Data Democracy: Ready to Transform Business

By Robert Duffner

The barriers that have stood between business data — and the true value it holds — are finally coming down. Access to data is finally being democratized within organizations. The access costs and operational and IT silos are coming down, and for the first time any collaborative team, virtually anyone in an organization can get the insight they need to make data-enhanced decisions.

How is this so? It no longer takes six to nine months to build a viable, even merely workable, data warehouse. No longer are teams of data scientists needed to work their esoteric analytical voodoo simply to be able to query the data on the most narrow of questions and scope. The technological foundations are here now, finally, that make it possible for anyone in the enterprise to get the actionable information they need — at any time — and anywhere they happen to be.

This is the democratization of enterprise data. And it’s going to forever change data driven business decision-making and collaboration. It’s certainly taken long enough to get here.

Legacy data analytics tools have fallen short when it comes to the promises made regarding so-called “big data solutions.” These tools have proven themselves to be difficult to use. Too reliant upon on-premise technologies, and they are not available where their answers are needed most: in the field, at customer locations, within the warehouse, before the big presentation, or wherever employees, executives, and teams happen to be when they need answers.

In the typical large enterprise today, delivery of information is performed by a two-step service bureau model. Those needing new business insight tools would a request to their analysts, who then turn to their IT team and ask IT to provision to hardware and data platform and perform all of the associated integration work and schema development. Just building a basic data warehouse can take eight months to a year. In short, they don’t enable people to obtain the insights they need when, how, and where they need them. That’s not good enough.

Fortunately, that’s all changing. And it’s changing rapidly.

For the first time, data analytics tools are fully cloud native. They are designed cloud from the ground up. This is why they are agile. They don’t take months or even years to set up. And they are accessible to everyone in the business, not just a few data analysts.

Furthermore, this democratization is powered by mobile. Workers need access to data and answers to pressing business questions whenever and wherever they are working. The democratization of data means they have access to comprehensive and clear answers to inquiries on the devices they have with them.

That brings up the third foundation of data democratization. The insight provided by data analytics tools is accessible to everyone. With legacy data analytics tools everyday business users simply do not have access to the information they need to most intelligently do their jobs. And, when answers do eventually come, they are so cryptic they are incomprehensible to anyone without a PhD in data science.

Of course, these cloud native, highly mobile, and insight-accessible data analytics technologies are powerful. By leveraging the power of cloud platforms, billions of rows of data can be digested at rates that were never before possible. It’s data that can be surveyed from anywhere, delivered on most any mobile device, and the answers comprehended by anyone. All of this is what makes the democratization of data so powerful.

With this democratization of data, implementing business intelligence solutions no longer takes months or even years. It doesn’t require data scientists to architect complex data warehouses, or design the schemas to make it run as well as the reporting infrastructure that only delivers results data analysts can understand.

Finally, data democratization is delivering analytics in a way that works for today’s workforce. And it finally puts crucial business information in the hands of those who need it. And with this democratization enterprises unleash the data that makes them infinitely more competitive. This intelligent collection, analysis, and mobile distribution of data analytics enables enterprises to not only stay a step or two ahead of the competition, but to leap ahead.

This is how data democracy is transforming business, and it’s about time.

Robert Duffner is a mobile strategist and evangelist for the Salesforce1 Platform at Salesforce.

Originally published on Wired Innovative Insights and at

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