[1] VISION & STRATEGY: Engaging Business

updated on 16 February 2024

IT Language Won't Impress Business

The implementation of data governance and data catalog solutions are imperative for the success of any data & analytics platform. However, language traditionally used to describe these solutions and benefits are more often than not from an IT perspective.

The benefit statements can be wrapped in technical jargon as well. For example:

  • Automatically track data lineage down to the column level
  • Track metadata for workloads in SQL, R, Python and Scala
  • Capture data about user objects like notebooks, workflows and dashboards
  • Comprehensive view of data assets and mitigation against data risks
  • Improved operational efficiency 

These features and benefits don't speak directly to expected business benefits and outcomes. By only communicating these IT centric benefits, you can only hope to have a neutral response from business (at best). To achieve higher levels of engagement, you'll need to boost your empathy, and identify specific areas of pain from their perspective. 

No Pain, No Gain

Business stakeholders are focused on their business outcomes - rightfully so. They are only begin to ask questions about the data & analytics platforms supporting them when they run into issues and pain points. Below are two examples of "blockers", which was the catalyst for business to take a leading role in data governance and data catalog initiatives:

One Canadian financial investment firm had highly motivated IT leaders, which were looking to implement new enterprise wide governance solutions and policies. Initially, they struggled to get business to engage with the program; it was only after IT highlighted how a recently failed new service & costly campaign could be rescued with data governance that business came to the table. A new "data steering committee" with multiple business stakeholders was created, which supported remedial data quality, data latency and vendor controls.

At a large European insurance company, several business departments were becoming frustrated with multiple new initiatives being blocked by major data latency issues. New customer experiences required key customer account data to move between systems within a few hours. However, the only way to retrieve this information was through a secure FTP connection, which could only offer a SLA of between 24 and 72 hours. 

Symptoms of a lack of data governance and data & analytics platform are as diverse as there are business problems. Aside from blocked projects, other motivators include regulatory or privacy breaches, as well as unanswered business questions. 

Further Business Pain Examples

Look for examples of business units struggling with data quality, latency and accessibility to find the right moments and the right context to communicate with them about the benefits of data governance and data & analytics platforms.

  1. Marketing analysts spend an excessive time searching for and understanding data sources when building marketing campaign segments and journeys
  2. A non profit organization is unsure or has a lack of confidence about the number of donors in each cohort. They don’t trust the data, and therefore, aren’t able to make informed and confidence decisions about where to invest resources
  3. A major marketing transformation project was put on hold because the data needed to perform the personalization they planned was incomplete and inconsistent
  4. An insurance company had inconsistent inaccurate customer personal details stored, which lead to claims process delays

Solutions That Put Business at the Forefront

When investing in their data platform's governance and cataloging solution, a global investment firm took a business first approach to the problem. Their requirements for the solution put business users in the driver's seat:

"The [data platform catalog] is first and foremost a business facing platform and is delivered using a business dialect. It purposely omits any and all technical references to SQL, design patterns or programming code. Pioneer took the additional step of having a graphic designer assist in the graphical user interface (GUI) and usability of the repository to ensure an intuitive and appealing presentation for end users. The system also uses single sign-on authentication allowing all business a user’s seamless  and immediate access to the system."

Pioneer Investments, a global assets company acquired by Amundi¹

This investment firm's business first approach was focused on a bespoke user interface for interacting with the curated catalog. Today, the next evolution of this experience has emerged. Natural language and AI powered technologies have made solutions like Databrick's Lakehouse IQ possible, which allow users to use plain language to query and search for data. These solutions are able to understand your businesses'' unique jargon and organization structure, which provides improved results vs. naive generic use of Large Language Models (LLMs). 

¹ https://epublications.regis.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1465&context=theses

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