The notion of not equipping your team with the best and latest tools to do their job, to the best of their ability, is plainly absurd.
Why would anybody do that? It’s a central tenet of digital transformation.
Likewise, the notion of having vast amounts of data bursting into your organization every day, and then not making the best use of it to understand your customers better and drive smarter decisions is equally laughable.
Why would you do that? Why run at half speed when you can stick to the fast track?
Optimum performance and growth, competitive advantage and customer satisfaction, efficiency, and productivity are all key goals in the modern workplace; a hub–no longer necessarily a fixed physical location—driven by collaboration, and supported by cutting-edge digital technologies that get sharper every day.
Data is Power
Collaboration feeds innovation. It’s about the power of talented people. Talent craves information and inspiration, insights and intelligence. Data provides these essential ingredients to success.
It follows that giving more of the right people easier access to more of the right data will bring more benefits to the organization. That’s the essence of Data Democratization; power to your people.
The practicalities of delivering this power have become more complicated as the traditional manifestation of a workplace has morphed so much in recent years. Following the virtually global shift out of the office premises and into the home–so critical in containing the spread of Covid–there was no counter-surge back to how things had been.
The hybrid office changed the shape of the workplace and, in so doing, changed the nature of work. Both continue to morph. The challenge for organizations today is to give shape and structure where none exists, at least not in the physical sense. The World Economic Forum describes the hybrid office as a “smorgasbord of collaboration–planned and spontaneous, open and private, from one to one to the whole office, internal and client, face to face and with remote staff, for mentoring, brainstorming, presentations and training.”
The modern workplace is now the natural habitat of the modern workforce; often misinterpreted as Millennials, or Gen Y, or Gen Z. While there may be a young skew to how it’s made up, the modern workforce is anybody and everybody. Already, using the word ‘modern’ sounds a bit old-fashioned. It is what it is, and we are where we are.
Where we are is in a world where data is continuously created. The thing about data is that none of it is useless. The magic about data is that while the nature of the workplace may present complications, the nature of making data available for the right purposes (ensuring robust data governance) is more straightforward than ever.
Data Democratization is simply about making sure that these two constantly evolving worlds–of data and the ‘workplace’--are connected properly; checks and balances, compliance, and the nurturing of a data-first (or data-driven, the same thing) culture.
Three Reasons why Data Democratization is Important in the Modern Workplace
You’ve probably been doing it all along so why hold back?
You cannot possibly be anywhere along a digital transformation journey if you have not yet looked at how to collect, store, classify, analyze, and even present your data. Digital transformation without a data strand to it is just a whole bunch of software. It’s like a car with every conceivable engineering advantage but no steering wheel. Throaty revs but no direction.
So, something has been done, but has everything been done? Are there still silos of information in your business? Departments that run almost as independent states? Data duplication? Fear of using data amongst users? Hesitation to spread permissions too broadly? Or perhaps feeling that the value you extract from your data is leagues ahead of where it was a few years ago so no need to go further (even though you may be missing out on sizable percentage chunks of value and thereby underutilizing a valuable business asset)?
Formalizing your approach will unbottle your innovation
You can’t let data run riot. Data protection/privacy laws and regulations exist to protect people, and we are all only too well aware of the flip side of not doing that. This is the caveat that must frame any data initiative. But you can extract greater value from data, more often, as a core ingredient of innovation if your people know where to find it, and why they need to.
This involves looking closely at the working culture that prevails within your organization to make sure it truly is data-driven, data-first and data-smart. Identify which job roles should be intimately intertwined with data, that the structure of your permissions policies and protocols (authorized users) align to these requirements and you’ll see the change. It’s like uncorking a bottle of champagne–the ideas will flow.
Improve performance and outcomes
Do these myriad benefits all flow from data? Of course they don’t. Does the more data you accumulate automatically enrich the knowledge and insights your team can grow and achieve with? No. Does digital transformation take your operations to a higher level? Aha, now that’s a tricky one–it can and it will but only if viewed through a lens of Data Democratization. Data left alone–safe, protected and compliant though it may be–is like champagne left in the bottle; nobody’s going to enjoy it.
Yet within that data, ideas are softly effervescing. Insights are lying dormant. Opportunities are being missed. Improvements to performance and outcomes may be taking place anyway since such is the nature and driving force of business, but their pace will be restrained even though you may not know it.
Data Democratization enables you to shake upshake-up the insights, seize the opportunities, and move forward faster. Get that party going on.