Data Democratization Requires Strong Data Governance

Self-Service

Data democratization has spread across the enterprise like a wildfire in recent years, bringing with it chants from end-users everywhere for an expansion in access to self-service capabilities. Organizations are now growing to understand that providing line-of-business users with access to the data they so desire can bring great benefits. Cross-enterprise data access isn’t the only aspect to this, however. To produce insights that will impact the bottom line, end-users need self-service analytics tools that they can utilize on an ad hoc basis so they may answer important questions on the fly.

The benefits of democratizing data across the enterprise are many, of course, but doing so can also have some not-so positive side effects. For instance, if every user has administrative access to vital business data, businesses run the risk of damaging their important data stores. This can come in the form of disorganization, poor data quality, and in the worst case, even data loss. A growing threat of data security also remains, as is evident by the number of large retailers and governmental organizations who have been compromised this year. These risks are being mitigated in large part thanks to Data Governance, the process by which data assets are managed enterprise-wide.

In the past, the IT department would play the role of data steward, overseeing a company’s entire data pipeline, from collection to migration to Business Intelligence. But with the widespread adoption of self-service data democratization now on the horizon, the traditional role of IT is in flux. Data Governance protocols have now emerged as the new guardian of important data, with companies small and large now taking action to deploy stringent Data Management. With user autonomy becoming the new normal, companies want to ensure that their most important resource, Big Data, remains in the right hands and follows industry regulation.

Organizations that reside in healthcare, finance, or public sector verticals are being regulated more than ever as a result of widespread data access. Thus, Data Governance planning and implementation need to be taken with much more than a grain of salt. Large enterprises have much more to lose than they did when IT ran the show, even if ad hoc capabilities are helping them answer pressing business questions with more accuracy than ever. In the same breath, compliance and auditing controls should be taken with great responsibility, and rule-based security and data access controls should also be deployed in certain circumstances.

Putting data and analytics tools in the hands of trusted line-of-business users has proven that the era of IT-led Data Management is long gone, but without strong Data Governance in place, the threat of data chaos is very real. In a world where privacy and anonymity are treasured commodities, businesses cannot afford to lose the trust of their customers over lax or non-existent data governing.

Timothy King
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