Finding Shambhala, a paradise once sought by explorers, probably seems easier than mapping data buried under multiple application stacks, systems, and platforms for many modern enterprises. Data created and used over the course decades transforms and changes as the organization does. Ian Rowlands, VP of Product Marketing for ASG Technologies knows the unease of not knowing data. Ian stated in a recent DATAVERSITY® interview that, “Essentially anybody using data needs to manage their data.” Data Intelligence is the solution that allows an enterprise the ability to know their data, no matter the type, age, or location in their various architectures.
ASG Technologies takes satisfaction in providing a “peace of mind to organizations that are using Information Technology to manage complex businesses” through enabling end users to have access to data when they need it. Many companies can use this relief.
In a study by FIMA and ASG Technologies, Diagnosing Key Data Management Challenges, 73 Data Management executives, from several financial institutions, responded to questions about how their companies manage data. Approximately half mine their Big Data stores for a combination of operational processes, routine reporting, and Advanced Analytics, while 45 percent are only beginning to create Data Lineage programs for their critical data elements. This indicates that many companies can’t accurately point to their data. As Rowlands stated, regulatory penalties around data can be very severe, payment of up to 70 million Euros or 4 percent of an organization’s annual revenue for violating Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Here enters ASG technologies. Organizations such as Lockheed Martin, IBM, Coca Cola, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Deutsche Telekom have turned to ASG to get a handle on their data. A recent case study of how ASG Technologies guided American Fidelity Assurance (AFA) towards a creating a data-centric organization reveals Big Data’s challenge – data complexity. Mark Nance, AFA’s Chief Data Officer, found the complexity of his firm’s data ecosystem, astounding. He stated, “Digging into that complexity and understanding it is the first step in transforming our entire approach to Data Management.” Through ASG Technologies’ Data Intelligence Solution, Nance, and other Fortune 500 directors have discovered how to use their data in the most agile fashion, satisfy regulation and compliance needs, and get quick and accurate business decisions.
Enterprise Data Intelligence
Data Intelligence forms the heart of ASG Technologies offering, saving time and effort by establishing visibility and traceability, resulting in fewer resources for routine tasks and making resolving errors easier. Rowlands remarked:
“Data Intelligence is the ability to discover and understand Data and govern that Data so that the business gets the maximum value in its investment of data with the minimum risk”.
According to Rowlands, this translates to knowing what data you have, how it moves through your enterprise, and how it may change from one place to another.
The ASG out of the box Enterprise Data Intelligence Solution provides, in part, Zero-Gap™ Data Lineage that addresses a broad scope of data environments. Rowlands related that the Data Intelligence Solution:
“Covers a little over 220 distinct metadata sources. ASG provides the ability to link all the way from the legacy mainframe environment out into the Big Data world… and to drill down.”
AFA’s CDO Nance noted that through the ASG Data Intelligence Solution allowed AFA to become more outcome specific and less tied to specific platform. Nance said, “Now we can see what is and isn’t in use, what can be decreased or archived. We have a yardstick. That in itself is a huge value.”
As Rowlands commented, “Something like 90 of the top 100 banks and 70 percent of the Fortune 500 still use mainframes for fundamental business processes.” Many other firms would benefit from such a unique offering from ASG Technologies.
This yardstick, Data Lineage, becomes essential when responding rapidly to new business opportunities and regulations. These types of demands have grown greater. As Rowlands eloquently stated the long running problem in data is, “Get me more value and get it faster, but don’t make any mistakes and get me into trouble.” By providing accurate representations across multiple lines of business, ASG Technologies helps both technical and business professionals to proactively solve their job requirements. This starts with a Business Glossary, another piece of the ASG Enterprise Data Intelligence Solution.
The Business Glossary: A Bridge Between Technical and Business Understanding
Organizations can no longer afford to treat Data Management as primarily a technological issue. Rowlands mused,
“One of the historical problems has been that technical people thought they had a pretty good understanding of data and that business people really did not know what that stuff was.”
He suggested looking at the Business Metadata and tapping these folks first. Collect information about the business terminology and define the Business Glossary, “After that, start collecting information about [the] technical assets and [relate] that back to the glossary.” The business must come first.
The Business Glossary then becomes a central validation point where, as Rowlands stated, “The bridge between a technician’s understanding and the business understanding of data is made.” He said, “Creating that bridge is an important part of the activity” He continued that this builds up a truly accurate representation of business and multiple business lines. The ASG metaGlossary, a module of ASG’s Enterprise Data Intelligence Solution, provides the metadata stored in the Business Glossary, the fundamental data framework. As a result, the ASG metaGlossary provides companies like AFA the ability to remove the guesswork, “When trying to build transparency at all levels of [the] data ecosystem.”
The Future: Technological Change
“Data drives essentially every significant business process,” said Rowlands. “Even down to the fast food organization.” Since organizations have been critically dependent on data, they have taken advantages of innovative technologies to process that data more efficiency. Rowlands has seen data environments transformed by mainframe, to distributed computing, and non-relational databases.
Rowlands and ASG Technologies now see data design changing as well, where much more data is in the Cloud. He interjected that the, “Process is vastly distributed and even mobile. The Data Architectures are variable. It’s not just Hadoop.” According to Rowlands this architectural change is exciting in that it enables, “Businesses and individuals to get much more value out of the data.”
At the same time, changes in applications can be intimidating. Rowlands said, “Technology is changing faster than perhaps the ability to manage it.” He takes pride that ASG Enterprise Data Intelligence Solutions enable people to get a handle on managing Data processes while, “Keeping pace with the changes in technologies.”
AFA’s Mark Nance sees new opportunities like Machine Learning, algorithmic processing, distributed delivery, and others as transforming the data space just as Big Data has done. To take advantage of these technologies successfully, companies need a solid understanding of their data; especially as companies deal with more and more data. Rowlands noted:
“We are in a tremendously dynamic environment. It is vanishing unlikely that all of the data technologies available today with be available the same way even in two years’ time.”
ASG Technologies helps organizations deal with these types of difficulties through effective Data Governance.
Emergence of a Two-Level Data Governance Structure
Rowlands sees Data Governance as a necessary piece of Data Intelligence, delivering business value for data. For example, ASG Technologies helped AFA plan a Data Governance structure around gaining visibility through Data Lineage, eliminating redundancy, delivering and demonstrating the value of this data, facilitating collaboration across business lines, and using the data to drive business success.
As organizations continue to move out further into the Big Data world, ASG Technologies see the need to support for exploratory and business management or compliance reporting use cases. Rowlands envisions the emergence of at least a two-level structured Data Governance.
Compliance is now a big part of day-to-day business; it isn’t something that one has the luxury of tending to as new regulations come along. However, data used in the exploratory stages, as stated by Rowlands, needs to be governed, “Somewhat more agile and more focused on things like provenance and less on absolutely detailed change.” But, this type of Governance cannot be, “Broadly applied to conditional Data because it is being applied to the operational and reporting use cases.” noted Rowlands.
Those two Data Governance levels need to be connected. He said that ASG Technologies will be deploying later this year some new Big Data solutions with linkage back to the exploratory Data Intelligence. With this new offering, ASG Technologies will assist companies in managing their whole data ecosystem by providing a Data Governance product enabling the two-levels of Data Governance to be connected.
Through Data Governance, ASG metaGlossary, Enterprise Data Intelligence, and helping firms adapt to innovative technologies, ASG Technologies’ Enterprise Data Intelligence Solution will continue helping companies to know and understand their data with confidence.
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