Knowledge is power, as the old saying goes, but this relies on the ability to put your company data to work to extract its true value. After all, even relatively small and non-complex organizations generate rich streams of data continuously, whether that’s financial, employee, customer, product or marketing information, there is an endless stream to be sorted and interpreted. Thanks to digital technology, it has never been easier to analyze and turn it into tangible insights and actions for improving business operations and outcomes – provided you can get your hands on it.
Stop hiding the data
The challenge is getting hold of the required data in the first place, as this can be a challenge in itself, requiring teams of technical specialists and software engineers to create automated job flows, storage systems and transformations. A sub-set of these arduous tasks may be required repeatedly to provide a constant feed of information, although by the time it is available to interrogate it could be days, weeks or months old. You can imagine this very quickly becomes an expensive and deeply involving endeavor, that never produces the desired outcome.
Knowledge workers, such as business analysts and department heads, rely heavily on the availability of system and application data to fulfill their roles. Consequently, many of them spend unproductive hours trying to find what they need and then waiting for technical teams to provide it in a usable format. But what if they could self-serve to provide the data they need precisely at the moment they need it? This may sound like manor from heaven but is increasingly becoming not only necessary but realistic, thanks in no small part to data virtualization technology.
What is self-service?
Self-service, when it comes to data operations, is all about empowering data owners and knowledge workers, who may be non-technical, to search and access in real-time all available data via pre-defined API calls. This is the preferred method, rather than making requests to co-workers, who will then need to laboriously mine data from an out-of-date data warehouse. Whether it’s someone in the marketing team who wants instant access to sales statistics across your product portfolio, the HR manager who wants a view of a team’s attendance and hours worked, or a business analyst providing a holistic view of the entire business for the CEO, there are myriad contexts in which members of any organization can benefit from a convenient and comprehensive view of business information.
Deploying a self-service approach liberates the power of collaboration and innovation within an organization. It will stimulate new and exciting ways of working that help technical and non-technical teams to talk the same language. It makes what was once a difficult and complex task a regular and repeatable action, that anyone with the appropriate permissions can execute. It is now rendered an obsolete concept that every data operation is difficult, complex and requires heavy duty technical skills to crack. The black art has now been de-mystified, allowing knowledge workers to run their own queries and match and prep multiple datasets before publishing an API to feed into other applications and share with colleagues. What this means is faster decision making and time to value, with the ultimate benefit of improved financial performance.
We are done with convoluted and costly
A self-service approach all comes down to having the right user interface to enable all stakeholders to find and use the data they need – without going through a convoluted process of sourcing information from across the business and worrying about how up-to-date it is or whether they have missed something.
This, of course, is where SPINR comes in. By offering a data integration platform, capable of connecting to all data sources, we are empowering data owners and all their stakeholders to work collaboratively and effectively. All can now view, manage and harness information in ways that have a tangible impact on business operations. Whether it’s gaining the intelligence necessary to create new products and services, provide better pricing to customers, improve logistics, automate operations or cut expenses, it is an immutable truth that putting your data to work will produce significant value for your business.