Driven by stay-at-home orders and the continued risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the business world shifted to working remotely almost overnight. We immediately focused on ensuring employees had the virtual meeting and collaboration technologies needed to work remotely. With that in place, now is the time to focus on enabling remote data workers with technology, resources, and processes so they can provide the insights necessary to lead you through these uncertain economic conditions.
Enable Self Service
Long a goal of data and analytics initiatives, self-service is now essential for providing your data workers with the data and insights they need. Your IT and development teams are likely overwhelmed. By the time they can get to curating a dataset, writing a query, or developing a report, the original need for the data has likely passed or changed.
Here are some things you can do to enable or improve self-service in your organization:
Implement tools that align with the skills and preferences of your data workers. For example, don’t provide tools that are dependent on Python skills if you have SQL skills in abundance.
Publish curated and approved datasets whenever possible to shortcut the time needed to wrangle, cleanse, and organize data. To start, get guidance from your data governance organization on key data domains or areas of highest demand.
Create more training and reference material as resources for your data workers. Specifically, build a knowledge base by implementing a data catalog or data marketplace concept; this will save time finding needed data.
Provide reporting and dashboarding templates, as well as style guides, to accelerate analysis and visualization efforts. This will also improve the consistency of the user experience.
If data is needed now more than ever, the risk of misusing data is also higher than ever. Like any risk management process, a flexible data governance capability in your organization will help reduce the risk of data misuse and increase the potential value of your data. During these times, consider these things especially when it comes to data governance.
Start your data governance journey now, if you haven’t already.
Provide tools and communications support for your data stewards to elevate them as key resources for data workers.
Increase your focus and investment in data quality and cleansing. With a remote workforce, major data quality issues can more easily arise.
Be inclusive in your data governance proceedings. In particular, involve more business leaders to reinforce the importance of data governance.
Reinforce Infrastructure and Technology
Corporate systems, tools, and infrastructure are all bending from the increased stress of a remote workforce. Now is an optimal time to consider the investment you can make to scale your data and analytics technology stack using the current strains as a proving ground.
Leverage cloud technologies for your data and analytics architecture. A good place to start is with visualization and analysis tools: major vendors like Tableau, PowerBI, and QlikSense provide straightforward paths for implementation or migration from on-premise.
Refresh your security and access policies for all technologies in your data and analytics architecture. If policies don’t exist, partner with your data governance organization to define them.
Remove the complexity and quirkiness of remote access to data and analytics technologies. For example, virtual private networks (VPN) throw a wrench in the best-laid plans of data workers.
Data workers can provide critical insights needed to navigate these opaque and challenging economic conditions. Now is the time to remove barriers from their day-to-day and truly enable your data workers to lead you through the storm.
Ian Foley co-leads RevGen’s Analytics and Insights practice. He is passionate about enabling his client’s success in their data journey.
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