Democratizing Data to Promote Business Growth

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Read more about author Pierre Brunelle.

Data democratization, the process of making information accessible to all employees and stakeholders regardless of their technical background, is critical to make data-driven decisions across an organization. However, democratizing data can be complex. Most organizations have a wide gap between business employees, leaders, and data creators due to silos, a lack of data literacy, and a disjointed data-sharing approach.

Empowering every department and employee within your organization with access to this knowledge can improve sales, map the customer journey, shape marketing campaigns, improve department functionality and operations, and inform hiring and onboarding efforts. 

The following strategies are critical to bridging the gap between data creators and stakeholders and democratizing data for organizations to promote and fuel business growth.

Illuminate and Address the Data Silos 

data silo is a collection of information controlled by one department or business unit and isolated from the rest of an organization. These silos occur because as businesses grow, teams expand, and new software tools emerge, causing data-sharing strategies between different teams and departments to become fragmented. 

Silos hinder an organization’s ability to manage business processes and make informed decisions. The impacts of silos can manifest as incomplete data sets, inconsistent information reported by different departments, duplicate platforms and processes, and even developing a siloed mentality within departments. 

The best way to identify silos is to take a comprehensive survey of the current data landscape of your organization. You can locate silos by mapping how every department in your organization creates, analyzes, processes, and stores data. 

Another way to identify silos is to be on the lookout for key indicators in day-to-day processes. For example, if different departments provide inconsistent data or employees indicate that out-of-date data sets exist, there are likely silos at play.

To address these silos, you should review the survey results and develop methods to share knowledge and expertise. Your organization should move towards a centralized system to manage information across departments. 

Assess and Encourage Data Literacy in the Organization

Data literacy is a person’s ability to read, understand, create, and communicate data as information. Understanding the data literacy of your organization is key to knowledge sharing, as it gives you a roadmap for how information must be shared to account for specific members. Without a pulse on data literacy, it can be impossible to determine what solution to pursue, whether it be a business intelligence (BI) tool or a collaborative data notebook. 

You can assess this literacy through surveys, skills tests, or discussions between data creators and other organization members. Some questions to remember when evaluating this literacy are how many employees can: access and query data, implement dashboards and reports, consume metrics, and explain the output of their systems and processes with data. 

Once you have a better understanding of your organization’s collective literacy, you can provide the right solution and empower employees to have the confidence to use data and make decisions.  

Implement a Comprehensive Data Solution

Unfortunately, many businesses operate with an approach that does not meet the needs of their organization. According to Forrester Research, only 22% of companies see a significant return on data science expenditures. In addition, data experts waste 44% of their time searching for, preparing, and analyzing data. Businesses should prioritize knowledge sharing and collaboration to gain more profound knowledge for actionable insights and use data to inform decisions quickly. 

When choosing a data activation platform, it should balance both the needs of data creators and other organization members. Other factors like the size of the organization, industry, and specific needs of the business can also impact what solution would make the most sense. For example, external stakeholders often want visualized information. In that case, it makes sense to implement a tool or platform to convert data into the charts and assets you need.

When implementing a data activation platform, you should consider a “self-service” model. When an organization’s members and stakeholders can pull the information they need from a centralized repository, they can avoid bottlenecks or require authorization to access what they need. In addition, the self-service model can reduce friction between departments and improve data utilization in real time.

Democratizing data within an organization can lead to significant growth and success. Commit to identifying silos, surveying literacy, and implementing a comprehensive solution to meet and exceed your organization’s goals in the new year.