Preventing Data Chaos in a World of Self-Service Analytics
By Chris Hutchins, AVP, Healthcare Analytics, Northwell Health
Today, analytic capabilities are empowering organizations to deliver essential insights to sustain, innovate and grow business in a very competitive and pressurized environment. There are multiple factors that are driving the need for this capability. Specialized verticals exist in most organizations that require career level focus from a subject matter perspective that is not easily centralized. Prioritization of analytic development across an enterprise is also challenging as there are often competing initiatives. Traditional business intelligence platforms require significant infrastructure and highly skilled labor to manage at scale. Prior to the recent advancement of self-service tools, it simply took too long to perform the simplest analyses and business leaders were often stuck in a development queue. These factors aside, self-service and independent action with data decentralized across an enterprise can rapidly lead to data chaos and anarchy resulting in analytics that cannot be trusted.
One emerging best-practice is to focus enterprise architecture and analytics teams on enablement. This approach can accelerate development of capabilities that enable self-service and independent action, while fostering collaboration, re-use and enterprise governance. Accelerating this process can enable the concurrent generation of actionable and transformative insights across multiple verticals. Fast tracking the development and implementation of an effective self-service strategy may differentiate between organizations that are winning versus competing.
Where there may be no single strategy that will work for every organization, there are a couple of key focus areas that will provide a framework and foundation to build on.
Provide an Enterprise Platform
Providing a common centralized platform for analytics teams to utilize, provides a mechanism to determine which tool sets that, the organization will support, ensuring effective management of licensure and cost. This is also a way to address growing concerns around information security by providing enterprise level security within the platform and bearing the burden of provisioning for the business. Providing this environment can also simplify provisioning access to data sources. It is important to leverage the models that are employed in source systems wherever possible to ensure that access levels are appropriate and consistent. This is not otherwise easily managed as creating a robust central process can be cumbersome and resource intensive. Some key benefits of this approach include visibility into organizational analytic priorities, enabling facilitation and coordination of efforts across common analytic goals, informing development of enterprise data warehousing and analytic roadmaps, and enabling efficient system administration, software versions, license management, and performance optimization.
Approaching Analytic Governance
As an organization goes through a transformation to self-service analytics, there is often sensitivity to this kind of central function. Establishing and marketing this as a service to support analytic teams is highly recommended. Creating a centralized infrastructure will assist in developing governance around organizational analytics, without impeding the important work being done in business units on a daily basis. In addition to providing this capability, it is also important to provide framework that enables teams to collaborate, share, and promote best practices. One approach is to establish a center of excellence or an analytic resource center where teams can contribute content to be shared with colleagues. Including a platform to house a business glossary where common terms and definitions are published is also recommended. Additionally, publishing links to important documentation or to regulatory information will also add value. Identifying a business leader with broad organizational knowledge to lead this effort can accelerate adoption and improve governance with a focus on developing a platform to house shared content and the development of user forums and communities.
As your organization develops an analytic strategy, these are items to consider and could be valuable foundational components as it unfolds.