Taking a strategic approach to data access

Taking a strategic approach to data access, movement and preparation

Taking a strategic approach to data access, movement and preparation
Hernando Borda, offering manager for IBM Bluemix Data Connect, IBM Analytics, at IBM, plays an instrumental role in building out the capabilities of IBM Bluemix Data Connect, a cloud-based, data preparation and movement service. Borda’s background is in computer science and software engineering, and he is a named author on an IBM patent for multithreaded processes.

We interviewed Borda to find out why he believes IBM Bluemix Data Connect is a well-suited tool for a new strategic approach to data preparation.

Well, everyone agrees that data analytics is a growing source of value and competitive differentiation for enterprises. What’s also clear is that it’s challenging for data professionals—including application developers, business analysts and data scientists—to quickly get their hands on the good-quality data they need. According to a Forrester study, these people are spending up to 80 percent of their time finding and refining data, which means they don’t have much time to actually do useful analysis with it.

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A key challenge is that enterprise data is, rightly, subject to heavy governance and security. Data is arguably the most valuable asset for all businesses, and IT professionals need to absolutely safeguard it by controlling access. This safeguarding leads to the ask-and-wait cycle: data professionals submit a request for a particular set of data, wait for the response, find that it’s not exactly what they were expecting, resubmit a refined response, and so on. The cycle is frustrating for them, and it’s also just as frustrating for IT staff, who need to put aside more interesting and valuable work to try to interpret ad hoc requests. In addition to the administrative costs and inefficiencies, this iterative cycle of tactical requests introduces significant delays, making it challenging for the enterprise to seize new opportunities.

Analyzing data from multiple sources can yield richer insights, and therefore data scientists are also faced with the challenge of getting access to multiple and disparate sources of data including on-premises data and data from the cloud. For example, they might want to understand the impact of weather conditions on sales. In this scenario, not only do they need to source the appropriate internal data by negotiating with IT, but they also need to combine it with data from weather.com to create a hybrid data set. Read the report “Don’t let data preparation get in the way of your analytics.” It discusses how leaving data preparation until the end can kill your analytics, and why cloud-based data refinement services are a game changer for data science professionals.

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IBM Bluemix Data Connect is a self-service data preparation and movement solution that enables business users to load data from multiple sources, transform it and deliver it to multiple targets. It automates tedious and time-consuming tasks to shape, format and get data ready, and it enables data professionals to preview their data, cleanse it and deliver it for downstream analytics. And because the service sits on the IBM Bluemix platform, pushing the cleansed and profiled data straight into analytics services such as dashDB and IBM Watson Analytics can be easy and seamless.

And it provides a user-friendly, spreadsheet-like interface that empowers data professionals to find the data they need, get it into the format they want and deliver it to their preferred analytics tools. By giving data professionals fast, self-service access to relevant and easily consumable data, IBM Bluemix Data Connect cuts out the middleman and reduces time to insight.

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