Tech leaders balance agility with control in drive to democratize data

Many organizations seeking to leverage their data assets and become more agile have embarked on transformational programs aimed at putting more data and analytics in the hands of technical and non-technical people.

To effectively democratize these capabilities, technology leaders are adopting new technology platforms, investing in upskilling programs and new ways of working, and building stronger connections with business partners to protect the reliability and integrity of company data, And empower teams to unlock new sources of value.

Getting the job done requires a high level of attention to detail and a strategic approach to managing enterprise data. Additionally, technology platforms must provide the required accessibility and user experience, while providing appropriate security and risk management.

No matter where data or applications are located, technology leaders must balance “empowerment and agility with consistency and control,” said Erin Chapple, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure core products and design.

Meet immutable data where the team is located

At Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies, cloud and virtualization technologies are helping scientists easily access immutable, trusted data for research in and out of the lab.

Much of Adaptive’s data infrastructure and tools are centralized. This enables the company to control the state of the data and who has access, which is critical to Adaptive’s work to ensure that biologists can conduct reproducible studies. Today, cloud-based tools enable scientists to access data through virtual machines and run analyses with confidence that they have reliable information.

“It’s about giving someone assurance that the data will be where you need it,” says Dr. Adaptive Chief Operating Officer Mark Adams. “There should be no additional burden.”

As more capabilities are democratized, ensuring infrastructure and tools perform as expected, and managing cloud costs in a world with unlimited computing resources, could become challenges, Adams noted. But these challenges are normal when weighing the new opportunities that can be unlocked.

“If we become more and more systematized about where the data resides…you can have people weave data collected in many different contexts,” he said. As the company grows, teams across the company will be able to more easily create data-driven dashboards and more actively measure performance and progress toward goals.

Prepare organizations for a data-driven future

Lumen Technologies, a $19.7 billion telecommunications company, is adopting a joint citizen developer model and reorganizing teams around business priorities “so that they become a natural extension of what the business is trying to achieve,” said chief transformation officer Fletcher Keister. The transformation is designed to drive greater alignment between business and IT, and to equip new teams with digital capabilities and access to the data they need to do their jobs effectively.

To achieve this, Lumen is rolling out a common platform and tools, developing a clearly defined framework and governance principles to govern how these tools are used, and investing in training to help teams across the organization learn new technologies and adapt to more agile way or work. This year, the company launched a program targeting 40 hours of development time per employee in strategic planning and transformation organizations.

Data literacy is becoming increasingly important as organizations expand access to data and analytics capabilities beyond the technology sector. “Every part of every organization needs better data skills,” Gabe Dalporto, CEO of education platform Udacity, said at a recent conference. “It’s not just an IT organization.”

More training, coupled with a shift to new ways of working, not only gives teams the skills they need, but also more opportunities for them to collaborate and strengthen relationships, a point Kester emphasizes is at the heart of any successful change program. .

“The most important word associated with transformation is trust,” he said.

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