The power data has to drive better business outcomes is becoming more and more evident — so, it makes sense why data analytics is becoming more central to enterprises’ overall strategies and goals. But 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.
Rather, businesses are realizing the many benefits of opening up data access to a range of 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 are able to ask their own questions and create their own dashboards based on their needs in the moment.
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 proving to be so important and how enterprises are actually 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 CFO, democratization typically involves joint efforts across a number of different areas, including:
- Storage: Streamlining access to information means dismantling storage silos separating different types of data, instead working to structure 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 also guaranteeing data is high quality and trustworthy.
- Culture: Company culture as it pertains to data usage can help or hinder strategy. Consider how leaders talk about and use data themselves, as well as 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 every day rather than just paying it lip service.
- Training: Making sure employees know how to use tools and get the most out of their data analyses, including interpreting results correctly, is an important priority.
Of course, all of these other areas are underscored by the analytics platform an enterprise uses, as this tool determines how companies the cleaning, storage, governance and usage of data by business users.
The Importance of Democratizing Data
It’s sort of like that 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.”
Except, 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 report will then need to be generated. Considering how many questions arise throughout the average organization on a daily basis, the pitfalls of the former approach become quite apparent.
Perhaps the main advantage of successfully democratizing data is 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 removing the need for data scientists to act as intermediaries speed up the decision-making process, it also eliminates the additional room for error and missed opportunities present when actual business experts aren’t privy to data.
At the end of the day, democratization can turn everyone into a layperson data scientist. Getting it right means considering how people are accessing tools, as well as culture, governance, storage and training to support those tools.