The Data Analyst role has long existed under different names throughout the evolution of companies...
Why is data democracy essential?
Today, data analysis still is the domain of a select group of people with specialized skills. Data engineers design, build, and maintain the systems that enable organizations to collect, store, transform, and analyze data at scale. Data analysts analyze this data and present their findings to the decision-makers, who then make decisions based on that analysis.
As the volume of data being gathered continues to increase exponentially, organizations are increasingly reliant on data teams to interpret data and derive meaningful business insights.
However, not all teams have the luxury of having a dedicated team of data engineers and analysts. In fact, lesser-equipped organizations may find the abundance of data meaningless as they struggle to make sense of it. In addition, the dependency presents several challenges for organizations with capable data teams. While data teams play a crucial role in helping organizations make sense of their data, relying solely on data teams to interpret data and derive insights can lead to a number of problems, including:
- Bottlenecks: When only a select group of people are responsible for interpreting data, it can create bottlenecks in the decision-making process. This can lead to delays in taking action based on insights, which can be costly for the organization.
- Limited perspective: Data teams may have a limited perspective on the business and may not fully understand the context in which the data is being used. This can result in insights that are not actionable or relevant to the broader business objectives.
- Lack of ownership: When only data teams are responsible for interpreting data, it can create a sense of disconnect between the data and the broader organization. This can result in a lack of ownership and accountability for the insights derived from the data.
- Cost: Building and maintaining a data team can be expensive for organizations. This can be a barrier for smaller organizations or organizations with limited resources.
Organizations that are able to democratize data and provide access to insights across the organization can avoid these problems and ensure that insights are actionable, relevant, and owned by the wider organization.
What steps are necessary to promote data democracy within your organization?
When used effectively, data remains a powerful tool for generating insights and driving business success. As organizations generate and collect more data, it is essential that the data is accessible to everyone in the organization. Achieving data democracy in an organization involves creating a culture that values data-driven decision-making and provides access to data and insights across the organization. Here are some practices that can help achieve it:
- Create a data-driven culture. Build a data-driven culture, and educate and train employees on the value of data and how to use it to make decisions. Conduct workshops and training sessions that teach employees how to use data to inform their work. Here’s a great blog piece on how to cultivate a data-driven culture in your team written by Dengsøe: https://towardsdatascience.com/the-important-purple-people-outside-the-data-team-e97f4bfbc192.
- Establish data governance policies. These policies ensure that data is used consistently and responsibly across the organization. This includes policies regarding data privacy, security, and access that help protect the integrity of the data and ensure that it is used appropriately. Go a step further by implementing role-based access control to ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive information. Read Andrieiev’s piece on implementing the right data governance framework for your team: https://medium.com/@jelvix/data-governance-framework-implementation-guide-e5161afa454f
- Provide access to data and insights. One of the most important aspects of achieving data democracy is to provide access to data and insights across the organization. This can be done through data visualization tools, dashboards, and other reporting mechanisms that make it easy for employees to access and understand data. These tools enable business users to access data and generate insights without requiring deep technical knowledge. Popular BI tools include Tableau, Power BI, and QlikView.
- Foster collaboration across teams. Collaboration across teams is essential for achieving data democracy. This involves breaking down silos and encouraging teams to share data and insights with each other. Collaboration can be encouraged through cross-functional meetings, data-sharing agreements, and other mechanisms that promote knowledge sharing.
Democratizing data is like giving everyone a map to navigate the business jungle. It enables faster and more accurate decision-making, boosts operational efficiency, fuels innovation, and engages employees meaningfully. Without data democracy, organizations risk getting lost in the thick of competition and missing out on growth opportunities. Standard business practices and tools such as BI tools, data governance frameworks, and agile methodologies can support achieving data democracy in an organization.