Stakeholders across the enterprise are clamoring for data democracy. Leaders in human resources, marketing, sales, customer service, supply chain and nearly every other department of the enterprise are painfully aware that information is key to their success, and they’re pushing IT to tear down the siloes that make data difficult to access and analyze.
IT teams can’t ignore the cry for data democratization – the broad availability of all the metrics needed to make decisions and measure performance. But the response will not be easy.
There are technological challenges involved, of course, but the political hurdles are just as difficult to jump. On both fronts, IT has to lead the way. Technology questions to ask on the way to data democracy
Before tackling the thornier political questions that can impede data democracy, IT leaders need to evaluate the technological impediments. These questions are a useful place to start:
1. How mature is our organization in its approach to data storage and normalization?
2. Do we have a centralized data officer?
3. How have we organized information in our data warehouse?
4. Is the structure normalized and conducive to broad access?
5. What data types do we have?
6. When our users ask for access, is it CRM data, sales data, loyalty data, customer call data, social media data or other information streams they want?
7. Do we have a standardized set of business intelligence and analytics tools used across the enterprise?
All of these technology challenges need to be addressed to make data democracy a reality inside the enterprise, but solving them is not enough to destroy the siloes. Many of the walls that separate information were put there by people, and people will need to agree – enthusiastically – to bring them down.
Everyone wants to protect “their” assets. They want to own “their” data. And they often fail to see how that mentality hampers overall business success. Why is that IT’s problem? Because no matter how elegant the technological solutions you put in place might be, if data “owners” revolt, those tools become irrelevant. So how do you get people onboard?
As individuals, we’re willing to give up some personal data if it benefits us in a tangible way. The same is true inside organizations: if you explain the benefits teams will get when they share access to the data they control, then they’ll be more likely to evangelize it to colleagues, paving the way for data democracy. Consider these examples:
• Ambitious customer care representatives and managers need to know who’s complaining the most.