Business competitive advantage is a difficult objective to achieve for many reasons. As businesses establish their IT topology and begin to grow their transactional and referential data, change happens along the way – mergers, acquisitions, product strategy, etc. – which can adversely affect data value and stalemate growth and competitive positioning.
How do businesses rationalize and take advantage of these changes in their data situation, rather than being taken hostage by them? Having an understanding of your data – both its quality and value – is key to this. As businesses grow, it’s typical to see silos of data spring up within departments, across regions and among distributed systems. This is not necessarily the problem – the problem is knowing what data you have, its importance to your business, and how to maintain it for optimal use. Business-Ready Data is a great way to describe that “maintained and valued” data.
Building a system to address Business-Ready Data by adding tools to manage Big Data, to deliver faster results through analytic systems such as SAP’s HANA, or to rationalize on one vendor’s tools are all understandable actions that were meant with the best intentions. However, they don’t solve the data dilemma – how to extract value out of all relevant business data in order to address changing business conditions. The best way to solve the data dilemma is to look at it from the perspective of a Data Stewardship Platform. A Data Stewardship Platform supports purpose-built applications that can be used by business users as well as IT, to jointly solve data issues across their entire business.
A Data Stewardship Platform builds-in data governance and data quality to a process to manage important data. The Data Stewardship Platform is designed to help businesses leverage the investments made in systems and business applications and to help organizations reach their data quality and information governance goals. A Data Stewardship Platform provides:
- Holistic view and management of data quality across relevant business data
- Built-in and consistent methodology and approach to improving data quality
- Data readiness for a data migration or information governance project
- Ability to rapidly see where data errors are occurring and guidance on how to remediate them
- Steps to manage an efficient data migration from one system to another, keeping data quality intact
- Ability to maintain ongoing data quality and information governance
Let’s look a little closer at some of the benefits of a Data Stewardship Platform.
If you are running SAP ERP business applications and you acquire a company that is running Oracle ERP business applications, your ability to stay competitive depends on how fast and how well you are able to integrate those platforms – consolidating them into, say, the SAP ERP system. When you look at a project like that, at a minimum you are facing:
- Data extractions and loading
- Data overlap
- Inconsistencies between data descriptions and types
- Knowledge and expertise in SAP systems, applications and process
- Process inconsistencies
- System incompatibilities
- Master data definition rework
- Overworked, understaffed IT teams
- Inability for the IT team to understand the business users’ data descriptions and value placed on certain key data
- Unknown project time to successfully complete data migration activities
- Potential risk of lost business due to project delays
- Unknown cost of professional services to address all potential disparate solutions involved
and there are many other factors than these. If you apply a Data Stewardship Platform approach to the project, you quickly see that the majority of these issues are mitigated:
- Data extractions and loading – included in the Platform
- Data overlap – automatically handled by the Platform
- Inconsistencies between data descriptions and types – the Platform remediates data inconsistencies
- Knowledge and expertise in SAP systems, applications and process – the Platform should include content, integrations to, and expertise on the business systems involved
- Process inconsistencies – the Platform provides guided process and workflow
- System incompatibilities – the Platform has built-in knowledge of disparate systems in order to handle mapping and transformations
- Master data definition rework – the Platform easily resolves master data definitions
- Overworked, understaffed IT teams – the Platform provides consistent and intuitive user interfaces, for use by both business users and IT
- Inability for the IT team to understand the business users’ data descriptions and value placed on certain key data – business users can easily prepare, manage and modify relevant business data
- Unknown project time to successfully complete data migration activities – the Platform provides a consistent, repeatable and predictable methodology to address project schedule and deliverables
- Potential risk of lost business due to project delays – the Platform helps users get a reliable picture of project status and what needs to happen for a successful go-live
- Unknown cost of professional services to address all potential disparate solutions involved – the Platform approach consolidates disparate functionality to streamline project work and resources
Without a Data Stewardship Platform, this type of a project would be handled by disparate tools that may not be coordinated with various data sources nor be cognizant of the business applications or process intended by your organization. It could take years and countless consultants to complete. It’s important to take a comprehensive approach to all your business data, particularly as it grows, in order to maintain costs and keep pace with rapidly changing business conditions – thereby assuring your competitive advantage in the marketplace.
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