Data Democratisation – What is it and How can it Benefit Your Organisation?

It feels like every time we hit the keys to pen a new blog, we mention how much organisations rely on data on a daily (perhaps even hourly) basis. From figure-heavy Business Intelligence initiatives to key strategic decisions, everyone that you work with requires different feeds of information at different times, to do their job. Could data democratisation help?

But what does data democratisation mean?

Data Democracratisation quote

Moving towards a data democracy

Many current corporate structures leave one person or the IT Team in charge of business data. This centralised approach has its positives, like limiting human interaction with datasets and maintaining information security. However, the appointed gatekeepers can only handle so many data requests per day. When you throw in multiple departments and stakeholders, requests soon mount up and become unmanageable – and that’s without factoring in day to day duties. This unintentional bottleneck has far reaching effects, leaving departments like Analysts, Marketing and even Management in the dark.

Even if data isn’t siloed into one area of the business, a lack of technical skill can inhibit external departments from physically accessing the information they need. If they can access it, often it’s not in a usable format or presented in a way that will be understood.

In a data democracy, everyone has access to the data they need, in the format that they need it in, exactly when they need it.

The benefits of data democratisation DIY

Granted, Do It Yourself doesn’t sound like the best methodology when it comes to handling core datasets. But, with the appropriate process in place, it can thrust an organisation to new heights of efficiency. Here are just a few ways that this free flow of information can help:

  • Free-up IT – By allowing individuals access to the data they need, IT Departments are able to get down to the real value – their actual jobs!
  • Tame legacy data – Data held in inflexible legacy systems is renowned for being difficult to access. Using a Data Integration Tool, connections between this previously “lost” information can be re-established, and it can be incorporated into daily analytic requests.
  • Easier access to data – Creating a “self-service” data system with tailored access removes a step from data processes. Instead of putting in a request and waiting for that request to be processed, projects can just …start.
  • Improved data comprehension – Staff that previously wouldn’t touch your data are able to work with it, building analytical skill.

In combination, the above positives allow better business decisions to be made, both on a departmental level and as a whole.

Data democracy is only achievable now due to the advancement of business technology.

Gone are the days when data was confined to the humble Excel spreadsheet. It’s been almost 40 years since Microsoft created the spreadsheet program, and yet most organisations still rely on it to display their data. Platforms such as Chartist, Power BI and Tableau have revolutionised the way we see and interact with our data – regardless of skill level.

All of these software programs and processes need to be underpinned by a core data integration platform – our favourite of which is FME.

Democracy in action

We’re already seeing organisations working towards a more democratic approach to their data.

Recently, a public body approached with a specific data challenge. Their teams wanted to understand the relationship between its assets, activities and various at-risk animal species. They were struggling to maintain a current view of these relationships as the data resided in different places. We were therefore asked if we could help create an up to date view.

Data for each set of elements sat on different databases, and was frequently updated. As a result, the organisation had to rely on manual lookups in order to create a big picture view.

We created a solution that reads in the multiple-input datasets and automatically correlates the relationships. It then also adds additional information including risk scores. Lastly, the combined data is made available in a variety of formats appropriate for the organisations’ different processes.

This is just one example of the positive impact that making data accessible to different teams can have. You can read more stories like this here.

The future of data

That’s not to say that data democratisation is perfect just yet. Sensitive information being easily available can cause its own set of problems. Proper governance and accountability needs to be put into place for a system like this to benefit an organisation.

Will you be introducing a Data Democracy in your organisation? What challenges do you think that this model will cause? Let us know in our comments or catch us on our social media.