Self-Service and Data Governance Empowers LOB Users

There is a major transformation underway in the use of data centric tools within the enterprise. When it comes to working with solutions for data integration, data preparation, data analysis and Business Intelligence (BI), the emphasis is shifting from IT to line of business (LOB) users. 

This is a natural evolution.  LOBs today have to deal quickly and efficiently with constantly increasing amounts of data generated by multiple, digitized sources such as social media and the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s a situation that requires a collaborative relationship with IT as LOBs become more involved in data processing to rapidly obtain the trusted, updated data they need to facilitate decision making. 

Error ridden, unstructured data can have an immediate negative impact on business processes.  For example, customers dealing with a call center with inadequate or faulty customer tracking may have to restate their issue every time they call in to resolve a problem – a major annoyance. Or a corporate marketing department may optimistically launch a major campaign only to realize poor results due to relying on a database riddled with errors and omissions.  According to Gartner’s analyst Ted Friedman, organizations estimate losing on average $8.9 million per year due to those kinds of data quality issues.

However, even though business users want to be more involved in data-centric activities, they may be spending 70 to 80% of their time preparing data without any assurance the quality will be high or that governance risks such as privacy and compliance issues are being addressed. 

LOB users are partly responsible.  Data analysis tends to be an “individual sport” in which users often create their own version of the original data. It’s understandable that increasingly data driven LOBs want to participate in processing data relative to their business unit.  However, they must be accountable for the data they manage so that it can become a valuable asset for all parts of the organization, including IT. 

Consider the marketing department mentioned above which has created a web form on its website to capture leads for a new campaign. If the data input is not properly controlled, the campaign will introduce poor data into the CRM system including junk emails, invalid phone numbers, duplicate records, etc. This could finally impact the whole organization, not just marketing specific activities such as outbound campaigns. Think about a shipping notice or a response to a claim that could end-up as undeliverable mail.

A Collaborative Solution

For today’s organizations the solution is to transfer some data processing responsibilities to the LOB while allowing IT (or other cross functional organizations, such as the Office of Chief Data Officer that we see in some data-driven organizations) to keep control over the various processes involved. This is in line with the trends we have observed – a need from more autonomy on the part of the users, driving the use of self-service tools for data analysis, data preparation and data integration. However, this move to self-service can result in chaos if not accompanied by appropriate controls.

Data governance provides those controls – it not only allows the LOB to access the data but also ensures its quality and accuracy. Talend provides data governance capabilities to business users through the data stewardship features in Master Data Management solution.  And we are now creating a full vision of an LOB self service capability for our business customers that will allow them to cleanse, prepare and integrate data for their own analytical needs or from a file to an application or between applications.

Self-service also can empower LOBs to deal with data at an operational level. In that respect, a key part of the Talend solution is the Talend Integration Cloud, which allows “citizen integrators” – advanced users familiar with the underlying IT landscape such as  SaaS or commonly used on-premises business applications – to integrate data on an ad hoc basis or to collaborate with IT to create enterprise ready integration scenarios. 

Talend Integration Cloud is a secure cloud integration platform featuring powerful graphical tools and prebuilt components and connectors that make it simple to enrich and share data.  This makes data integration projects feasible for LOB users to tackle and therefore frees up IT for other, more strategic tasks. And it makes data Integration a team game between Lines of Business and IT, rather than a source of conflict.

Coming in the very near future based on a similar mindset is Talend Data Preparation, a self-service solution for business analysts, which will enable them to prepare data for analysis or any other data integration or stewardship tasks.  Data Preparation is being designed not only as a productivity tool for the LOB user, but as a collaborative tool that allows an organization to share most of its data assets.  The flexibility of this new solution will enable an organization to strike the right balance between LOB autonomy and IT control depending on the sensitivity of data involved, the organization’s culture, and the role that IT plays within the enterprise.

Benefits of a New Collaborative Approach

By recognizing the shift to LOB involvement in an organization’s data centric activities, the entire enterprise will realize numerous benefits:

- LOBs save time and increase productivity with easier sharing of information and a more comprehensive view of essential data

- Marketing organizations improve their campaigns through better targeting of customers (and more generally, lines of business can more successfully meet their operational objectives through a better use of their data assets)

- The enterprise gets better control over data including data security (such as avoiding major break-ins like the recent Sony/WikiLeaks hack – a company’s worst data nightmare mostly caused by uncontrolled copies of very sensitive data such as employees’ salaries and social security numbers)

- With LOBs controlling Big Data governance applications, the business users have the ability to use reliable, timely data for driving a competitive advantage.

Talend unified platform is Talend’s integrated solution for all the technical challenges of data governance, data integration and preparation together with data curation and stewardship.  This is an easy to use, unified data management platform with more than 1000 built-in connectors and components that make it easy to incorporate nearly any type of data source into your governance process.

With these capabilities in place, data quality has the potential to move from its traditional back office role to a far more proactive practice that can address quality issues before they even occur, and finally turn data into a day-to-day operational outcome across the lines of business. And, this approach is ushering in a new era of proactive, data aware LOB users who can work in close collaboration with their IT counterparts.

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