Data democratization is becoming a hot topic in the startup and business world, and for good reason. Data democratization — and democratization of data knowledge by extension — can be extremely beneficial for the teams in your company. But what do these phrases mean? How do you apply these concepts to your own data structures?
In the simplest terms, data democratization allows everyone in your business to have intuitive access to the data they need for making data-driven decisions, compiling reports, and any other task that requires quality data.
However, that’s not where data democratization should stop. To enact the democratization of data knowledge in your business, your users should not only be able to access data, but they should also feel comfortable and confident in their ability to work with that data and understand it.
True data democratization will be an ongoing process, where you’ll need to update your tools, documentation, and employee training and onboarding to ensure everyone is enabled to make the most of the data your organization has available.
Now that we understand the task at hand, let’s talk about some of the benefits of data democratization and how you can implement it in your business.
What are the benefits?
When you prioritize data democratization, there are many benefits to gain for your teams and your business as a whole. First and foremost, data democratization can make your entire organization more data literate, which means more data-driven decisions throughout every department. In short, all of your employees are empowered to make data-driven decisions.
Let’s take a look at some other great benefits of democratizing your data knowledge.
Information is easily searchable
When an organization doesn’t prioritize data democratization, almost all data requests are going to be filtered through your IT or data team. In other words, access to your data will be overly controlled to the point of inefficiency.
Every user will have to make data requests instead of getting instant access to the data they need. IT and data teams get bogged down with these requests when they could be focusing on other work. With data democratization, data is easily searchable for everyone. All users will feel comfortable searching databases for specific queries and information without having to rely on the data team for help. This also helps the data team, as they now have more time and they can more easily search and find information for their own applications.
Find analytics and reports faster
Data democratization saves time, which also saves money. The hours spent on finding and parsing data can be drastically reduced, making it much easier for all team members to create reports, find analytics, and focus on strategy. While data democratization may require some time and money investment on your part in the beginning, your efforts will start paying dividends when everyone has quick and easy access to the data they need to do their jobs on a daily basis.
This also improves collaboration and data sharing between teams and departments. When data literacy is common across your organization, your teams can solve problems together more easily.
Improve data quality
Data democratization also improves the quality and integrity of your data. Typically, data democratization requires you to organize and clean your data, meaning your data will be centralized as a single source of truth. Part of the ongoing data democratization process is making sure data isn’t siloed, missing, or inaccurate. All of your teams should be able to search a query and get the same data.
Having all of your data organized and in one searchable place also helps with data governance and security. Additionally, it further improves the aforementioned collaboration benefits. When your teams are seeing the same data, there’s less time spent trying to figure out which information is the right information.
With data democratization, information becomes accessible to the right people, it is updated across the entire organization, and those who need to find data will always be able to find the most accurate information possible.
Common mistakes data teams make
Companies that don’t consider data democratization and give their employees the access they need can run into a lot of problems. Several common mistakes that data teams make create obstacles to true data democratization.
- Limited access: Some level of data governance is necessary for most organizations. Not every user needs to have access to every single data point in your organization. However, controlling your data too strictly can lead to bottlenecks and inefficiencies. Analytic and reporting data should be easily accessible by more than just your data and IT teams.
- Lack of security: When companies go all in for data democratization, they can run into problems with governance and security. While it’s true that users should have access to the information their team needs, you still need to ensure sensitive information is protected and that you adhere to compliance regulations when applicable. As you implement data democratization, it will be important to collaborate with your IT and data teams to ensure access to relevant data isn’t limited while also protecting private and sensitive data on an as-needed basis.
- Data silos and inaccuracies: Data silos can cause a lot of problems for an organization, especially when you’re trying to implement data democratization. Organizations with multiple data sources and repositories may find that they have data silos, duplicate data, missing information, and various other errors or inaccuracies that can lead to mistakes and inefficiencies. When you’re implementing data democratization, it’s important to ensure you have the right measures in place and the right tools to ensure your data is centralized and that you’re working with a single source of truth.
- Not using the right tools: Speaking of tools, it’s essential to do your research and find the right tools for your data stack. There are a number of tools out there that can help with data democratization. Self-service analytics tools, data catalog tools, and various other types of software can help you get your data organized and provide your users with an intuitive interface to access and search the data they need.
Data democratization is an ongoing process, so there’s no need to worry if you don’t get everything right immediately. As you learn and work with your team, you’ll discover what works best for your organization and improve your processes.
How to democratize your data
Now that we understand why data democratization is important, how do you implement it in your organization? While the process will differ depending on your organization’s needs, we have some general steps to get you started.
- Look at your current data environment: First things first, you need to get a comprehensive overview of your current data situation. That means finding all of your data sources, looking at your current data stack, finding the information gaps and inefficiencies, and determining what needs to change. Your IT and data teams will be helpful during this step.
- Talk to your employees: Make sure you’re consulting the front line. Your teams are going to know better than anyone where their bottlenecks are and where the data inefficiencies lie. Involving your employees in the data democratization implementation process will help you build the best solution for your organization. This also helps with employee buy-in when you start to implement the new processes.
- Find your data stack: Now is when the research begins. You’ll need to add tools to your data stack to help you democratize your data. This will take some time, but it’s essential to find the tools that are right for you. Start with determining your budget, looking at the different solutions out there, and identifying which tools provide the features you need. You’ll also want to be thinking of the future during this stage. Ensure your stack is scalable with your organization’s potential growth and that the tools are flexible enough to work within the structure of your business. Consider that many tools and solutions offer demos and free trials. Now is a great time to give these tools and solutions a try to see if they can provide what you need.
- Onboard, train, and educate: Once you have your data solutions, you’ll want to make sure your employees are comfortable with the new processes. Remember, data democratization is more than just providing access to data; it’s also making sure everyone in your organization knows how to use it. This step will be ongoing to ensure you provide your employees with the proper education and training to maintain data literacy and make the most of your tools. Continue to check in with employees and update their training to ensure they always know how to make the most of the tools they now have available to them.
- Assess: In addition to ongoing education, you should also re-assess your data stack on an ongoing basis. As your organization grows and technology changes, your data needs will likely change as well. Make sure your data stack doesn’t become outdated and that you’re always providing your teams with accurate, high-quality data.
Getting started with a data catalog tool
When choosing tools for a data democratization-friendly organization, you’ll also want to consider data catalog tools. Data catalog tools help you to organize your data into a single space, making it easily searchable while also improving your data governance.
Even small organizations create massive amounts of data every day, so a data catalog tool will be essential to prevent data from becoming siloed, inaccurate, or difficult to navigate. If you’re looking for a data catalog solution for your business, Secoda can help.
Try Secoda for free
Secoda gives your teams confidence to use data by providing a single, centralized space for your organization’s data knowledge. Using Secoda, your team can search the data portal the same way they would search Google, making it easy for both data teams and non-technical users.
Secoda can improve your company's data literacy, create better visibility, save your data team time, aggregate your data across all data sources, and much more. Try Secoda for free to see if it’s a good fit for your business. Click below to get started!