Remember when you needed data about your business and had to approach the IT gatekeepers with cap in hand? Or when you’d spend a lot of time searching for and trying to access data and then have to wait for approval to use it?
Perhaps this is your current reality.
Are you losing valuable time due to IT bottlenecks and dealing with data silos that make accessing the data you need impossible? The delays make real-time data insights impossible and lead to decision-making based on stale or partial data with less desirable outcomes. It can cause inefficiencies that translate into a slow crawl to deliver insights.
Data democratization removes these dependencies, allowing data to flow from the hands of a handful of experts to many employees in the business, making self-service analytics possible.
What is data democratization?
If democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people, then data democracy is data for the people, to the people.
Data democratization happens when organizations make data accessible to stakeholders and employees. They ensure they educate them on how to use it, so they are comfortable and confident working with data regardless of their technological background.
This scenario can only exist in a data-driven culture. In that environment, employees have the right tools to smoothly and efficiently work with, share, and interpret data. Data democratization is integral to the culture of data reliance in decision-making, company-wide data literacy, implementing the technology tools to facilitate the shift, and change management to strengthen digital transformation efforts.
It’s an ongoing process that requires continuous data literacy support as technology and tools develop. Keep up-to-date so employees can comfortably and effortlessly ask and get answers to their data-related questions. Transparency on who has access to what data, where it resides, and how to access it becomes necessary.
Benefits of data democratization
Alignment and collaboration
Data sharing will allow for better alignment throughout your organization, as overall accessibility enhances cohesiveness and collaboration. A more data-literate and data-savvy workforce means everyone agrees, and there is better communication, understanding, and speed problem-solving. This environment is fertile for and unlocks innovation.
Shared access enables the execution of comparable judgments by different departments since they’re based on the same data.
True data democratization requires self-service—data must be accessible and presented so it’s easily consumable.
With the time saved, the focus can shift to getting the job done and less effort spent on figuring it out and running down data, leading to efficiencies across the business.
Data teams will spend less time translating data and making it usable for people in the organization so that time can be diverted toward more strategic endeavors.
The data enable faster and more accurate decision-making. Faster decisions save money and facilitate more immediate mobilization in a time crunch. More solid, grounded strategic planning is also possible because the margin of error is slim to none when you get things right the first time.
Faster decision-making makes for more agile teams and operations, as does real-time data access. The company that can act quickly has an advantage over the data-stingy, slower competition. For example, improved response time to trends and changes in consumer needs allows you to occupy the first-to-market spot. You are in a great position to make judgments that are proactive as opposed to reactive.
Data and data literacy empowers staff, enhances digital skills, and ultimately boosts engagement. Consistent access to reliable and accurate data gives individuals and teams a confidence boost that drives problem-solving.
With the explosion of big data in recent years, companies have been more forthcoming in making data available to their customers. For example, utility companies provide service and usage data to customers and access to their consumption history, including downloadable records, updates, stats, etc. When extended to customers, data democratization creates a world of convenience, empowering them to take control of their accounts, use apps, and make decisions.
Customer-facing employees (customer service and sales) can provide better, more consistent customer experience because they have accurate, reliable information at their fingertips and can personalize their interactions. Alignment between departments becomes effortless when they agree on their customer-centric approach.
These benefits all amount to a better return on data investment.
Do you need help balancing broad access to data with maintaining the confidentiality of sensitive information? Indeed, you want everyone to use data to make better decisions, but there are limits to the level of transparency you may allow. You’ll need to safeguard confidential information; your democratization initiative must make specific, explicit provisions.
There is the possibility of unintentional misuse of data. This may come about if an employee lacks knowledge and understanding and arrives at an inaccurate conclusion leading to a poor decision. Effective data quality management coupled with training and data literacy is the solution and even more of a prerequisite to any data democratization initiative.
Last, you must also be mindful of compliance with regulatory mandates. Once you have a practical data governance framework, you will toe the line.
Ensuring that you understand and address the risks involved will pave the way for realizing the benefits of data democracy. Good data governance will ease these fears, mitigate risks, and eliminate vulnerabilities.
You may also be interested in our eBook on Agile HCM Governance.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.