Data democratization use to be a phrase that spurred nightmares for IT managers everywhere. For several decades, an organization’s IT department were the data gatekeepers with deep concerns around allowing non-technical people direct access to the organization’s data. There were several rational risks for this such as:
Duplicative data activities
Misinterpretation of data
Massive IT expenditure
These are a just a sampling of known risks that organizations acknowledge as reasons they hesitate when investing in data accessibility across the organization and providing self-service data analytic tools for their employees.
Yet, as big data becomes increasingly critical to an organization’s health, it is imperative for organizations to focus their employee’s talents around data – one of the first steps to do that is data democratization (or at least a more liberal data management strategy).
The idea of centralizing an organization’s data and providing freedom to access that data is not an innovative concept by itself. Organizations have been building and managing disparate data sources with master data management, data warehouses, and business intelligence reporting for decades.
However, what is innovative are the tools and processes that have been developed in the past decade to significantly reduce the cost and complexity in managing enterprise data. For each pain point or risk in centralizing and democratizing an organization’s data, there are dozens of powerful tools that address them.
What are some advantages to a more liberal data management strategy? Among other things, liberal access to data sources can enable:
Rapid knowledge sharing. ‘Rapid’ may depend on what is time-relevant for the business, as ‘real-time’ access to data may not necessarily be needed. At the very least, data democratization can significantly reduce delays if the current process results in an IT bottleneck for exploring data, analyzing data, and generating a data-driven culture.
Focus on analyzing rather than organizing data by business analysts. Self-service access to an organization’s data allows business analysts to directly mine the data for what matters rather than worry about how to get approval or navigate a tedious process to collect the most relevant data.
Focus on innovative solutions rather than responding to data pulls requests by IT. Without having to worry about playing the role of “data hall monitors” with business analysts, IT can focus their attention on high-value projects they care about.
Faster decision making and insights by stakeholders. Maybe most important of all, with less delays in data access and more effective use of analysts’ time, decision makers can quickly obtain data-driven reports and recommendations to grow their business.
In the current business environment driven by big data, many organizations are already shifting how they manage their data to obtain a competitive advantage. This shift also applies to the conversion of knowledge workers who have the skillset and expectations to drive value for their organization without being restricted by cumbersome data management processes and unnecessary friction in their daily workflow.
If your organization has not yet implemented a more liberal data management strategy, at least evaluate the idea because it has the potential to further enable organizational growth as well as employee value.