To Share or Not to Share: 3 Keys to Faster and Safer Data Delivery

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Read more about author James Beecham.

Data represents the lifeblood of any organization, whether gathered and analyzed for boosting sales, developing new marketing strategies, improving customer satisfaction, or long-range strategic planning. Key decision-makers would be lost without it.

Despite the crucial role that data plays across the entire enterprise, the issue of who gets access to information while also keeping it secure often creates an internal struggle that leads to wasted time, thereby slowing down important decision-making.

So, what’s the answer? I’ve identified three key considerations for achieving faster and safer data delivery that ultimately ensures companies can extract the full value from their data assets.

Know and Show Your Data

Understanding what data you have is the first step to deciding how that information is to be shared. It’s only when this process begins that most organizations come to realize how dispersed their data really is, such as what’s contained in on-premise databases, cloud SaaS platforms, and other legacy software applications. 

Once identified, the challenge then becomes classifying the information with appropriate tags, for example, then cataloging and making the tags searchable in meaningful and intuitive ways. It’s also essential to keep the different end-users in mind in order to create a backend structure that makes sense for everyone ranging from marketing to human resources.

Look at things like whether your team members need to search by name, email address, location data, or product category. Will they need to know if customer information came from Salesforce or another platform? Considering this granular level of detail creates an automated, single-source database that becomes more useful.

I like to compare this to a typical e-commerce platform, where users can add data to their “shopping cart” and then request exactly what they need, just like ordering from Amazon.

Controlling and Governing Your Data: Say Goodbye to Manual Fulfillment

Unlike the automated e-commerce scenario that I just referenced, security-focused “default to no” and zero trust policies are forcing companies to evaluate information requests and fulfill them manually as they come in. As you can imagine, this turns into a very labor-intensive back-end process that slows down requests as well as creates inconsistencies in data control and release.

Without a unified, real-time data governance solution in place, what should be a five-minute fulfillment process can take three or four days, which is unacceptable in a fast-moving organization. Manually processing these requests also can result in the data stewards in charge of fulfillment having different standards for confirming who’s authorized to get a particular data set and who’s not. These review/approval tasks often fall on teams who have other full-time responsibilities on top of their data stewardship roles. 

Humans are, after all, humans, which means manual fulfillment is almost certain to lead to mistakes that can have critical consequences, not only from a security perspective, such as data leaks, but from an accuracy standpoint as well. Just imagine the potential for error when IT teams can receive as many as 10 to 15 requests per day and are pressed to fulfill them as quickly as possible.

Unification and Automation Are the Answer

If you haven’t figured it out by now, unifying and automating the data fulfillment process eliminates errors while creating a vastly improved user experience. Creating a single point of data governance across the entire company not only identifies who can access specific information, but also makes the whole process faster and more secure. 

Other desirable features include automating data discovery, analysis, and cataloging, which allow companies to find data across the entire ecosystem, document data lineage, and type and tag it. Once that data has been identified, policy and permissions can be applied.  

Adding in an access control tool also helps regulate access based on those policies, ultimately bypassing the time-consuming and error-prone manual authorization workflow. Some SaaS-based solutions can also span multiple database types and automate access permissions in real time.

The result is a single central command and control center across the data ecosystem, which helps define and control what “access” means, whether root-level access or merely a reader account. Security also becomes a critical factor, particularly with HIPAA regulations, which require only the minimum standard of data to be made available to the user.

Finally, a constant consumption feedback feature lets the system know what data is consumed and by whom. This serves as a “double-check” against existing policies and immediately corrects any violations. 

Everybody wins when users have access to the information they need in minutes instead of days. Unifying and automating seemingly routine processes not only delivers the necessary speed but also reduces human error, which could have serious consequences.

When an organization’s data set is safer while being shared, the promise of data usage across the company can be delivered.