data analytics


Automated data warehousing divides data control between IT and business groups

When it comes to data usage, smart public- and private-sector organizations are taking a cue from the nations’ founding fathers and structuring hierarchy, control and autonomy in their data’s governance. The country’s first leaders divided power between the federal government and the individual states, with the federal government focusing on big-picture management of infrastructure and law enforcement and the states making many of their own decisions.

Today’s data warehousing solutions apply that same concept to enterprise data usage, dividing power and control between an organization’s IT group (in this analogy, playing the role of the federal government) and an agency’s business groups (the individual states). When implemented correctly, the approach allows individual groups to get and manage the data they need, when they need it, to become self-sustaining -- while not disconnecting from IT.

This concept isn’t a new one, but enterprises that tried to adopt it in the past hit a hurdle fairly quickly: They found that data warehouses were gigantic undertakings that needed to be created and maintained by IT departments, which had the specialized skills and tools to get them up and running and keep them operating smoothly. IT departments were soon barraged with requests from business units that were unable to manage the data they needed on their own. Bottlenecks occurred, work slowed and frustration increased.

Today, reporting packages with some minor integrated data management capabilities – from Microstrategy, Tableau and others -- have empowered users, allowing them to access some of the data they need. But departments continue to experience challenges when creating a united set of business data processes. 

That’s where today’s data warehouse automation tools come in, serving as the missing link between “federalized” data and the needs of the “states.” The development of ETL code is often the largest bottleneck, and data warehouse automation tools have been specifically architected to directly address these extract, transform and load tasks. Using the latest technology, ETL development is now much easier, empowering business groups to handle the data they need.

Today, each operational area, from citizen services to finance to human resources, can be given its own schema, which is secure from other departments. At the same time, these distinct schemas can be combined to form the enterprise’s data warehouse. Think about it: Data can now be shared seamlessly among departments when it makes sense. Human resources, for instance, can share its employee list with users in other departments, and control who can access it. Finance can manage and share budget data – but only with the users or departments that need it. The new data warehousing technology gets data into the hands of the people who need much faster and more efficiently than previous methods.

And the IT team is no longer bogged down by managing individual departments’ specialized data usage and sharing. In true federal fashion, IT can focus its attention on establishing and enforcing overarching “laws” around data governance, overseeing data integration and usage, managing infrastructure and curating some core data sources.

While there’s still room for improvement, the latest iteration of data warehousing empowers both departments and the enterprise. Data warehousing is not only off life support, the innovative technology at its core has revitalized its relevance for the way organizations work. It allows every aspect of a group to work together in a way that strengthens both individual pieces and the entire organization, creating something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. And isn’t that what the founding fathers had in mind all along?

About the Author

Dan Bruns is the founder and president of Pyramart.


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