Guide: DataOps

Data Accessibility: Definition and Best Practices

Having proper access to data is highly crucial to the success of any business. When you have accessible information, you can accelerate your business workflows, focus on better production of your products, and also build a stronger data pipeline that can lead to valuable and actionable insights.

Data accessibility bridges the gap between having data and being able to use it, which is where most businesses fall short. If you are a data analyst or data manager, you can optimize your organization’s data accessibility with some best practices. This article covers:

This is part of our complete DataOps guide.

What is Data Accessibility?

Organizations have a myriad of data that they collect from the moment the company is formed, and some of it even predates the company’s formation. This data is stored on physical or cloud-based servers, and structured in thousands of folders, formats, and data types. Although the data is available, it might not always be accessible for use within the company.

This is where data accessibility comes in. It refers to the degree to which your employees can use data. It is a process that makes the available data suitable for use, regardless of how much experience or expertise a particular employee has. However, since data exists in different formats and data types, it can be quite challenging to make it entirely accessible, since it won’t be of much use in its current state.

Therefore, the data in question has to be cleansed, reformatted, and standardized before it can be integrated with existing business data and made ready for use within the organization. Since data continues to mount day after day, data accessibility is an ongoing process that you need to perform if you want to continue to make data-driven decisions.

What is Data Democratization?

Data democratization deals with the idea that every person in the company has unequivocal access to the data, and there are no protocols that can cause hurdles or block their path to data access. Moreover, it states that companies should complement data access with a simple and comprehensive method to help people understand the data, so that they can derive potential from it, and also use it to make impactful and far-reaching decisions.

Generally, organizational data is in the hands of IT departments, which means that they completely own and control it. Several departments, including business development, marketing, and executives, use the data for decision-making, but they have to go through the IT department in order to gain access to the data. This has been the standard practice for the past few decades, and not many people see a problem in this structure.

However, people who advocate data democratization argue that it is important to distribute data across all of the teams and stakeholders that are involved in the process. By extending data access to employees with more experience and expertise, organizations will be able to generate valuable business insights and also make informed decisions. 

Moreover, these people also believe that data access can empower employees at all access levels, and enable them to make better decisions.

Read more in our dedicated data democratization guide.

Data Accessibility Best Practices

There are several methods and strategies that organizations use in order to make data accessible across the board, and since there is a massive amount of data, distributing it across all employees is also quite important. Here is a set of best practices that most companies make use of.

Develop a Data Management Strategy

Data management goes hand in hand with data accessibility, and the data manager within the organization should be responsible for designing policies and protocols that can be implemented in order to maintain integrity and access to the data.

Read more in our dedicated data management guide.

Break Down Data Silos

When you don’t have data, you can’t expect to receive valuable insights. This usually happens when data is classified between teams, thus causing data silos to form. However, when you talk about data accessibility and democratization, these silos need to be removed for the smooth flow of data within the organization.

Implement Access Controls

Some people equate data accessibility with a lack of data security, but that shouldn’t be the case. Although it is very important to make data accessible, it is even more crucial that the data is secure and its integrity is maintained. Therefore, you should develop and put access controls in place, so that the data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Read more about access controls in our dedicated access control guide.

Increase Accessibility for Analytics

Data is certainly valuable, but what’s more valuable is the insights and analytics that are generated from it. This is why they should also be made accessible between employees and the involved teams, so that every individual is able to justify their decisions and actions based on data, rather than having to consult a data analyst.

Make Date Comprehensible

Last but not least, you can derive as many insights from the data as you want, but unless your employees really understand how data is structured, optimized, and used, they won’t be entirely productive to the organization. Therefore, you should focus on making data literacy across the organization, complemented with training and recruitment programs.

Challenges in Data Accessibility

Although data accessibility is a promising idea, there are several challenges that companies must navigate around to gain more visibility and make better decisions.

Differences in Data Formats

Within an organizational system, you have all kinds and formats of data, which means that bringing them into a single and comprehensive format can be a complex challenge. The best way to work around this is to develop a unified data format, or formats, across the company, so that all data is usable.

Lack of Access to Existing Data

There is a huge repository of data in every company, but it isn’t entirely accessible. In most organizations, the IT department has a stronghold over the entire data, which means that other units of the business aren’t aware of what kind of data they have at their disposal.

Lack of Metadata

Lastly, the lack of metadata also makes it quite difficult to use business data for driving valuable insights. Therefore, employees aren’t sure of how they can use the data to optimize their operations or processes. This can be curbed by providing access to data repositories, and also increasing the use and integration of data.

Summary

This concludes our guide on data accessibility and how it can be used to make better business decisions. One thing to remember is that your organization might have a huge amount of data available, but unless it is cleansed, reformatted, and made accessible, you won’t be able to unearth the full potential of your business.

Better Data Accessibility With Satori

Satori, The DataSecOps platform, makes sure access to data in your company is simple and secure at scale, and without disrupting the business.