By using website you agree to our use of cookies as described in our cookie policy. Learn More

TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Balancing the Need for Speed with Data Compliance

Moving data preparation tasks to IT frees data scientists to focus on analysis.

Currently, data scientists spend almost 80 percent of their time preparing and organizing data for analysis, meaning that generating valuable insights the business can act on often ends up on the backburner. This indicates a clear need for businesses to speed up the process to get to the insights faster. However, as organizations try to address this problem, balancing quick data access for decision makers with the IT team's responsibility to ensure data is handled safely and securely is an ongoing challenge.

For Further Reading:

The Essential Role Data Quality Plays in Compliance 

Four Strategies to Drive Real Business Value through Data Governance

Data Preparation: Advanced Analytics to the Rescue

For IT teams, this adds to the mounting pressure they already face to ensure the correct protocols are in place to prevent a breach as huge numbers of businesses work remotely and are, therefore, more susceptible to cyberattacks. IT must implement the tools and processes needed to streamline their data processes to provide decision-makers with quick, easy access to data to drive their organization forward and maintain data privacy. This will be made possible by following these steps:

1. Identify and understand the data

Businesses are generating more data than ever. Many organizations have multiple systems in place, including legacy technology. Resulting siloes often make it difficult for businesses to get a clear overview of their data. Therefore, before any processes can be put in place, IT departments must identify and understand all of their data sources, documenting where data is stored, and what information it contains.

Next, IT teams should identify a central repository in which to store data to facilitate easy access. Make sure the repository is secure and complies with data management regulations.

2. Implement approval mechanisms

To ensure that only authorized workers have access to sensitive data, it is vital to implement approval mechanisms. As part of this process, the IT team should be able to see who has been granted approval and why, as well as what data they will have access to and how they will use it. All of this information will also prove useful when it comes to auditing the data at a later stage.

Review who has access on a regular basis. After all, some individuals may only need short-term access for a single project, therefore periodic reviews are as important as the approval mechanism itself. This process could be aided by using tools that allow IT teams to define how long users have access to data so they do not have to review the protocol as frequently.

Although these steps take time to implement, once the IT team has put processes in place, they can be followed every time. Then the business only needs to add a new step for the IT team to set up new protocols ensuring safe handling of data and appropriate access.

3. Work together

Traditionally, much of the data preparation has fallen to data scientists, which is not the best use of their time, particularly given that the IT department is likely to have a better understanding of the businesses' applications and the data they hold. By working together, the IT team can complement data scientists by helping them identify and understand the company's data sources. This understanding will be extremely beneficial for data scientists and enable them to better prepare that data for analytics.

4. Adopt more intelligent tools

Once processes are in place to ensure that data is being handled and stored safely, adopting new technology such as augmented analytics will be fundamental in helping organizations speed up the preparation of data and make it easier to derive valuable insights. As augmented analytics employs the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automatically process data quickly and efficiently, it will cut down the time it takes to go from data to insight. This will reduce the amount of time IT teams and data scientists spend preparing data. It allows them to more quickly gain the insights needed to deliver value to the organization and its customers. Implementing tools which use these technologies will also help businesses to pinpoint where the data is identifying a problem so it can be fixed.

5. Find the right balance

Nowadays society is very speed-orientated and often lacks patience. However, businesses must exercise caution in their need for speed. With new privacy measures putting the responsibility on businesses to safeguard data, companies must realize that they might have to compromise on the speed of analyzing data to comply with regulations. After all, any benefits they gain from having quick access to data will ultimately be undone if they fail to comply with regulations. By putting safeguards in place and implementing augmented analytics, they will be better positioned to reduce the amount of time IT teams and data scientists spend preparing data. It will enable them to focus their efforts on gaining actionable insights to quickly drive their organization forward.

About the Author

Rakesh Jayaprakash is a product manager at ManageEngine, the IT management division of Zoho Corp. He is involved in product design and management of ManageEngine's IT analytics software, Analytics Plus. Rakesh specializes in building analytics integration with popular ITSM and ITOM applications to help companies leverage IT data to make business-critical decisions.

TDWI Membership

Accelerate Your Projects,
and Your Career

TDWI Members have access to exclusive research reports, publications, communities and training.

Individual, Student, and Team memberships available.