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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Empowering Data Democratization with David Stodder

David Stodder, senior research director for business intelligence with TDWI, discusses empowering data democratization by modernizing data governance and management practices.

In this “Speaking of Data” podcast, TDWI’s Dave Stodder discussed empowering data democratization by modernizing data governance and management practices. Stodder is senior research director for business intelligence at TDWI. [Editor’s note: Speaker quotations have been edited for length and clarity.]

For Further Reading:

Data Democratization Tops List of Data-Centric Trends for 2023

How Enterprises Can Democratize Mainframe Data

Three Ingredients of Innovative Data Governance

“Empowered users have become a critical part of organizations’ efforts to continuously improve and use data for competitive advantage,” Stodder began. “Before, it was more for large companies, but now companies of all sizes are having to learn to work with data effectively to align their resources better with their overall objectives.”

He listed operational efficiency, risk and threat analysis, data security, and agility as just a few areas where increasing awareness of data management principles are affecting all levels of the enterprise.

“At TDWI, we see a real concentration on accelerating progress and giving users better access, increasing interactivity, and speeding collaboration,” Stodder added. “Being able to have a team across the enterprise agree on the data they’re working with, that’s not always a simple task, so it boils down to improving trust in your data, having better quality data, and being able to validate your data faster.”

He gave the example of customer-facing operations -- areas such as marketing, sales, and customer support -- as places where ready access to data and analytics is especially important. “These teams are often in close contact with customers and more in tune with the questions that need to be answered,” he explained, “so it’s essential that they be able to get actionable information faster.”

Stodder pointed out one trend being driven by this increased need for speed is the ongoing move toward self-service analytics.

“Now, business analysts no longer need to stop what they’re going to go get the data they need to answer a question,” he said. “Instead, users of all technical levels have the tools right at hand to get what they need and keep right on working. Obviously, the increase in productivity is profound. The new generation of AI augmentation will only accelerate this process.” Stodder did point out, though, that a similar sequence of events happened with BI tools, which eventually became so complex and expensive that only a limited number of users could have access at one time.

This brought the conversation to the topic of governance.

“One of the big challenges of governance,” Stodder said, “is to be effective but not an obstacle.” He explained that one path organizations are taking to resolve this is by automating data governance to the extent possible so that users are operating within guidelines without a strong negative impact on their work.

“Organizations are turning to a number of governance tools to maintain their governance objectives,” he said. “Tools such as master data management systems, data catalogs, business glossaries, and data lineage tools are giving users shortcuts to finding and using trusted data sets.”

Stodder mentioned another issue organizations are working through: the persistence of data silos. “One solution that’s growing in popularity is using data virtualization with a data fabric,” he said. “This also contributes to effective governance in that having a single view of the available data provides a more limited number of access points to data, increasing security.”

He added that these silos also contribute to issues with data quality that many organizations continue to struggle with.

“Data quality is about making sure your data is error-free and consistent, even in cases when the data source is constantly changing,” he said. “Moving data can be an expensive proposition that introduces errors and technical issues such as increased latency, so being able to get a single view without having to copy or move data to another location is really beneficial.” He noted that there will still be instances where data will need to move, but organizations will benefit from keeping that to a minimum.

Stodder took pains to mention the value that having data stewards and a chief data officer in place were essential to organizations looking to solidify their data and analytics practices. “People who know the data and its quality, understand the governance rules, and have access to the data catalog or other tools are best able to mentor other users and act as intermediaries between users and developers to help improve the system.”

He closed the presentation by explaining that the key will be having all these people working in concert to increase effectiveness and reduce costs and making sure that the whole data ecosystem is aligned with achieving business goals and values.

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