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From the Trenches: Why Companies Aren’t Optimizing Their Data Strategies

Insights from Gartner Data & Analytics Summit 2018: Dallas, TX

Guest Author: Rachel Bland – Sr. Director Product Management at Datawatch

If you have been wrestling with trying to make data and analytics work for your company, you’re not alone.

We recently attended the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit 2018, during which we had the opportunity to discover the biggest challenges and concerns organizations face when designing and implementing data strategies.

Most attendees cited difficulties with turning the large amount of data being generated and collected every day into actionable insights. This is why data warehouses get dusty and data lakes become data swamps.

They also cited challenges with identifying the most commonly used information and understanding its lineage and change history to ensure accuracy and promote trust in data.

Some of the attendees we spoke with have tried a number of solutions, from self-service analytics tools and business intelligence reporting systems to master data management platforms and data catalogs. And yet things still feel disjointed.

Too often, these applications are simply set on autopilot. Self-service BI tools are filling up users’ inboxes with reports, yet nobody has any idea who is consuming the content or acting on the insights. Data storage and catalog systems are usually just science projects that benefit IT, but have little impact for the end users who have context for the data.

The issue that underlies many of these challenges is the lack of balance between data governance and end user data agility. Where should you begin and how can you strike the balance?

Common Challenges in Data Governance

An effective data governance policy isn’t about locking down the data, which puts analysts in a situation where they can either adhere to the rules OR get their jobs done.

However, a data “free for all” isn’t the answer either. Regulatory requirements and basic common-sense demand that organizations protect sensitive information.

After working with companies of all sizes for many years, we have learned that data leaks, inability to audit, and meeting regulatory compliance standards are the main concerns.

Corporations are wary about the lack of trust in data that results from inconsistencies and lack of traceability.

Leaders are also dealing with data-related situations that keep them up at night, such as breaches of sensitive information that can get them sued or fired, usage of data from unverified sources that could be inappropriate, out of date, or simply inaccurate, and a lack of visibility of who is using what data, when, and how.

Not to mention, when processing a large amount of information, teams often fall behind in identifying and sharing the most relevant data that is cleaned and ready for use. As a result, organizational performance and efficiency are impacted.

Make Data Work for Your Business Without Sacrificing Governance

How can you maintain rigorous data governance without sacrificing accessibility and collaboration within your organization?

In the Expo Hall of the Gartner conference, we showcased to over 1,000 attendees, how a centralized platform designed to encourage data-driven collaboration among departments, while allowing oversight and governance, can help:

  • Capture and track the lineage of data from all sources to ensure accuracy and integrity.
  • Offer insights through machine learning on data usage so you can prioritize data preparation tasks and help curators decide what to focus on.
  • Encourage data sharing through a centralized data marketplace (instead of having to email or upload to a shared drive) to ensure security and accuracy.
  • Allow users to easily locate relevant data through machine learning recommendations.
  • Provide data preparation visual overviews and change list to show what exactly has been done to the data.
  • Allow users to collaborate and share feedback using social features.
  • Keep team leads notified about activities in their areas of responsibility so they can keep an eye on content and quality.
  • Provide controlled access and the ability to mask sensitive information to ensure security and compliance.

Don’t let data governance hold you back from fully utilizing the vast amount of data you have at your disposal.