Do you own your data?
We all work with a number of applications that produce large amounts of data. But where does this data end up?
What if it is data produced by our own business activities or systems?
Are you sure you own your business data? Or are you just hostages to suppliers, and restless believers in the correctness of "black boxes" and files scattered around your organization?
Each and every organization has to ask these questions today.
Data control in companies
THE FUTURE IS IN THE ACCURACY OF DATA, ITS ANALYSIS AND ABILITY TO WORK WITH TIMELY AND QUALITY DATA.
Unfortunately, the Slovak market is still specific due to the so-called "resting on o´s laurels", where the need to move forward is determined by the willingness to rewrite and manually verify large amounts of information, often provided that "where to hurry when we will anyway encounter a state institution, which will put us in the right direction of enthusiasm.".
Wrong! Whether we believe it or not, the state is evolving too, and this development is accelerating every year. The transition to the government cloud, increasing pressures to make datasets available, the development of applications working over them – this is only a small part of the activities creating a new business environment capable of changing at a dizzying rate. Slovak companies feel that they are not affected by this issue. They leave it to the corporations and banks where it originally started and where, according to them, it still belongs. Wrong! In 2018, we see the first serious threat of ignorance of our data in the form of the GDPR regulation, and more will follow.
So how to keep up with the pace in this area?
New technologies, promoted globally, are launched on the market today on a less than quarterly basis.
Do our companies have the resources/means, capabilities, and especially the will to keep up with them?
I'll start from the end. The will in this area may be distorted but if you do not get it in the IT area (yes, also in the management of your data), it will cause a proper distortion in your business over time. And it really doesn't matter if you run an advertising portal or make bamboo socks.
The skills at this point can still be taken as an excuse for a generational exchange but this does not mean that there is no need to, at least, outsource the know-how in the field. If you allow your employees to significantly influence your pace by their willingness to change the graphic environment, or the progress of work once every 4 – 5 years, it is necessary to immediately think about changing the business activity or the name of the company at the same intervals. It may sound a little cruel, but let's face it: retraining/re-qualification of employees today is neither a question of spending large sums of money nor an inability to understand new technologies. A long time ago we moved from gray-green-blue scarecrows in the form of Norton Commander to user-friendly portals based on intuitive controls, which, after training, are a pleasure for employees to work with.
It is ideal to have a leader in the company, a driver, the only guru who will determine the direction and lead the company to the dream goal. However, it is understandable that if such an individuality does not appear in the company out of the blue, not everyone can risk and put trust in a new face through direct recruitment.
For this purpose, we have companies that deal directly with the issue and have expert knowledge – and our company is one of them. Based on the proposed solution, the healing process is started and the acquisition of the necessary knowledge from this cooperation in the coming years, which many times saves more resources.
Let’s go back to means/resources. Piles and heaps – this is roughly the amount of useful software, essential technology, hard agenda, and operating systems, and unnecessary applications that are needed in a successful company today.
Most companies ask the following question: Is it necessary to connect the data from applications to the existing, old, and new systems, or just prepare it for planned agenda or operational systems? Yes, it is!
A lone non-interconnected system in the middle of nowhere is about as needed today as a moisture meter at the bottom of a lake – it may seem interesting but the benefits are almost nil because its agenda is probably performed by zillion other systems in the right place and with more correct data.
Data consolidation can open the door not only to improve the overall view of data but also to locate systems that only need to be unplugged and stop unnecessary bleeding in the form of unnecessary expenses.
Now I’m getting to what I mentioned at the beginning – Data Management was once a discipline of multinational companies, corporate elements, and banking moguls as the sole owners of a sufficient amount of data. The situation is currently changing – it is just the diversity of applications and systems that creates a large number of separate sources of data. Your data, useful and especially expensive data throughout the company!
In the vast majority of cases, the data quality is directly proportional to the quality of the applications or systems in which the data is created. And what is even more dangerous is that it is proportional to the capabilities of the user who enters it into the application. Now I'm not trying to offend weekend Excel users with merged cells :), I want to appeal to companies with high staff turnover, whose agenda (however easy to train it may be) always suffers from being poor quality every time employees or processes are changed.
So, quality is one thing, now just think of how to interconnect an endless and ever-evolving number of applications and systems, each of which is playing in its own sandpit. Because, after all, we use applications that have a good idea. A good idea today equals a fast fermenting start-up, and every good start-up has the ambition to be the only snowflake on the market (honoring exceptions that promote openness from the ground up). Despite all the malice of the previous sentence, today's products have one thing in common. Their data goes from point A to point B. And exactly point B is the area that interests us in terms of resources! Because point B comprises data storage, databases, datasets, whether on the disk of your server, company laptop, or somewhere in the cloud, where your application stores data with or without your knowledge.
Win! I got to the resources that create the imaginary butterfly net which allows us to capture all sources of data, prepare and consolidate it into a beautifully arranged collection on the wall, which we do not have to be ashamed of in front of other collectors.
These resources/means are tools for Data Integration, Data Quality, and Data Management merged under Data Governance.
If a company has not established and set a basic Data Governance policy, it is often just a slave to its suppliers of partial systems and applications scattered around the organization where every change costs something (usually not little).
And we are getting to our point: Do you really own your data? Can you combine the data from each of your systems, each application, and use it to create another business? Can you do this every time you connect a new system? Or is any change or a new idea of consolidating data into new outputs only possible if you invite key vendors to a round table to determine the price for the new integration and share who charges how much for that change?
Unfortunately, this is how these situations often end: the request to change, connect to an incompatible system, upload data in one direction or another, or (God forbid!) clean it – all these actions often generate new and regular costs for specialized modification of functionality, which is significant, especially with hardcoding systems and developments.
How can we help?
There are several companies offering data management, as well as managing and processing data in one direction or another, mostly under corporate brands that, despite the modern policy of openness and interoperability in all directions, still remain "introverted".
MIM is one of the still small but growing sets of companies in Slovakia that deal with the issue from the bottom up. Our strength and added value are in the process focus, which means that we do not just deliver a raw implementation of a monolithic platform. We try to integrate it into the processes in the organization so that it is possible to get the most out of it, and guarantee continuous growth with the development and innovation of all technologies on the market.
The Talend platform which we apply in our solutions has the ambition to interconnect the systems of all suppliers, not to be just one and only supplier. Therefore, we also offer consulting and development. In a nutshell, we offer help with setting up all processes so that the customer gains the greatest possible freedom and control over their own data. We can train companies so that they can manage the set data management system independently, and also manage their suppliers, so that they become the only masters over their own data.
In conclusion, I would like to summarize that managing one's own data and data sources is no longer the prerogative of corporations but the duty of every company that wants to stay connected to the world around it, wants to have an overview of what it owns, where its data is, how to get to it and how to use it for the development of its business.
Author: Ivan Stríček