Take a minute and think about how your organization is currently using its data. Who has access? Who is breaking down the information? Who is making decisions from it?
Now ask yourself: Who could benefit from access? Who needs to break down the information and make decisions from the data?
Once you’ve answered these two sets of questions, see how they align. Many organizations may find that data use and accessibility is encompassed mainly by the data stewards of the company – the data scientists, engineers, and the entire IT department. Often times, companies have even staffed employees whose sole job is to generate reports for other employees and executive leadership.
When taking a deeper look into who could benefit from and make data-driven decisions, we can presume your answer involved more than just those roles. That’s where data democratization comes into play.
What is Data Democratization?
Simply put, data democratization involves the process where anybody can use data at any time to make decisions. Across departments, job roles, and position levels, the end user’s access is not limited by data science responsibilities or background experience.
Data democratization is not a one-size fits all structure. Depending on how your business operates and the purpose you serve, there are varying degrees of who should be coming in contact with data and making use out of necessary metrics.
Concerns that Come with Data Democracy
As with any large business endeavor, naturally reservations arise. We’ll go over two main concerns that often circulate around the shift towards data democratization: data security and duplicated efforts.
The more users who have access to data, the larger risk there is in ensuring that data holds integrity across the organization. Those who have a deeper understanding of their internal databases and how data is being stored want to feel confident the quality of their data is not being undermined when broadened to a wider audience.
Reaching data democracy while keeping levels of data quality consistent is still possible through the implementation of a successful BI dashboard solution. iDashboards provides multiple options to uphold a layer of data security depending on how it’s being shared. In some cases, you want metrics completely public, but still need to protect the back-end data. In other cases, you may want to share information only with those who have established user permissions. If this is the case, it is also important to leverage existing technologies like Single Sign-On (SSO) and Active Directory (LDAP) should these applications already be implemented into your organization.
Another preemptive concern that comes with data democratization is a waste of time and resources from repeated efforts of departments involved. With a centralized analytics structure, the way processes are executed can have stronger oversight from the core data analytics team outsourcing their efforts to the entire organization.
However, there are ways to control for this risk and effectively manage data responsibilities being shared. A decentralized analytics structure, when regulated properly, can guide departments in pursuing their own data initiatives but maintain transparency in efforts to decrease redundancy. Learn more on how decentralized analytics can impact responsive decision-making, employee growth, and bridge data and business value.
Where the Value Lies
Most companies have data silos, which makes the process of data utilization unproductive and inefficient. Companies that are able to democratize their data have a unique competitive advantage. Data democratization does more than just increase organization-wide efficiency. It empowers employees to be better informed, less biased, and advocates for their own data education. Essentially, it provides one source of truth for all pertinent key performance indicators and metrics.
Combating Confirmation Bias
If an employee does not have immediate access to data, they may find themselves prone to making a decision or assumption before looking at the evidence. When the data is finally available, an individual may be more likely to warp that information to support the decision that they’ve already made. This is a form of confirmation bias.
The best way to combat confirmation bias is by providing data, facts, and figures upfront – before drawing your own conclusion. When data is available from the onset, there is a greater responsibility placed on employees to use that data in their decision-making process. This will get you on the right path towards making data-driven decisions, instead of data-confirmed ones.
Data democratization simply doesn’t work if you can’t meet people where their data competency begins. Not everyone in your organization is going to be a student of statistics or inherently data-minded. While some data literacy training may be involved for certain employees, don’t get bogged down with trying to educate everyone on complex tools or lines of code. Visualization makes it easier for everyone to understand and learn from the data in front of them.
Incorporating interactivity into your visualization takes it to the next level. It allows employees to dig deeper and take their data analysis training into their own hands. With an interactive data visualization dashboard, users can click on data points that interest them and drill down to see what data is driving the numbers they are seeing from the top-level view. Interactive elements can provide important context that empowers employees to discover why certain patterns and relationships exist in the data.
Bringing it All Together
When data can be integrated to feed interdisciplinary insights, organizations can deliver more effectively on key functions that may otherwise go unnoticed if seen from one perspective. An operational system that encourages knowledge and resource expansion but streamlines execution can lead a business to be data-driven and have lasting impact.
Learn what data democratization can do to empower employees and bring measurable value to your organization. Contact iDashboards today to get started.
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