This article was written by Susan Hewitt and originally appeared on the Informatica Blog here: https://www.informatica.com/blogs/data-transformation-establishing-the-right-data-foundations.html
Rela8 Group, a British event management company, recently spoke with Informatica and Amazon Web Services (AWS) about effective data transformation.
Data-led transformation relies on having quality, trusted data — at the right speed and at the right time. Rela8 Group spoke with Rik Tamm-Daniels, VP, Strategic Ecosystems at Informatica, and Greg Khairallah, Director, WW Analytics at AWS, about the challenges with data and the opportunities for effective data transformation.
Question: What’s responsible for holding back the digital transformation in individual businesses?
Data has become the foundation of transformation — it’s a vital component. So, the challenge comes with finding the right, trusted data, at the right time. Furthermore, this needs to be at the speed and scale that the business demands to effectively transform.
Customers often lack the core infrastructure to capitalize on data transformation, in terms of legacy systems and databases. This can — and often does — cause something of a bottleneck. So, modernizing the data infrastructure is one of the first steps, as well as effective training of IT teams to think differently about how data architectures can be implemented.
Question: What kind of transformational value can be unlocked with a cloud-native, data-led approach?
The sky’s the limit with this, to a certain degree. Almost every business today needs to be data-led. Tapping into the overall agility and ability to fail fast that comes with a cloud-native architecture — empowering that kind of transformation.
Being able to adapt and change quickly — as has been necessary in the last 18 months. A cloud-native architecture made that easy for some and could make it easy for so many more in the future, no matter what happens. It’s the ability to rapidly adapt — that’s core.
Question: What are the best ways to plan, re-start, or adapt digital and business transformation?
Having a clear focus about where and what you want to be as a company is key — a “North Star” of sorts. We encourage customers to think about their digital transformation in the same way, and then plan the steps to get there. Making sure everything is in line with the end goal will accelerate the process — and focus everyone on where you’re going.
Getting the right executive engagement is also so important — executives can be the guiding light to keeping projects on track. There’s a huge people element to this — having the right vision and the right people will help you build the right foundations.
Question: Why is it so important to make data accessible to the business user?
The person who understands what that data means to the business is the person who will benefit most — someone who has the vision and the ability to leverage the data in the right way and at the right time.
The challenges come when the data doesn’t reach the business in a timely way — or the correct data isn’t delivered. That’s when the business looks for a workaround to bridge the gap, and that’s where problems arise. Because then there’s no governance, no traceability, no template to follow in future without a path to data transformation through a cloud-native architecture.
Question: Which challenges are you most often presented with around accessing, cleansing, and interpreting data?
The first challenge is finding it. There are questions of repeated data, hidden data, inaccessible data, an amalgamation of systems — as just a few examples. Comprehensive data cataloging is key to solving that.
There are also challenges around where the data needs to go — and getting it there on time, uncompromised. So how you access it, how you clean it, how you compile it — these all pose challenges of their own, as does dealing with many different company policies surrounding data and its use.
Trust in data is a common challenge too. The business won’t act on data it doesn’t trust. So, how do you ensure the business has confidence in the provenance and accuracy of data assets? Data governance is key to solving for a lack of data confidence.
Question: What would you consider to be the ideal time scale for a company's digital transformation process?
Covid really accelerated customers’ plans, forcing them to change in a hurry — and that changed things. If you haven’t already started, you’re already behind. There is no timeline as such and, of course, every business is different in terms of scale, volume, and reach, to name three metrics, but data transformation should be a process, not a “big bang.”
Speed should not be the key driver; accuracy and a thorough, considered data sharing and data democratization approach is by far preferable and will provide more benefits in the long term.
Question: What tends to be the biggest “pinch point” when it comes to digital transformation?
The biggest “pinch point” depends on the organization of course, but people and technology tend to be the main two. If you don’t have the right sponsorship and stakeholder buy-in, it’s going to be extremely hard to deliver data to the people who want it or need it.
On the technology front, we see a lot of customers trying to deliver transformation with homegrown or manual processes. These can deliver results, but only up to a point. In the long term, they just cause delays and bottlenecks in the data supply chain. Aligning people and technology are key to a strong technical foundation and scalable digital data transformation program.