Empowerment without Chaos: the Dream and the Possibility

Most chief executives have dreamed of leadership that permeates their organizations at every level. Yet to have that, every decision maker from the C-suite down would need data. And they fear that such data democratization may invite anarchy.

Despite that fear, their dream persists, and for good reason. Organizations with democratized data tend to have more buy-in, people at all levels take more responsibility, and their ideas are more relevant, with a greater chance of real impact. They feel stronger loyalty. Overall, there’s just plain smarter decision making.

The evidence comes from a variety of contexts. Military battles have been won because low level officers were free to think for themselves. Organizations have thrived on products that spawned when a mid-level manager pursued an idea. Workforces have toughed out hard times when data let them believe in fairness and a bright future.

We believe that organizations really can have the benefits of data democratization while they minimize the risks — as implied in Gartner’s theme for this month’s Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit, to be held March 14-16: “Empowerment without anarchy.” But how’s that done?

Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit

In the eyes of the beholder

The first step toward data democratization is to recognize that data access means something different to each user.

The business user’s goal is to answer questions with the best possible accuracy while the time is ripe. For business users, it starts with a full view of what data’s available and each set’s characteristics — as if in an Amazon search. When they can see what’s going on in their market segments, they can form the right questions. They can also manage their work better knowing when critical data will land in their hands.

For IT, that access by business users often inspires fear. Will IT lose control over the data’s integrity? If that happens, what consequences may follow? They need that concern satisfied.

Eliminate process bottlenecks with managed self-service

Each set of needs can be satisfied with a semantic metadata catalog that bridges all data sources — from data silos to the data warehouse. Data stays where it lives, so all existing governance and security still apply. In fact, that catalog actually allows IT to apply security and governance to a degree they couldn’t before — while your business users have even easier, more thorough data discovery. That’s when the data can work for the organization to full benefit.

For the business users, this eliminates the time-consuming back and forth with IT. They get the best data sets when they need them, before opportunities expire, while threats are most manageable, and to inform decisions in time.

Data democratization is what Attivio provides. It launches from a self-service, browser based interface to sniff data from all sources, warehouse to under-the-desk silo. As it crawls, it creates virtual data marts that combine tables it finds. It joins data sets based on automatic and advanced sampling. It creates a rich catalog for users across the organization.

Analytics at the speed of business

To compete on analytics, an efficient, agile data supply chain is critical. No organization has time for manual processes that only cause IT-vs-business struggles. Business users have no time to wait for the data they need. IT can’t live with lack of governance or lax security. The agile data supply chain is part of every organization that truly competes on analytics.

If you’d like to learn more, please stop by our booth at the Gartner Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit, to be held March 14-16 in Grapevine, Texas (next door to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport). We look forward to answering your questions and to giving you a closer look at Attivio. 

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