Bridging the Gap Between Business and IT with Self-Service Data Preparation

Bridging the Gap Between Business and IT with Self-Service Data Preparation

  • Jean-Michel Franco
    Jean-Michel Franco is Director of Product Marketing for Talend. He has dedicated his career to developing and broadening the adoption of innovative technologies in companies. Prior to joining Talend, he started out at EDS (now HP) by creating and developing a business intelligence (BI) practice, joined SAP EMEA as Director of Marketing Solutions in France and North Africa, and then lately Business & Decision as Innovation Director. He authored 4 books and regularly publishes articles, presents at events and tradeshows and can be followed on Twitter: @jmichel_franco


It’s widely understood that our world is becoming digital—consumers, business workers and leaders alike want information and services to be delivered ‘as they like, when and wherever they want.’  In order to meet this demand, the companies need to become more data-driven—using enterprise information to make educated decisions—in order to increase customer service and overall competitive advantage. However, research from McKinsey estimates that The US economy as a whole is realizing only 18 percent of its digital potential, due to a widening between what they call “the digital haves” and “the have mores”. Meaning that despite the digital transformation movement, many companies are still lagging behind the "have mores”.

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Creating a Vision for Digital Transformation

Organizational leaders must have an overarching vision for how they are running the last mile of their digital transformation journey: establishing  the data-driven culture, turning every employee into information workers to do their jobs more efficiently, digitalizing each and every routine task and fostering  the creation of new digital jobs faster. The key points of this strategy require capturing the right data, keeping it clean and sharing it across sales, marketing and customer service functions. By investing in self-service functionality and expanding access to both internal and external data sources for all business users, IT can success in enabling company-wide collaboration and empowering operational workers to do their jobs more efficiently, speeding time-to-insight.

Let's take marketing for example. It wasn't that long ago that this function was driven by intuition rather that data and facts. But now, every click is analyzed and can trigger new sales through real-time recommendations; every lead is scored, every deal can be "attributed" to the original action from which it was produced. This is all done through data-driven marketing, which ultimately increase customer intimacy and loyalty, driving more sales and overall company profitability.

Making Everyone Data-Driven

Since everyone needs information, and it's particularly cumbersome, redundant and time-consuming to exploit it for one's daily activities, it is tempting to recruit the help of simple point solutions that just improve personal productivity. Thus we are seeing a multitude of “bring your own data” tools appearing on the market that appeal to a particular user profile; some are targeting the data scientists in the context of Big Data and Hadoop environments, while others are targeting the data analysts inside their business intelligence or data discovery tools, and Excel continue to be the place where “the rest of us” try to put data at work with the traditional way.

Such approaches may relieve some individual pains, but this doesn’t make a data-driven business. The true challenge for effective adoption of ‘self-service data preparation tools’ consists of an organization’s ability to share information broadly, allowing the circle of "information workers" that are able to access the information more widespread.

When you limit self-service data access and preparation to a small circle of specialists, they will be the only ones who will benefit from improved personal productivity. While they are definitely the ‘subject matter experts’ who know the data  and related rules to put them at work, when you empower them to share their knowledge and practices across the organization, those employees then become agents of change in transforming the company into a truly data-driven organization.

Collaboration is the Key to Data-Driven Culture

Turning data into insights  is a team effort. Not only must data preparation platforms deliver self-service capabilities into a daily activity enjoyed by only a few, but they need to orchestrate data collaboration amongst a wider set of employees in order to truly advance overall company objectives. It’s also important that self-service data preparation platforms establish common disciplines and rules, through functions related to security, control, governance and collaborative management. We’ll delve further into the details of governance for self-service data preparation in our next installment.

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