What is Data Democratization?
Data democratization is the process of making data accessible to all members of an organization, regardless of their role or department. This is especially important for teams of all sizes; small businesses all the way up to enterprise teams, as it allows for more efficient decision-making and can lead to increased productivity and revenue.
Organizations that do it right see rewards across all areas of the business, from improved customer experiences to greater revenue and a stronger bottom line.
Before the widespread adoption of data democratization, business users often encountered delays and difficulties in finding, accessing, and obtaining approval to use data. Historically, IT teams controlled most or all of the data, and business users had to go through IT to request access to specific data sets, which would often be provided in unorganized spreadsheet form.
This led to a hindrance for business analysts and prevented the company from becoming data-driven. Data was concentrated in one area and other departments had to compete for access.
Despite progress, many organizations still have an ad-hoc approach where IT controls the data, which creates obstacles for business analysts in accessing and utilizing the data to make data-driven decisions. Some data leaders may be hesitant to democratize data due to security concerns, such as the potential misuse and mishandling of sensitive personal data. However, in reality, organizations that use data effectively and responsibly train their employees to use data appropriately and make better, informed business decisions.
Data democratization results in increased efficiency, profitability, and success for a business. It also serves different functions for various departments or positions within the organization. For example:
- Sales teams often use data to evaluate the potential and current status of opportunities in their pipeline.
- Marketing teams use data to optimize campaigns by testing different elements to reach their target audience more efficiently.
- Customer service and support teams use data to provide better service by quickly and accurately accessing customer information such as past activity or purchases.
- Human resources teams use data to effectively communicate with potential candidates and analyze resumes.
- Research and development teams use data to determine consumer preferences and adjust products accordingly.
- Executive leadership uses data to gain a comprehensive understanding of the business and identify which initiatives are most profitable.
Data creeps into most facets of a business at one point or another and starting the process of safe and secure democratization can lead to far more efficiency and savings in the long-term.
Companies that don't provide their employees with sufficient access to data or training on how to use it can experience various inefficiencies. These include:
- Data silos, where data is stored in different systems making it difficult for employees to find what they need.
- Controlled access to data, which can create delays and slow down decision-making.
- Insufficient tooling, where only IT has access to data and analytics tools, preventing business analysts from accessing the data they need. These issues can be addressed through data democratization, which gives all employees within the business access to the data they need to make data-driven decisions without relying on IT as a middleman.
To approach data democratization, teams should first identify the specific data sets that will be most useful for their organization. This could include sales data, customer information, or internal metrics. Once these data sets have been identified, the team should work to develop a plan for how to make them accessible to all members of the organization. This could involve creating a centralized data repository, implementing data visualization tools, or training employees on how to use the data.
In general teams should look to:
- Conduct an inventory of their data and compliance situation, including where data is stored and what tools and technologies are currently being used. Consider hiring an IT consultant for a comprehensive analysis, if necessary.
- Evaluate the data literacy of their employees, and assess potential data solutions by researching technology, seeking input from colleagues, and testing demos.
- Invest in training and ongoing education to ensure a strong return on investment and successful implementation of data democratization tools.
It is important to note that data democratization is not just about making data accessible, but also about making sure it is accurate, up-to-date, and relevant. A team approach to data governance is important to ensure that the data is reliable, and that the data can be trusted by all members of the organization.
Additionally, it is important for teams to regularly review and update their data democratization strategy. As the organization grows and evolves, the data needs may change, and the team should be prepared to adapt to these changes in order to continue to achieve their goals.
In summary, data democratization is important for small business to enterprise teams because it allows for more efficient decision-making, increased productivity, and revenue. A team approach to data governance is important to ensure the data is reliable, and regularly review and update the strategy as the organization evolves.
This blog serves as an introduction to a series on different principles to apply your data ecosystem to bring you a step closer to democratizing data across your business! The core topics that will be covered in the data democratization series include:
With additional topics on the way:
- Implementation of metrics layers above your data storage
- Use of data lineage and cataloguing tools