Cut through the red tape by empowering citizen data analysts

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Whether you’re stuck in line at the DMV or in limbo getting a project approved, red tape is the enemy of progress — and it plagues enterprise data.  

The growth of enterprise data has overwhelmed IT departments, which face a severe backlog that’s delayed the average company’s IT projects by three months to a year. Employees are stuck waiting on an open IT ticket before they can access vital datasets, making it difficult to reap the benefits of next-generation data analytics.

Enter citizen data analysts: nontechnical business users who can access data, create their own data solutions and use analytics to inform and improve their work. By empowering employees outside the IT department to take ownership of their own data needs, enterprises unlock the full potential of data analytics — without the wait. 

Take a load off IT’s plate

Data touches every part of the modern enterprise, with data volumes projected to grow tenfold by 2025. From sales to finance to HR, every department can employ data to make sound decisions and track goals along the way. In fact, the average company uses five internal applications to support their decision-making — and one out of five uses more than 20. 

Despite recognizing the value of data, however, 86% of businesses aren’t yet prepared to handle more data. 

For many organizations, data governance functions as a bureaucracy. Business users rely on IT teams to handle an assortment of data processes: setting up server databases, managing data warehouses, integrating data into legacy systems and the growing array of cloud-based applications … the list of processes is never-ending. And when the time comes for end-of-quarter reports or updated metrics, IT teams provision access on a case-by-case basis, often building custom one-off integrations to connect platforms. 

As organizations transition to hybrid work models and more data moves to the cloud, technical teams have far too much on their plates. Don’t assume your IT talent is safeguarded from this trend — 97% of data teams are currently at or over capacity and that number likely includes yours. 

Democratizing datasets 

Nontechnical employees don’t need to be experts in configuring multiserver systems — that’s what your IT department is for. But they do benefit from quick, seamless data access that allows individual business users across departments to make data-driven decisions in real time. 

The concept is similar to low-code/no-code tools, which enable citizen developers to create their own digital solutions with minimal IT intervention. Likewise, data-connectivity and integration-technology tools put data into the hands of business users on their own terms — and the opportunities are endless when that occurs. 

Democratized datasets allow business users to access and analyze their data in the moment — enabling teams to make more informed, agile decisions aligned with fast-changing trends and on-the-ground developments. You can’t wait until the next quarterly review to change course. 

For example, a demand-generation team analyzes software downloads to determine when customers are most active, while supply chain analysts track spikes in purchase orders during a busy month to increase manufacturing more rapidly. 

IT still plays a role in these processes, but it no longer involves time-consuming, tedious tasks like replicating massive amounts of data and integrating platforms with the latest version of Salesforce or Paylocity. 

Reduced burden on technical teams allows IT staffers to focus on what they do best: establishing proper business credentials and bolstering data security — ensuring that your technology infrastructure is helping your business instead of hindering it.

How to empower your citizen data analysts 

Opening opportunities for citizen analysts speeds up your operations and unlocks newfound business value. More than two-thirds of organizations say data analytics help them make better strategic decisions, while half say it leads to enhanced operational process control, a better understanding of consumers and cost reductions. 

Are you tired of waiting months or even years to put your data to use? Here are three considerations to empower and support a cadre of citizen data analysts at your organization:

  1. Put IT resources toward access permission

Account executives need access to last week’s sales data, demand generation marketers need the latest campaign metrics, and logistics managers need today’s purchase orders and invoices. 

Only the department working with the data knows what works for that team, so your IT department should focus on setting up the right controls and user permissions to open up data access to lines of business without compromising security. No matter what software or digital solutions your company turns to, this is one area where your IT team is needed. 

Democratizing data access across your organization does not mean opening up the floodgates for anyone to see and manipulate secure data. By setting up the right user credentials within your data ecosystem, IT administrators can empower lines of business to easily work with the data that matters to them, and only that data.

  1. Work with partners to achieve universal connectivity 

Workplace apps have skyrocketed in popularity, with the number of public APIs growing by the thousands annually. Data is not only created in more places today; it also needs to connect with more platforms than ever before. 

If you’re looking to foster cross-departmental collaboration, it doesn’t help if your datasets work with Hubspot but don’t mesh with Salesforce. You want to avoid a scenario in which departments each own a piece of the puzzle, but aren’t able to effectively work together to achieve big-picture goals. 

Fortunately, software solutions on the market can help create universal connections. To find the right data connectivity solution for your organization, prioritize tools that offer seamless and straightforward connections to both your legacy system and cloud platforms. 

  1. Strive for real-time analytics 

Data has an expiration date. By the time enterprise data lands in the right hands by way of IT, the information is often obsolete.

Take advantage of real-time data platforms that move datasets directly from storage to analytics platforms without replicating entire datasets. Real-time connectivity allows business teams to build reports leveraging live data from an ever-expanding catalog of applications. taking on new applications for real-time data. That could entail a logistics team connecting their operations platform to a dashboard in their warehouses to give workers context on real-time inventory and shipment numbers.

Whether it’s the most up-to-date sales figures or minute-by-minute updates on marketing campaigns, real-time analytics provide accurate, timely insight into your business. 

Data has the power to transform your business. But not if it’s waiting on overburdened IT teams to access data results in valuable insights and metrics left to sit in some dark, lonely warehouse instead of being put to use in a sales dashboard or upcoming strategic plan. 

Bypassing the IT jam and equipping all employees with powerful data and analytic solutions opens the door to new insights and innovations across your organization. If given the right tools, citizen data analysts will lead the way. How are you helping them pave the path forward at your business?

Amit Sharma is CEO of CData.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz