All day every day enterprises are dealing with overwhelming amounts of data. The dream to improve business performance from actionable insights moves farther and farther away as teams tread water in this sea of data rather than expertly navigating it.

The desire and demand for the democratization of data seem to grow by the hour. As usual, there is no easy button. Through all of this data chaos, it’s important to pause and understand what it will take to make positive changes happen at your organization.

We hear people talking about it all the time, but what does data democratization really mean? And, rather than wishing and hoping for data democratization, how can your enterprise actually achieve it?

Let’s figure this one out together. (Hint: You’re gonna need Power BI.)

What Is Data Democratization?

A quick search on Google on “What is data democratization?” gives tons of different results that talk about “access to data” as the main component of data democratization.

However, providing data access—whether in the form of raw data in a data infrastructure or as intuitive visualizations in a business intelligence tool like Power BI—doesn’t quite cover the complete definition of democratizing data.

Data democratization is a process of making data accessible to everyone in the organization, irrespective of their technical knowledge, without involvement from the IT department. It allows non-technical users to:

  • Own data
  • Extract value from data
  • Leverage data to make timely, insightful decisions
  • Uncover gaps and opportunities

A best practice-oriented strategy for the implementation of data democratization requires mapping out all the different components that work together to actualize success. It involves a strong combination of people (i.e. leadership, champions, admins), processes (i.e. strategy, implementation, support), and platforms (i.e. Power BI).

Why Is Data Democratization Important?

Data is essential for any organization looking to gain a competitive advantage and achieve continuous growth. Data enables your enterprise to identify potentially profitable areas you may have been missing, resolve organizational inconsistencies, decrease time and resource costs, and make more informed decisions.

The more people you have with diverse expertise and the ability to access data easily and quickly, the faster it will be for your organization to identify and take action on critical business insights.

Data democratization is seen as a game-changer in our incredibly fast-paced business world as it makes it simpler for various business units to get access to the insights they need to make data-driven decisions. This leads to improved data literacy and the eventual establishment of a data culture.

Democratizing data also protects the enterprise from becoming a top-down entity where the opinion of the top-level tier always wins. Individuals are given more ownership and responsibility to use the data the way they want, which increases adoption, and ultimately, produces better business outcomes.

What is the Goal of Data Democratization?

The goal of data democratization is to allow anybody—including those with little to no technical prowess—to access, use, and analyze data anytime to make decisions with no barrier to access.

Everyone has access to data and there are no gatekeepers that may hinder the average end user from accessing the data. The democratization of data translates to more agile teams that are able to make efficient and impactful decisions and stay several steps ahead of industry competitors who are not as data-savvy.

How Do You Democratize Data?

If your organization isn’t already providing an accurate view of data to everyone, you don’t have to wait to start making incremental changes. A lot can be accomplished with the help of a few tools and delivery methods.

Here are a few ways you can democratize data across your organization:

1. Ensure tools and processes are as simple as possible.

As an organization grows, so does the volume, velocity, and variety of incoming data and the challenges associated with managing it. Taking this into consideration, wouldn’t it be great if you had a simple way to search across all your data sources and find the relevant information you need painlessly?

Build simple processes and choose data analytics ecosystems that provide all users a holistic view of information assets. Teams should have useful visualizations and reports, ongoing training and support, and secure access to a single source of truth. Everyone should feel confident about the trustworthiness and relevance of the data.

2. Allow gradual data accessibility and usability.

The roadmap to data democratization involves moving past the traditional approaches of siloing data. During this process, leaders sometimes make the mistake of trying to build too much anticipation towards a grand unveiling. However, changing everything overnight can be harmful to the enterprise.

Instead, allow gradual data accessibility and let the team understand and incorporate data into existing processes steadily. Narrow but trustworthy windows that provide useful insights into specific business functions are better than expansive views that may lead to subjective interpretations.

We like to say that change management is the other half of an enterprise data strategy. Often overlooked, change management is absolutely key when implementing new complex processes like data democratization.

3. Make everything accessible but govern everything too.

For decades, data has been owned and managed by the IT department who acts as the gatekeepers of data. This siloed ownership has resulted in a data management process that is slow, frictional, and highly IT-reliant.

Freeing up data access by taking a deeper approach to data management and governance means that every individual—from developers to the end-user with limited technical know-how—understands the data, works to improve data quality, and uses actionable insights.

Rather than us going on and on about the critical importance of data governance, we’ll point you in the direction of several related resources that go into more detail.

Enable the Democratization of Data with Power BI

It’s not enough to simply give people access to data. To make the best out of data democratization, the information must be easy to find, retrieve, and understand. That rule especially applies when you are using Power BI.

Power BI helps enterprises deliver on these requirements by providing an integrated system where users view and access visual data in a matter of minutes, allowing them to customize, analyze and visualize data with easy-to-use data governance tools and innovative technology to yield insights in a way that positively impacts the business.

Powered by AI, big data analytics, and machine learning, Power BI transforms unstructured data into visually pleasing charts, reports, and dashboards that are easy to understand for the end-users. To further support data democratization, self-service Power BI capabilities also include centralized data models so users access real-time data.

When your people, process, and platform band together, you achieve data democratization over time. A tool like Power BI is an essential piece here, but like any tool, you need to know how to use it. Which is why we recommend seeking support from Power BI experts to kickstart your data democratization journey.

A great place to start is our Power BI Visioning Program, one of our most popular strategic enterprise programs. If you have any questions, the Collectiv team is here to hop on a quick call as well…contact us here.