The datascape in which businesses exist today is changing drastically. The megatrends of cloud and social data to mobile and the Internet of Things are all just individual facets of a much bigger and more profound trend. The new age of data is in fact at one of the biggest inflection points in business history.
Organizations need a new mindset and approach to turn data into competitive advantage. It will be about recognizing and managing data as a strategic business asset. It will be about moving from a purely app-centric view to a data-centric and app-aware perspective. It will be about embracing new data management principles in order to harness the amazing power of data. We call this set of challenges and strategies, the New Data Dynamics.
Data has changed for good
Data has always been important to business but there is far more data to capture and consider today. Think yottabytes, not megabytes. It comes from all directions - from sensors, transactional systems, and social media channels. It is multi-structured, looks like text or images or thumbs-ups or tweets and lives in apps, cloud stores, distant servers and email attachments. It can’t just be owned by a single application. It needs to flow freely to wherever the insight is required. Current data stacks, strategies and infrastructures can put organizations at a serious disadvantage if data changes are not well-managed.
What app-centric means
Since the dawn of IT, applications have been the way that people automate their key business processes. As packaged applications matured, they created their own centers of gravity – as if the application itself was the end instead of the means to better business performance and understanding. In fact, most business professionals don’t think ‘data’. They think CRM, ERP, ecommerce, supply chain management, and business intelligence.
However, taking the application-centric view into the new age of data can cripple a business. An app-centric perspective is limiting because an application is a silo. Each app controls the data it needs to perform its own function, for its own needs. This means that its data structure will not be designed for easy connectivity with other applications, and can never be optimized to deliver a comprehensive view which the business deserves.
What data-centric means
For data to become the strategic business asset that it must be, it has to be liberated from the application silos. Not divorced from them but abstracted from them. When this happens, data can be structured and optimized for many different uses, not just for one application and business process. That means it is accessible, usable and independent of the platform, application, or device that created it – and that integrations, provisioning, security, data quality, and management are handled intelligently and systematically, across all applications and use cases.
A data-centric view means data is ready to fuel anything your business needs. Organizations can still look at and optimize any data set in the context of an application and ensure that it is prepared for a much wider role in the business. That’s the power of a data-centric perspective.
The New Data Dynamics Approach
The New Data Dynamics describes the essentials of a new approach to data management. It provides the discipline to make it easier for a business to do five important things:
-Access and capture important data sources and make data ready to provide insights
-Ensure data quality to create a single, high-fidelity version of truth for every critical data dimension such as customers, products, suppliers and assets
-Keep sensitive data safe and regulation-compliant by using techniques such as data security, archiving, and role-based data masking and redaction
-Enhance data value by capturing the context of the data and its connections, and augmenting it with new data and metadata
-Get the right data to the right people, processes or applications at the right time, in the right format, in the easiest way possible
To get to the desired state, the ten principles of the New Data Dynamics are outlined below:
1. Embrace volume: With new data technologies, organizations can embrace the entire volume of data rather than using sampling techniques to make data more manageable.
2. Prepare once, consume anywhere: The data-centric view allows organizations to do data preparation once, centrally, so that it can be deployed where it’s most needed
3. Automate data management: It is important to have the right tools and technologies to automate as many processes as possible, from ingestion to tagging to structuring and provisioning
4. Standardize and document: Create golden masters of the most critical data dimensions (such has customers) and populate all key systems with it, then capture and manage critical business definitions and concepts in a published glossary so that everyone is working from the same sheet.
5. Capture relationships: No data point is an island. Capture the relationships between data sets so you can see where the connections are and the underlying dynamics of the business
6. Measure quality: Assign responsibility, define the metrics, and track and report on them regularly
7. Secure smartly: Know where the sensitive data is and make sure it gets the same level of protection and safeguards no matter where it goes
8. Enable self-service: Increasingly think about building about self-service models and tools that let non-technical users do it themselves (and iterate freely).
9. Test before rolling out: Data flows and integrations are far too important to put into production without thorough testing and test data management, in an environment as close to identical as the production environment.
10. Market your wins: Capture your wins and let key stakeholders know.
The Benefits of the New Data Dynamics
Data matters now more than ever. The New Data Dynamics rises to the challenges of the new age of data, so everyone in the organization can ask better questions, make better decisions, drive down costs and improve efficiencies, delight customers and reduce the cost of compliance.
Trying to master the New Data Dynamics using yesterday’s data strategies, processes, and technologies is the fast track to irrelevance. However, organizations can gain a serious advantage in the most important areas of their business if they are able to take a data centric view or in other words put data at the heart of their business.
The author is country manager - sales, Informatica India