Data sharing is becoming the norm in a lot of organizations, as the pressure to deliver value from data intensifies. In fact, 2023 is the year of ROI in the workplace, and this includes data, too.
Whether you call it data mesh, data operationalization, data activation, or data democratization, the idea is the same: It is about giving business teams access to data to help them make data-driven decisions autonomously.
The principles of data sharing are simple:
- Everyone should have access to the data they need, not just certain roles or job titles.
- There should be no barriers preventing people from getting the data they need.
- The data should be organized and structured in a way that makes it easy for anyone to access, understand, and use it.
Data sharing aligns with the concept of self-service, as it eliminates the need for manual data delivery.
Some people consider data sharing daunting. What if it leads to confusion and chaos? The good news is that the rewards of proper implementation often outweigh any potential negative outcomes.
In this article, I'll share 5 reasons why you should start sharing your data with business teams and the positive impact you can expect to see. In an upcoming article, I will further explore approaches for the proper implementation of data sharing.
Data sharing can bring a number of significant benefits to your organization, including the ability to unify your company's vision, improve decision-making, and increase productivity. Additionally, data sharing can also help to foster innovation and drive improvements in data quality throughout your company. Let’s dive in!
1 - Unify your company’s vision
Data sharing has the potential to align different teams around your company's strategy by creating a marketplace for employees to autonomously access and use the data they need.
In practice, this means that all departments have access to the same data and the same context around data. That is, it brings everyone onto the same page regarding definitions, how metrics are calculated, and which datasets are the best to use. It ensures everyone speaks the same language, based on a shared set of definitions and vocabulary. This leads to consistency across reports produced by different departments.
In the absence of data sharing, departments can operate in silos, and their reports often end up disagreeing. The risk of this is that each unit may use different definitions and methods of calculation for the same concepts. And when people have different definitions, their reports say different things. Reports that contradict each other slow down decision-making and lead to trust erosion. Data sharing allows companies to eliminate this kind of incoherence.
Beyond that, Data sharing allows for greater visibility into how the organization functions. Every department can track progress and see the bigger picture. This can foster collaboration and help everyone work towards the same set of goals, instead of focusing on their own, isolated views.
2- Enhance decision-making
It’s typical to witness enhanced decision-making once you open up access to data.
When business departments can access relevant data, they make informed and accurate decisions. No more guessing or relying on gut feelings.
Data sharing ensures business teams incorporate data in their day-to-day operations without compromising on speed. This way, data can power real-time decisions across all departments, in addition to fueling long-term strategic decisions through reporting.
Furthermore, data democratization removes traditional bottlenecks in the decision-making process. When only technical teams can access data, other teams have to ask for their help to get information.
In many organizations, the distribution of data to various consumers is still done manually. First, business users request a dataset. Then, the analytics team takes in the request, interprets it, and tries to verify the request with the business team. When the interpretation is wrong, this little back-and-forth game can go on for a while.
This delays the decision-making process and burdens technical teams. Plus, a data team that needs to keep up with business people's requests does not scale well.
Data sharing frees up the analytics team for deeper, more meaningful data analysis. When analytics can move away from basic reporting - providing data facts to other teams, and answering tickets - they can focus on what we really need analysts’ skillsets for.
All-in-all, Data sharing improves decision-making, while freeing up valuable time for technical teams. In short, it means better, faster, smarter decisions for everyone. What's not to love?
3 - Boost productivity
It doesn't stop here. Data sharing also impacts productivity across all teams.
When stakeholders can access a single source of truth, they can move faster with their tasks.
When relying on manual processes to request and deliver data, speed is a major issue. With data sharing, stakeholders don't have to spend time searching for data or waiting for someone else to provide it to them. This also reduces the risk of errors, as employees have access to the most up-to-date and accurate data.
Data sharing also eliminates duplication of work and dashboard re-building. If something already exists, stakeholders will know it. They will build on the existing stuff rather than starting a project from scratch. And re-using is more efficient than re-building.
When departments operate in silos, different teams spend time re-building the same stuff. This is because they don't have a way of checking if a given material already exists.
Data sharing thus empowers organizations to leverage their collective knowledge. This saves both time and resources, making organizations more efficient and productive.
4- Foster innovation
Data sharing fosters innovation through increasing cross-department collaboration and removing silos between teams.
As previously stated, Data sharing allows employees to access and use data that they might not have been able to get on their own. This can spark new ideas and approaches that they might not have considered before.
For example, if an employee in the marketing department has access to data from the sales department, they might be able to identify new ways to target potential customers or optimize their marketing strategies.
Second, Data sharing promotes collaboration between teams. It allows individuals to see what others are working on and share their own ideas and insights. This can lead to new perspectives and approaches. These usually do not emerge when teams are operating in silos.
Data sharing can thus create an environment that is conducive to innovation. It gives employees the information they need to collaborate with their colleagues and share insights. This leads to improved products, services, and processes.
5 - Improve data quality
Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to data. In fact, Data sharing can help you boost data quality. Data Sharing increases scrutiny and verification of the data's accuracy and completeness.
With more pairs of eyes looking at the data, it is easier to spot mistakes or poor-quality data. This leads to greater accountability for data quality and the ability to fix any issues that may arise.
Data sharing also enhances trust in the reliability of the data. When a small group controls the data, it can be hard for others to verify its accuracy or understand the context in which it was collected.
This can lead to skepticism and mistrust of the data, which can act as a roadblock to decision-making. Data sharing thus makes it easier for everyone to understand and trust the data they're using.
Data sharing thus means better data quality, enhanced decision-making, and improved context. All this can lead to smarter decision-making and greater alignment between different departments. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
Data sharing will continue to gain traction for two reasons:
- Companies are looking to leverage their data to the fullest extent, as the pressure to gain a return on investment from data increases.
- An increasing number of tools are being developed to make data easily accessible to business users, such as Reverse ETL and Data Catalogs.
Data sharing has the potential to improve strategic alignment and enhance decision-making processes. It can also increase productivity, foster innovation, and improve data quality.
Yet, it is important to note that if implemented carelessly, Data sharing could lead to confusion and chaos. My next articles will focus on how to establish Data sharing in a way that avoids these pitfalls and helps organizations realize the full benefits of data democratization. Keep an eye out!
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