Democratizing Data - What It Means, Why It Matters, and How to Achieve It

July 7, 2023
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Alexander Alten
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Summary: The Power of Data Democratization

In today's data-driven world, data democratization is crucial for driving innovation and growth. That involves making data accessible and understandable to everyone, breaking barriers like technical definitions, data silos and complex data tools. Data democratization gives users access to relevant data, tools, and resources in an easy and understandable way. Empowering employees and users with “data as a product” allows companies to make better decisions and improve their performance and profitability. By addressing the most pressing data challenges, be they data silos, fragmentation, or the need for effective tools and platforms, organizations can unlock the full potential of their data assets and drive digitalization to improve their own outcomes.

Understanding the Concept of Democratizing Data

When you search for “what is the democratization of data” the first non-sponsored hit is “in a business sense, data democratization is the practice of providing data access to everyone in an organization”. As this describes the largest pillar of data democratization, it’s not the whole picture.

Data democratization means more than just making all data accessible and understandable to everyone in your organization. The wake of AI accelerates the need for democratization, it’s not only to make data accessible, it also means that users have to have the possibility to access data with the tools they like. Companies have to implement a living data culture for everyone in their organization, not only for just a select few ones with technical expertise. 

Once a data culture is set and in place, the cultural shift empowers individuals and organizations to make informed decisions based on the most accurate and relevant data, and in every decision or business relevant interaction afterwards.

The goal of data democratization is to remove barriers that block employees from accessing and using data, such as technical or complex, error-prone tools and technologies. Anyone can now access and analyze enormous amounts of data without specialist expertise, utilizing data from almost all data sources, regardless of their structure, thanks to user-friendly interfaces and intuitive tools like Blossom Sky.

But why should modern organizations adopt a democratization of data?

In simple terms, it enables better, data-driven decision-making, enhanced transparency and increased data collaboration, which leads to more innovation, better products, and therefore better and more sustainable revenue. And when more and more organizations embrace this concept, we can expect to see a more equitable distribution of knowledge and resources in our business world, which also leads to more innovative ideas.

Data democratization is an ongoing process in every modern organization. Enabling employees, regardless of technical knowledge, to work comfortably with data, feel confident talking about it, and, as a result, make data-informed choices, enable data-powered customer experiences, support decisions, and steer operative outcomes.

Everyone, regardless of seniority, must have access to data and tools to evaluate their ideas and intuitions. Rapid innovation and massive benefits become attainable at scale with the proven priority of data and wide empowerment to test early, frequently, and with the right to fail these tests. But this failing has to be fast, to rapidly test other ideas. Rising stars accomplish this without burdensome layers of bureaucracy and politics.

Data democratization exists to address data issues!

Data is power in the world of today. It influences our daily lives, shapes regulations, and drives decision-making. However, data access is not always fair. It is frequently concentrated in the hands of a few individuals or organizations with the resources to gather and analyze it.

Data democratization involves making it available to everyone, regardless of background or resources. It involves removing barriers that prevent people from being able to utilize data to their own advantage. This involves making government data available to the public, requiring firms to be honest about their data practices, and giving consumers control over their own personal information.

Why should you invest in democratizing data? 

As we rely more and more on technology and digital platforms to exchange information, independent access to data becomes even more important. Despite the increased availability and velocity of data and methods for analyzing it, many companies continue to experience challenges in using data to their own advantage. 95% of all enterprises cite challenges with unstructured data and increasing data velocity as the main problems in accessing the benefits of AI. To unlock the full potential of data assets and achieve real business outcomes, organizations have to identify roadblocks in their data strategy and find and execute effective and intuitive ways to solve them. 

Did you know that five points always come up when asking users how they work with data in their company?

  • I don’t have access to the data I need to get my job done
  • I don’t trust the data from XYZ; that always seems odd to me
  • How do I find the answer to the question I have, and how do I interpret that?
  • The analytics tools we have are made for geeks, not product owners
  • When I have questions, I mostly don’t get any answers because everyone is busy solving their own challenges

With Blossom Sky, companies and organizations can easily address those challenges - mostly data silos and fragmentation issues - and solve the lack of standards and interoperability among different systems or platforms in a non-technical and empowering way. That’s why we call our stack the Open Virtual Data Lakehouse. We enable data democratization across multiple data silos, departments, and even organizations without exposing private data or IP in an easy, intuitive, and open way.

At its heart, data democratization is about addressing the data difficulties that people encounter on a daily basis. And, because of the rapid pace at which the data environment and people's demands change, even the greatest data teams struggle to satisfy the expectations of several teams.

How do you encourage employees to ask data-related questions?

By making data literacy a given in your organization. Data literacy should no longer be considered a luxury. Everyone should have access to the items they require to become as data-literate as they choose. For some, knowing what data the company collects and how it appears may be sufficient. Others may find it useful to investigate why certain data is monitored, how it is done, where the information is stored, and in what format.

In summary, data literacy addresses one of the most significant hurdles to data democratization: access to data.

Access to data, but what data and where?

To identify data access problems, there are some things to consider. As an example, when someone says they don't have access to data, they could refer to the original information in a spreadsheet, data that has been transformed in a data warehouse, data in the form of visualizations, product usage data within a product analytics tool, transactional data within a paid data analysis tool, demographic data within a customer engagement tool, marketing campaign data within a customer data platform, and so on. 

When someone can define where they want to look at what data, granting access becomes much easier. Furthermore, if a person is provided access to the correct data with the right tools at the right time, they are considerably more inclined to put their trust in that data.

The next time someone complains about not having access to data and is unable to describe where they want access to what data, it is highly possible there is a data literacy problem to fix.

Different and multiple levels of data literacy

It is clear that data literacy is more than just understanding how to execute queries using Excel or analyze more complex data.

Every team needs data in order to complete daily duties or examine the impact of their work. On the other hand, distinct teams with distinct data demands necessitate various levels of data literacy. Implementing data tracking, extracting insights from data, and acting on those insights all require quite different abilities. Furthermore, performing on those insights and launching Blossom Sky to build a data pipeline involves a different skill set than identifying the correct targets to go after by looking at the same data inside a data warehouse.

Building predictive models and delivering tailored experiences in real-time, on the other hand, rely on various sorts of data and require distinct talents. The former demands data science training, whereas the other is a data engineering challenge.

It is logical to draw the conclusion that data literacy, in some form or another, has become a must for people to thrive at their jobs. Companies that invest in making data literacy accessible to their staff members will undoubtedly outperform their competition. The next principle in the data democratization journey is to empower everyone to work with data by investing in the tools that allow them to do so and that they like!

The Role of AI-powered Virtual Data Lakehouses

The rise of AI-powered tools and models forces companies to collect, analyze, and interpret vast amounts of data in ways that were previously impossible. The virtual data lakehouse (data lakehouse federation) has created a significant opportunity to democratize access to data and make it available for everyone's benefit. By leveraging AI, users of Blossom Sky can now use data-driven insights to make informed business decisions, improve outcomes, and even address complex global issues such as climate change. In this section, we will explore the role of a virtual data lakehouse with Blossom Sky in democratizing data and how we help transform various industries for the better. 

AI-powered tools such as natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and predictive analytics can help make sense out of vast amounts of data while keeping it accessible for everyone. But they also need access to data, mostly internal data, to generate useful insights and help organizations excel in their space. Even though companies are looking to streamline their infrastructure, moving data platforms is quite hard, and the majority of businesses cite the need to manage unstructured data as the biggest problem to keep up with digital transformation projects for their business.

And this leads to the challenge of data access since some parts of the data can’t be centralized in clouds or large data silos. And this is when a virtual data lakehouse comes in. A virtual data lakehouse, like Blossom Sky, enables federated data access across all available data pools without moving data to a centralized solution. Blossom Sky is an AI powered Virtual Data Lakehouse, that includes cost-optimization for data processing across multiple vendors while at the same time providing easy access to all data in an understandable way. Blossom Sky enables data democratization without burning budgets in an open, collaborative way.

The Future Of Democratized Data: Trends To Watch Out For In The Coming Years

The democratization of data has become increasingly important in recent years, more and more organizations using data as an asset to gain access to valuable information. There are several trends that we should keep an eye on in the world of democratized data. One is the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will enable organizations to analyze and interpret data at an unprecedented scale. Another trend is the increasing importance of privacy and security as more sensitive information becomes available, which also increases the hunger to use them, be it for prompt engineering, building customized offers or services, or selling products more efficiently.

Additionally, we will see a shift towards decentralized data storage and management systems, powered by billions of sensors in IoT, medical devices, smart watches and smart phones, allowing for greater control over personal data. Last but not least, as data becomes even more widely accessible, there will be a growing need for effective tools and platforms to manage and make sense of it all.

Overall, these trends have significant implications for how we collect, analyze, and utilize data in the years ahead. By staying informed about these developments, businesses can stay ahead of the curve when it comes to leveraging democratized data for their own success. New technologies such as federation-based data platforms are emerging and provide secure access to data across multiple data pools while maintaining transparency and data privacy.

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