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How To Accelerate Data Democratization

|Chief Scientist
The future of data democratization lies in the hands of your end-users. They are already generating data, they know what problems they need to solve with it, and they know how to use that information for business value. It is time you let the end-users pull their own weight without having to rely on IT or Data Scientists for everything, a reliance which slows down speed-to-value.   Data democratization is a hot topic these days. But what exactly does it mean? What are the benefits of democratizing data? And how can you effectively implement this strategy in your organization?   In this blog post, we will explore the components that make up data democratization, as well as some of its advantages. And if that’s not enough, we will even provide some valuable insights into the data democratization tools you can use with DataSecOps.  

What Is Data Democratization?

At its core, data democratization is a process of leveling out access and responsibilities between business users (end-users), IT, and Data Scientists. Democratized data allows your end-users to make more informed decisions by bringing them closer to their own data—no matter how it is stored or where it resides within the company.   For example, a Database Analyst can now use a simple tool to search for all of their colleagues who work on the same project as them. This way, they no longer have to ask other colleagues if they happen to know the names of team members related to a specific project. Moreover, this tool will allow for faster collaboration and interoperability among people in the same team.   With democratized data at their fingertips, they do not need to rely on IT or Data Scientists for everything. Instead, data is automatically made available to everyone in the organization—from business analysts and data scientists all the way down to line-of-business workers.  

What Are the Main Benefits of Data Democratization?

Quicker Time-to-Value from Data

Democratizing data speeds up the process of leveraging information and makes it much easier to implement new applications that hold data in order to provide business value. For example, if your end-users have access to their own data source through a data democratization tool, they can now choose to employ this source towards a specific business task. Minimizing time-to-value is what really matters‚—and this is precisely where data democratization helps you exponentially.  

Fewer Bottlenecks of Enabling Authorization for Others

Another significant benefit when democratizing data is the reduction of bottlenecks, a change that allows everyone to focus on their own tasks rather than waiting around for someone else to give them access or enable a specific task. Instead, users have direct access and control over what they need—even if it is stored in a database, data lake, or cloud storage.   Data democratization allows you to reduce the amount of time spent on routine tasks, so your team can instead focus its energy and effort on more challenging problems through which they will be able to create even more value for your organization.  

Different Disciplines, Different Insights

People from different disciplines, such as marketing or customer success specialists, often have differing perspectives on the same problem. When you democratize data, it allows you to get insights that are fresh and new from diverse sources, as well as a more holistic view of your business problems—from multiple angles instead of just one.  

What Are the Challenges in Adopting Data Democratization?

Security Challenges

Opening data to more people adds risk and requires a high degree of confidence in the security and privacy controls. This risk is why it is so important to know your data sources, who has access to them, and what they can do with this information—especially if these resources are stored on-premises or in public clouds.  

Operational Challenges

Opening data to more people may also pose operational challenges, such as increasing spending or impacting data availability. Therefore, you should always ensure that your data sources are protected from unauthorized access and data loss.  

Compliance Challenges

Do you know who is accessing sensitive data? Do you audit everything? Do you know where all sensitive data is located? Do you know who has access to it, and for how long?   If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” you may be at risk of noncompliance and should revisit your data security protocol. If done without following proper procedures, data democratization can provide the wrong people with access to sensitive data and expose your organization to several compliance-related risks. To avoid this challenge, you need to have a clear understanding, visibility, and management of all activities related to this information.  

Organizational Challenges

It is easy not to trust other teams or groups within your organization to handle your data responsibly. Nevertheless, democratizing data requires a deep level of trust in the abilities and skill sets across your entire organization, so you can be sure no one will mess up with valuable information.   Establishing trust is not always easy, but you can increase trust by following steps like cross-team data workshops, reviews and designs that are open across different teams, and creating activities specifically aimed at increasing sharing and transparency of data between different parts of the organization.  

Key Factors When Democratizing Access to Data

Key Takeaways of Accelerating Data Democratization

Accomplishing data democratization has benefits not only for making good decisions but also for making the right decisions. Here are key takeaways of data democratization acceleration:
  • When you apply data democratization, secure your data accordingly. Always know where your sensitive data is, and who accesses it, and place security controls in an agile way that can scale to accommodate data democratization.
  • Educate, empower and encourage. Educate your data consumers to make sure they're aware of data security risks and how to prevent them, empower them to make value with the data, and encourage them to use data in a responsible way.
  • Gain fresh perspectives from your new circle of data consumers.
  • Increase your decision-making accuracy and speed, as you rely less on bottlenecks of specific data analytics units, and have more people who can make sense of data.
  • Reduce avoidable mistakes, as people have direct access to data, and don't necessarily rely on other users' interpretation of the data.
  • Create more value from data, quicker, by making fast data-driven value.
  • Unlock new opportunities, as a wider variety of stakeholders, can make decisions with data.

The Conclusion

Data democratization is an important step in the digital transformation process because it empowers everyone to have a more active role in the data that drives their work.   People often understand things better when they can see them firsthand, so it is crucial for organizations to encourage employees from different departments and tiers within an organization to interact with each other and share diverse ideas about information. This democratization enables everyone to gain insights about the company without having to access sensitive information (and helps you avoid costly mistakes).   It is time for organizations to rethink how they manage their data, and who has access to it. Giving everyone equal rights will empower your organization with a more holistic view of its problems. Data democratization is here, so be ready and make the transition!  

Accelerating Data Democratization With Satori

Satori is a natural fit for accelerating data democratization. Satori enables organizations to simplify data access with access controls that can be managed and deployed by data owners, without writing any code (and with no need for data engineering or IT resources). In addition, Satori enables making sensitive data accessible quickly by applying fine-grained access controls like dynamic masking and row-level security in a simplified manner, and evenly across all your data stores. Read here to learn more about what Satori does, or fill out the form below to schedule a demo.
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About the author
|Chief Scientist

Ben is an experienced tech leader and book author with a background in endpoint security, analytics, and application & data security. Ben filled roles such as the CTO of Cynet, and Director of Threat Research at Imperva. Ben is the Chief Scientist for Satori, the DataSecOps platform.

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