legacy application data come alive. And, you can automate this whole process to periodically update data from your Legacy applications using CSV files.
Maintain consistency of any Inventory data across your systems:
If you have a need for all stake holders in your company to have a single, unified, consistent view of any catalogued enterprise data, you can make SharePoint a single portal to look up all such data by using External Data Connector to synchronize all catalogued data from multiple systems. You can also have manual updates, say, of corrected entries, synchronized back to your respective systems. For example, a typical inventory of products and all their spares that are gathered from different database sources can be setup within SharePoint and synchronized for the latest updates using External Data Connector.
Maintain consistency of data for any Service offered:
If you have multiple systems, say Help Desk, CRM and ERP, you can import related datasets into SharePoint and have a unified view of all pending service requests, their current status and customer contact information by bringing them all into SharePoint Lists. The lists can be created automatically on the fly. All you need to do is to identify the right columns of data from different database sources using unique mapping columns to update the lists within SharePoint.
Managing Contacts and Tasks:
Synchronizing and maintaining Contacts and Tasks from different systems is a pain point for most organizations. You can use SharePoint as the single repository of all such information by using External Data Connector to synchronize contacts, tasks etc. from different applications. Think of External Data Connector as your bridge for using SharePoint as the information hub.
Importing content from CSV and XLS files:
You can import data from manually structured CSV and XLS files from any external source, say, a manually prepared Inventory data sheet that needs to be updated into a SharePoint list for further processing by other applications.
Extracting mails from your Exchange Server and moving them to SharePoint:
This feature will assist you in querying and extracting all relevant mails from your Exchange Server or your Office 365 Exchange online and importing them to SharePoint as either list items or email documents(.eml files) that can be stored in document libraries. For example, you bridge all your project documents and mails using SharePoint by bringing in mails specific to certain projects, users etc. from your Exchange.
Extracting data from your Dynamics CRM application (Coming soon):
You can extract various entity data from your Dynamics CRM, say all customer contact information along with their latest support queries, and bring them to SharePoint for your management to monitor and improve the quality of customer support and responsiveness. As stated earlier, you may be able to reducing the licensing costs for users who just need to infrequently access such data from your CRM application.