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Don’t let data democratization translate into enterprise anarchy

Use a next-generation data integration platform to support data standards and governance while enabling true self-service analytics.

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“Business units undermine the integrity of existing data stores at an organizational level, contaminating it with the runoff from their pilot projects.”

Business users are demanding access to data that can help them make better decisions more quickly, including that which has previously been off limits or trapped in departmental silos. If IT can't—or won't—deliver it fast enough, tech-savvy users are finding ways to liberate that data on their own. But security risks associated with unfettered access to sensitive data are real. So, too, are the risks to your data governance efforts.

Although often praised, "democratization of data" promotes at its core unregulated access to data. This happens regardless of how data is generated, who owns it, or what its intended purpose is. Analytic tool vendors are partly to blame because they make software readily available without highlighting integration efforts that would make it truly valuable to both the business and IT.

The result? Siloed projects that tap into data sets of questionable quality and put compatibility, compliance, and security at risk. And business units that undermine the integrity of existing data stores at an organizational level, contaminating it with the runoff from pilot projects.

Promote agility

Data democratization is not all bad. Business users can tap into siloed intelligence and relieve a resource-constrained IT department. At the same time, they are contributing to enterprise-wide data integration efforts. This becomes an imperative if either your organization as a whole or individual business units are hoping to realize the promise of big data. In this case, you need to make data available to the people who need it, when and where they need it. You must provide it in formats they can use, with the freedom to use it in any way they need.

Agile business practices can benefit your entire organization, unless you sacrifice quality for speed. Ensure quality with a constitution in the form of a governance layer. A next-generation data integration platform lets you set standards that apply to all of the data, structured and unstructured, that your organization gathers. Everyone can access the same quality data and metadata, but with tools appropriate for their skill levels and roles.

Protect scalability

For this idealistic vision to become a scalable reality, your data governance mandate must include two rigorous, non-negotiable components:

1. Policy definition and enforcement: To ensure quality data and appropriate usage, you need to set and strictly enforce policies around:

  • Data accountability and ownership
  • Organizational roles and responsibilities
  • Data capture standards
  • Information security and data privacy guidelines
  • Data access and usage

2. Business process alignment: Governance must influence and improve the upstream processes that capture, update, transform, and derive data. It must also oversee the downstream processes that consume the data.

To some, data governance may seem to perpetuate a data dictatorship instead of building on the promise of business agility. But it is a necessity if you want to successfully deliver true self-serve business analytics for the operational consumption of data. A next-generation data integration platform can deliver consistent, homogenous access of clean data enterprise-wide, from C-level executives to data scientists, financial analysts, and social marketers.

Read more about the importance of agile bureaucracy in Informatica Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing, MDM, Rob Karel's blog post,"Embrace the Oxymoron: Data Governance Requires Agile Bureaucracy."

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