5 Best Practices to Help You Reap the Benefits of Data Democratization

Born out of the necessity to leverage more value out of Big Data, data democratization is an approach that allows data to pass from the hands of a few data analysts into the hands of business users.

With a data democratization strategy in place, every user in the organization, regardless of their technical prowess, can have access to data for timely and more insightful decision-making. This, in turn, helps analysts spend more time using data and less time finding it. However, even when an organization wants to empower every employee with easy access to data, there can be several infrastructure, culture, and governance-related impediments to making data available freely to them.

In this blog, we have listed 5 best practices that a business can adopt to overcome these challenges and establish enterprise-wide data democracy.

1. Gain an Understanding of the Entire Data Ecosystem

As an organization grows, so do the volume, variety, and velocity of incoming data and the challenges associated with managing it. Information becomes siloed in systems and is accessible by relevant teams only, thereby offering a myopic vision of the data space to users.

In-depth understanding of the data ecosystem and the fragmented systems that comprise it is integral to designing an integrated data space that offers all the users a holistic view of the information assets, along with the metadata and context they need to feel more confident about the relevance and trustworthiness of data.

2. Make Data Available to Everyone

In most organizations, data integration and analysis tools sit with IT departments who act as the gatekeepers of data, with business users at the mercy of data scientists to gain access to relevant data for BI and analytics. This can result in a data management process that is slow, frictional, and highly IT-reliant.

For businesses that wish to benefit from data democratization, it is essential to invest in data integration and analysis tools that offer the same usability and performance to everyone from developers to the end-user with limited technical knowledge.

3. Tame Your Legacy Data

Data democratization is not just about making fresh data accessible for analysis and reporting. It also involves liberating the data trapped within legacy systems for answering questions that were not contemplated by people who originally collected this information.

However, legacy systems are inherently inflexible and can hamper the data democratization efforts of any organization. To overcome the challenge and integrate legacy data into modern infrastructures, businesses must invest in data integration tools that offer instant API connectivity to not only popular databases but also cloud-based systems and applications to ensure interoperability.

4. Empower Users with Self-Service Analytics

For organizations to reap the full benefits of data democratization, they must empower their users to not only access data but also make data analysis and reporting part of day-to-day operations.

Although data integration and BI tools and technologies have evolved greatly over the past few years, finding a data management platform that facilitates access, analysis, and reporting of data in highly consumable ways remains an ongoing quest for most enterprises.

The solution to the problem lies in finding a data integration solution that lets you take advantage of the data the resides in previously disconnected systems, offers out-of-the-box connectivity to BI and analytics tools, as well as allows employees without technical knowledge to easily manipulate and analyze data.

5. Train Employees on How to Best Use Data

Data governance go hand in hand with data democratization, and lack of a data governance plan can quickly result in information overload, poor decisions, and reputational risk. To avoid these demerits of data democratization, everyone in the organization should be trained on how to best use the data, importance of understanding data lineage, and how it can be transformed for BI and analytics.

By taking these steps to democratize data, you can dramatically increase the value your business extracts from information assets and make data your basis of competitive differentiation.

data democratization infographics download

Optimizing Business Capabilities with a Data Integration Software

Businesses are increasingly adopting a data-driven culture. The significant surge in the volume of the exchanged data indicates that the trend is creating a paradigm shift – a shift from manufacturing to an information economy. To put this in perspective, Google processes petabyte of information by the hour and The Economist recently declared data as the most valuable resource, even more than the oil.

Data integration with Centerprise

“The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.”

-The Economist

But the true utility of any resource comes from its consumption or the value it delivers to the consumers. The same principle applies to data. To gain maximum utility out of data, businesses must be able to (quickly and reliably) integrate incoming data from disparate sources and make that information available to the relevant stakeholders, both internally and externally. Your business needs a data integration tool to perform this task efficiently.

A data integration tool can help you in following ways to optimize your current business capabilities:

By extracting data from structured and unstructured sources

Incoming data can be structured, semi-structured, poly-structured or unstructured. For instance, text-based PDF files, PDF forms and scanned PDF images are used as a medium for exchanging information by many organizations. But the data contained in PDF files is unstructured and is required to be extracted for crucial business decisions. A data integration tool can automate the data extraction process and integrate the extracted data with the internal systems for further processing and analysis.

By integrating data from hierarchical files

Integrating data from flat files is comparatively easier but business users face challenges when they try to extract, parse and integrate information from hierarchical data files such as XML, JSON, EDI and COBOL. To perform hierarchical data integration, business users rely on IT, which increases the burden on them. A data integration tool can effectively bridge this gap between business executives and IT.

Learn how Centerprise Data Integrator enables business users to work with hierarchical data, without the need for custom coding and programming, by downloading the whitepaper Hierarchical Data Integration for Business Users.

By making data readily available to business users

A data integration tool with a user-friendly interface and a comprehensive library of built-in functions can help limit the reliance on IT. It readily makes the data available to business users who can then work with the available information and get business insights without delay. Additionally, data integration tools can automate the ETL process, which eliminates the need for manual integration and significantly reduces the chances of errors.

The performance of a business is optimized when the executives are more focused on making critical business decisions rather than collecting and integrating the data.

By checking for data-quality

A data integration tool cleanses, validates and ensures the trustworthiness of the incoming data. Poor quality data can adversely affect business insights that can prove to be expensive for the business.

Overall, a data integration tool that simplifies the ETL process for the users is an investment that organizations should make to stay relevant in the current data driven business environment. It can prove to be beneficial for the business in more than one ways. By bridging the gap between IT and business executives, it helps in efficient division of workload. It empowers business users to drive insights from the data by giving them prompt access to it. And when executives delegate the task of data integration and extraction to software, they can focus on more critical aspects of the business. The result is faster and more accurate business decisions, minimized costs and increased revenue.

Astera’s Centerprise Data Integrator is a complete data integration solution that provides the mentioned benefits to its users, and more. The user-friendly interface and visual drag-and-drop environment eliminates the need for manual scripting and enables business users to work with data without relying on IT. Contact Astera’s sales and support to get more information.

Common Challenges of COBOL Data Extraction and How Centerprise Addresses Them

Although technologies like Ruby, Hadoop, and Cloud Computing continue to dominate headlines, there are still a large number of businesses that rely on legacy technologies. Many businesses, particularly those operating in the banking and insurance sector, use solutions that are COBOL-based.

According to Reuters, over 220 billion lines of COBOL code are in use today. As a result, a tremendous amount of data remains tied up in legacy systems. For any legacy modernization and BI initiative to be successful, it is important that this data must be integrated, transformed, and offloaded onto an analytics platform.

While extracting data from COBOL-based legacy applications is essential for improved decision-making, it remains a challenge for most businesses due to two primary reasons:

  • Shortage of COBOL Skills

There is a growing gap between the number of skilled COBOL programmers and organizations relying on the programming language. The average age of COBOL programmers is 55 years, and 70 percent of universities are favoring fancy languages like Java, C++, Linux, and UNIX over COBOL.

  • Need for Custom Programming

Analyzing data by directly querying the mainframe is a complex process. It requires custom development and therefore can be time-consuming and costly, with billing based on MIPS.

To addresses these two challenges, businesses need a solution that can fuel their data integration efforts, while ensuring data quality and reducing the need for hand-coding the processes.

How Centerprise Facilitates COBOL Data Extraction

Centerprise is a complete data integration solution that allows users to import data from a variety of sources, including legacy systems, transform it and write it to a destination of their choice. With its user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface and unparalleled data mapping capabilities, Centerprise makes the process of extracting data from COBOL-based systems simple, quick, and cost-effective.

cobol data extraction, legacy modernization

Centerprise offers complete support for COBOL data extraction with the functionality to:

  • Read a COBOL File — Centerprise features a high-speed COBOL file reader that can efficiently process large COBOL files.
  • Parse a Copybook — The built-in copybook parser reads a COBOL copybook and automatically builds the layout. When a copybook is not available, users can import a COBOL data file as a fixed length file and manually define field markers, data types, and numeric formats.
  • Identify USAGE, REDEFINES, and OCCURS — Centerprise offers support for different clauses used in a COBOL data file, including REDEFINES, OCCURS, and USAGE, such as COMP, COMP-3, COMP-5.

Once a COBOL data file has been imported, users can leverage the code-free, drag-and-drop environment of Centerprise to transform and write data to a destination of their choice.

Download our whitepaper to learn how Centerprise can help you combine legacy COBOL data with modern data streams and get a unified view of your information assets.

Automate Partner Data Exchange and Integration through Astera’s Customer Portal

Effective business intelligence demands proper data collection and integration processes. Modern businesses receive data in different formats from a variety of communication protocols, when efficient collaboration and tracking of data exchanges are more important than ever before.

Partner Data Exchange and Integration Automation
Partner Data Exchange – Centerprise Data Integration Software

As data increases, the maintenance and management of multiple files from disparate sources takes its toll on IT teams. File based partner data exchanges need to be fast, reliable, and secure for transfers, especially on large-scale operations. Manual data entry and file exchange over channels like email aren’t sufficient anymore. Businesses need a centralized platform where customers, partners, suppliers, and employees can upload data files, ensure compliance, and track file status.

Enter the new Astera Cloud Customer Portal.

Key features include:

Centralized Uploading

Partners upload data files directly on the portal URL using their unique login credentials. Validation and cleansing take place automatically on the backend Centerprise server using custom integration flows. A response file is generated at the end for both the admin and users.

File Tracking

The Customer Portal comes with inherent file tracking: all involved remain up-to-date on file statuses in real-time via the Dashboard. For unsuccessful uploads, the response file contains error codes and explanations. Status emails can also be configured for all types of accounts. This ensures all necessary files are uploaded correctly after data validation, allowing the final workflow to run as scheduled.

Security

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and file encryption are supported on the Customer Portal. Uploaded encrypted files are automatically decrypted, processed, and then re-encrypted by Centerprise to be sent back.

Scalability

The Customer Portal is built to handle unlimited data volume and borrows on Centerprise’s powerful scalability. Cloud servers can also be added for reliable load balancing.

White Label Capability

Astera Cloud’s Customer Portal is customizable, with the ability to use your company logo and domain name. Get all the functionality of Centerprise while maintaining brand cohesion.

For a live demo and information on pricing for our partner data exchange and integration solution, call us at +1 888-772-7837 or email us at sales@astera.com

What is Data Warehousing?

In today’s business environment, it is essential for an organization to have reliable reporting and analysis of their data. Businesses need their data to be consolidated and integrated for different levels of aggregation, from customer service, to partner integration, to top-level executive business decisions.

What is a Data Warehouse?

The data warehouse is a repository of an organization’s electronically stored data extracted from operational systems and made available for ad-hoc queries and scheduled reporting. Data stored in the data warehouse is different from data found in the operational environment in that it is organized in such a way where relevant data is clustered together to facilitate reporting for day-to-day operations and analysis. This then determines the trends over time and creates plans based on that information.

Advantages

Data warehouses have many advantages, including:

– Improved end-user access to a wide variety of enterprise data

– Increased data consistency

– Additional documentation of the data

– Potentially lower computing costs and increased productivity

– Providing a place to combine related data from separate sources

– Creation of a computing infrastructure that can support changes in computer systems and business structures

– Empowering end-users to perform ad-hoc queries or reports without impacting the performance of the operational systems

Data Warehouse Solutions

The data infrastructure of most organizations is a collection of heterogeneous systems. For example, an organization might have one system that handles customer-relationships, human resources, sales, production, finance, partners, etc. These systems are often poorly or not at all integrated and simple questions can be very hard to answer, even though the information is available “somewhere” within the disparate data systems. Data warehouses solve these issues by creating a single database of homogeneous data that can be easily accessed and manipulated.

Needless to say, the software tools used for extracting and transforming the data into a homogeneous format that can be loaded into the data warehouse are also key components of a data warehousing system. This is the underlying framework that ensures the quality and usability of the data. Centerprise Data Integrator brings together high-performance data warehousing extract, transform, and load (ETL) features in a unified and intuitive package. It offers a number of features and optimizations to support data warehouse loading, including a high-performance slowly changing dimensions (SCD) component, lookup caching, robust parallel-processing engine, and optimized database writes. Click here to learn more about data warehousing and the optimized Centerprise data warehousing solution. You can also view our webinar video, Working with the High-volume Data Warehouse in Centerprise on Astera.TV.