How Data Hubs Foster Better Business Visibility
A core element of digital transformation is the ability of companies to deliver trusted, reliable data to business users exactly when they need it. Businesses have come to recognize that data made available on this basis provides quicker, more accurate decision-making, growth and competitive advantage.
However, the data reality in many organizations today is very different. Instead of fluid, trusted flows of data to analysts and others, they are running up against a proliferation of data silos. This causes knowledge workers to spend hours finding and often fixing spreadsheet data and questioning how trustworthy the data actually is, not to mention mounting calls to IT for support in getting the data they need.
Dealing with Today’s Data Dilemma
Recognizing the data dilemma in which many businesses are consumed today, some IT departments have tried various ways to gain order from data chaos. But they all have one thing in common: They don’t work to deliver what knowledge workers and decision makers need. Some of these stop-gap efforts include:
- Continued building upon relational data marts and data warehouses that ultimately increase IT complexity and data woes.
- Continued use of extract, transform, and load (ETL) strategies for integrating data from disparate sources when those sources are rapidly multiplying.
- Copying absurb amounts of data into disparate systems, an often manual and mistake-laden strategy that adds expense and increases time to value.
- Utilizing traditional point-to-point batch-mode integration among systems for accessing operational data. The issue with this integration is that it gets complex quickly when companies have a number of core business systems and data points that need to be exchanged and analyzed. In addition, traditional integrations offer no way for businesses to combine and analyze their operational data contextually with relevant data from external sources. Think point-of-sale systems, market-related data, IoT, and customer- or supplier-provided information as a few examples.
The Data Hub Solution
What businesses need is a solution that creates a 360-degree view of enterprise data—regardless of its source, volume or data type. That solution is a data hub platform – a centralized, one-stop solution that integrates and manages data from a company’s ERP, CRM and other operational systems, as well as from web applications and other data sources.
A data hub does away with traditional point-to-point data integration which ultimately leads to the exhaustive and costly replication of data to support various business processes. Instead, a data hub streamlines access to operational data using an efficient hub-and-spoke pattern whereby data is sourced from many disparate sources (spokes) and systematically transformed and managed within the centralized hub. Governing the secure hub is a common data model that communicates how all the data is connected to each other, processed and stored.
A Data Hub’s Characteristics
With a data hub, organizations collect relevant sales, operations and other core business data into a single version of the truth that is:
- Scalable to accommodate future data growth
- Flexible in that it supports diverse types of data sets: structured, semi-structured and unstructured
- Reliable to ensure data is always available for consumption
- Secure so that the information is shared with all data consumers in a controlled manner
Providing Business Visibility from a Central Vantage Point
A data hub enables information sharing by publishing, organizing and managing data in the hub so applications can access, consume and use it. It lets data become visible from a single console, and this brings with it a wide array of added benefits. Analysts get a clearer view of the “bigger picture” by seeing the entire data landscape, which can help optimize the scope of their data sharing and collaboration.
A data hub also makes data look simpler and more unified than it generally is, which is a great advantage in today’s complex, multi-source environment. This gives analysts (and IT in some cases) the ability to create analytical views in an easy, flexible way without having to carry out time-consuming and repetitive data migration and preparation tasks.
Fostering a Holistic View of the Business
One of the critical mistakes that many companies make is thinking of data in isolation of business processes and as a by-product of a single operational system. But modernizing IT requires a holistic view of how data, applications and organizations interact to drive business value.
Real-time, streamlined accessibility of data from both inside and outside the business has become a necessity. As a result, organizations that best manage it and how it flows to the right people at the right time — quickly — will emerge highly competitive.
A data hub is a key solution required by companies to achieve wide-scale accessibility to enterprise data while fostering how business analysis and reporting not only gets done, but gets done in the most optimal and efficient way possible.