Companies around the world invest heavily in data and analytics to stay competitive. According to one study by EY, around 93% of the companies surveyed indicated they have plans to increase their investments in data and analytics.
As these companies continue to evolve, so does the data they rely on. Modern tools and capabilities are required to render this new data useful. This evolution results in newer and disparate data sources amidst existing data silos with minimal company-wide data accessibility.
What can companies do to ensure company-wide data accessibility? The answer lies in using a unified data management software.
Unified Data Management
So, what exactly is Unified Data Management (UDM)? It is a process whereby all disparate data sources are combined and consolidated using data mapping tools into a single data source. This single data source is essentially a data warehouse that businesses can use for analytics and reporting.
As easy as it sounds, adopting the unified data management approach is one of the most challenging paths a company can undertake. Businesses use various technologies and tools for different data sources, and the data from these sources tend to be very different. For example, some can be structured, multi-structured, and even unstructured.
Let’s look at some of the challenges companies face when adopting the unified data management framework.
1. Setting unreal goals
Unifying the entire data from all the different data sources in a single attempt is easier said than done! The solution lies in taking one step at a time, for example, identifying and combining the business-critical data before proceeding further. This is often called the incremental approach.
2. Not having a clear understanding of the data
Often, a large volume of data is accumulated but never utilized. This happens when companies lack a proper understanding of the data, resulting in wasted resources and increased costs.
Adding a discovery layer helps keep track of the existing data while making it more accessible and usable.
3. Unifying data is often looked at as a cost burden
Most companies make the mistake that they see unified data management as the elephant in the room. Acknowledging and not addressing data issues only make the elephant grow. Data-driven companies should look at it as an investment, not an expense.
4. Uncertainty around data governance and standards
Compliance and regulatory laws frequently change to suit the ever-changing needs of the connected world. Complying with all regulatory laws and setting newer standards can quickly become one of the biggest challenges of building a unified data management system.
To ensure compliance, any system should be planned, designed, and developed with business owners, IT professionals, data scientists, and data governance experts.
Now that we have looked at some of the challenges of adopting the unified data management system, let’s see how businesses can benefit once they have adopted it.
1. Cost reduction
Cost reduction due to a unified data management system is achieved at multiple points. Modern unified data management systems employ the cloud platform, which means neither is any investment needed nor are any expenses incurred for the on-prem system.
IT and data professionals spend more time on productive work because most tasks in a unified data management system are automated.
2. Centralized, accessible data
With a unified data management system, company-wide data is consolidated into a single data source within a data warehouse. A single data source accessible to all the departments simultaneously ensures that every departmental decision made is backed by the most up-to-date data. Moreover, having a single data source makes it incredibly easier to manage at the organizational level.
3. Insights and analysis
Unified data enables businesses to extract precise insights resulting in accurate analysis and decision-making. In the long term, companies with a unified data management system are better poised to innovate and build a sustainable competitive advantage.
Robust compliance and governance mechanisms must be in place to manage the ever-increasing volumes of data. The data should be managed in a manner that guarantees safety and compliance with all regulations. Unified data management systems come with embedded capabilities to ensure compliance. Moreover, compliance with regulations goes a long way in fostering trust between businesses and their vendors and customers.
To sum it up
Given the abundance of data and the absolute necessity to utilize it, businesses must adopt a unified data management approach to build a sustainable competitive advantage. Having a centralized data repository accessible to all the functions is the way to go.
While there are challenges in adopting the unified data management system, these challenges can be tackled with an effective data strategy. Furthermore, the benefits outweigh the costs – the key is to realize that adopting this approach is an investment.