How a Data Catalog is Supporting Today’s Remote Workforce

Paul RasmussenApril 1, 2020

White Paper: Data Governance in the Age of Big Data

Modern technologies enable businesses to offer more flexible work environments. So much work today is done from the comfort of our homes thanks to web conferencing apps, collaboration programs and project management tools. A study by Global Workplace Analytics found that the number of people working remotely has increased by 173% since 2005 with close to 5 million workers working from home.

Flexible workplace environments offer benefits for both the employer and employee. For workers, they spend less time commuting, less distractions and better work/life balance. For employers, they incur less cost by saving on office space, achieve better employee retention and enjoy a wider range of job applicants because geography restrictions are no longer an issue.

While many businesses are already taking advantage of these benefits by allowing their employees to work remotely two or three times a week, working from home exclusively is now the reality for many companies and their employees to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

All organizations and roles within a company are different. It might be easy for salespeople to make sales calls from home or logistics coordinators to arrange, manage and process shipments from the comfort of their own home. But what about IT teams, business analysts, data scientists or insurance underwriters? All these employees rely on large amounts of data to build pipelines, reports and policies.

Some data-driven businesses already have the IT infrastructure to quickly transition to a remote work environment. Others aren’t quite as prepared. 

The Challenges of Leveraging Data from Home 

In data-driven organizations, data management is the responsibility of both the business and IT department. Together, they ensure that business users can easily consume and leverage enterprise data to make critical business decisions, which requires cooperation and communication between diverging departments.

However, once physical proximity is removed, communication often suffers, reducing, in many cases, the availability and awareness of useable data for business users.

Despite the ongoing digital transformation many organizations are experiencing, there are situations where business users can’t find the information they need. They then reach out to the IT department, who may be working remotely themselves. And while IT resources are more advanced than years past, the volume of requests quickly grows. As IT is working on ensuring security standards and fixing vulnerabilities, helping workers troubleshoot, maintaining networks and servers, they are also prioritizing data requests from users. Just when one request is satisfied, another user request is submitted. IT not only feels inundated and overwhelmed, but competing priorities makes it difficult to be productive.

For these reasons, and many others, organizations must make it easier for data users to find, collaborate and use their data from home, minimizing the reliance on IT.  

How Data-Driven Businesses Empower Remote Workers

One-way organizations make it easier to take advantage of data is by incorporating self-service tools. For example, an ideal scenario is a data governance framework prioritizing data quality for comprehensive data catalog, enabling self-service data extraction, transformation and analysis.

Using data governance to construct a centralized data catalog helps make massive quantities of data available to a company’s workforce from any location. With a data catalog, the IT team can easily manage policies, communicate data access methods and convey usage restriction rights from home. As a result, the burden is taken off IT’s shoulders, putting data back into the hands of the business user, instead of requiring multiple avenues to access different data sets.

When building a data catalog, organizations must focus on the high value data that drives their company’s operations and insights. Measuring data and information value is critical.

Ultimately, the catalog organizes and documents robust details about an organization’s critical data assets in a simple, easy to digest format. Simplified workflows help business users quickly analyze data sets and easy-to-use discovery features encourage remote workers to quickly search their business glossary, locate, collaborate and apply their data.

Why Data Availability is Not Enough

But data availability is not enough; suitability is also important. Users must be able to trust the data and know that is suitable to their needs. Thus, the catalog must include data quality metric baselines by profiling data to monitor and measure data quality scores. Socialization features then provide transparency into data quality scores and inform users which data is best suited for their purposes. With collaborative features, users can quickly send data to one another, greatly simplifying the acquisition process.

A single, governed, self-service data catalog also identifies data owners, stewards, users and subject matter experts, so business users know who to message when they have questions about data. By including business lineage, business users receive a clear understanding of the context, flow and dependencies of their data aiding in the identification of critical business process relationships and impact they have on data.

Establishing an enterprise-wide data governance framework, merging data quality capabilities and developing a data catalog, businesses remove the strain on IT, empowering employees to quickly process their own data requests. Subsequently, the business runs smoothly, generating data-driven insights ensuring business success while employees work from home.

Are you interested in learning more utilizing data while working remotely? Check out the white paper above and below.

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White Paper: Data Governance in the Age of Big Data