Thursday, November 30, 2023

Democratizing Data in Your Organization

The power data has to drive better business outcomes is becoming increasingly evident. So, it makes sense why data analytics is becoming more central to enterprises’ overall strategies and goals. However, how organizations are disseminating and harnessing data is also changing, as it is no longer mostly the domain of executives in the boardroom via specialized IT teams.

Democratizing Data

Rather, businesses realize the many benefits of opening up data access to various decision-makers at every level. Rather than relying on reports that trickle down from the top or require delivery by the data team, employees today, using the latest wave of data analytics tools, can ask their questions and create their dashboards based on their current needs.

Empowering employees with direct access to the data insights most relevant to their roles is known as democratizing data — opening up access to everyone rather than relying on a gatekept model in which a much smaller group of employees have access.

Here’s more on why democratizing data is so important and how enterprises are taking steps to achieve this widespread access.

How Enterprises Are Democratizing Data

Deploying self-service analytics tools is a key measure toward data democratization, to be sure, but it’s not the only step.

According to the CFO, democratization typically involves joint efforts across several different areas, including:

  • Storage: Streamlining access to information means dismantling storage silos, separating different data types instead of structuring data into one “borderless” system.
  • Governance: Along with updating how information is stored and accessed, companies must implement security and control measures to boost security and compliance while guaranteeing data quality and trustworthiness.
  • Culture: Company culture regarding data usage can help or hinder strategy. Consider how leaders talk about and use data themselves and the response employees get when they have questions or concerns about data. It’s also important to figure out how to genuinely support and encourage data-driven decision-making daily rather than just paying lip service.
  • Training: It is an important priority to ensure employees know how to use tools and get the most out of their data analyses, including interpreting results correctly.

Of course, these other areas are underscored by an enterprise’s analytics platform. This tool determines how businesses clean, store, govern and use data by business users.

The Importance of Democratizing Data

It’s like saying, “Give a person a fish, and they’ll eat for a day. Teach a person to fish, and they’ll eat for a lifetime.”

Instead of fish, we’re talking about access to data insights. Giving an employee a single report may satisfy an immediate need, but it does little to shed light on future questions and challenges that will arise. For those, another piece will then need to be generated. Considering how many questions arise throughout the average organization daily, the pitfalls of the former approach become quite apparent.

The main advantage of successfully democratizing data is that it connects business users with insights — that is, the people who are not necessarily experts in data but are experts on their job roles because they work on the departmental front lines. So, not only can it remove the need for data scientists to act as intermediaries to speed up the decision-making process, but it also eliminates the additional room for error and missed opportunities when actual business experts aren’t privy to data.

Democratization can turn everyone into a layperson data scientist. Getting it right means considering how people access tools and culture, governance, storage, and training to support those tools.

William J. McGoldrick
William J. McGoldrick
Passionate beer maven. Social media advocate. Hipster-friendly music scholar. Thinker. Garnered an industry award while merchandising cannibalism in Gainesville, FL. Have some experience importing human hair in Minneapolis, MN. Won several awards for consulting about race cars in the government sector. Crossed the country developing strategies for clip-on ties in Washington, DC. Spent a weekend implementing Virgin Mary figurines in West Palm Beach, FL. Had moderate success promoting Elvis Presley in Ocean City, NJ.

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