How to Shop for Data?
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Today, the most innovative and successful organizations leverage data to increase revenue, minimize expenses, and deliver products and services that meet the needs of their customers. To be truly “data-driven,” an organization must view data as more than a byproduct of business operations that can be haphazardly collected, stored, and accessed. A data-driven organization must have a strategic plan for how its data assets will be utilized to drive critical decision-making within their organizations. Data must be viewed as being of strategic importance and central to the decision-making processes within these organizations. Decision makers throughout an organization must be able to easily find, access, and utilize the right data at the right time to make the right decisions. In other words, data consumers must be able to shop for the data they need, knowing that it will meet their needs.

Let’s Go Shopping

For the typical consumers of everyday products, the shopping journey looks quite different from how it looked just three decades ago. Consider the journey of a sports enthusiast looking to purchase a new home entertainment system. That would likely begin with a quick web search to list all the available products in online and brick-and-mortar stores. This prospective customer would then narrow down the list by comparing the key technical features and price points, and then they would make a purchase. This customer would have the trust and confidence that the product would be delivered within the promised timeframe. Finally, they would enjoy their new entertainment system, and use it to watch big games with friends, the main use case that initiated their buying journey. This shopping experience has become so easy and commonplace that end users have developed a similar expectation for ease in other aspects of their personal and professional lives.

Shopping for Business Data

Now consider the journey of a marketing manager who needs to understand which specific marketing campaigns to invest more money in, so as to achieve set sales targets across each sales region for each demographic group of targeted customers. In a data-driven organization, this decision has to be informed (driven) by data and not just gut-level anecdotal evidence. Specific data points that may be relevant in this scenario may be drawn from historical sales, marketing campaigns, customer demographics, customer behavior, and website traffic. Based on the online shopping journey that most consumers engage in today, business users expect similar simplicity from the business systems they use to achieve specific business objectives. 

The marketing manager in this scenario would expect to be able enter a search term such as “historical sales” or “customer demographics,” and in return, the manager would receive a list of data assets relevant to their search. They would also expect to be able to leverage descriptive business metadata, usage information, and data exploration capabilities that enable them to browse the contents of the data to judge its suitability for their initiative.. These search-and-discovery features would provide users with the requisite trust and confidence that the data will fit their purposes. After choosing their data and preferred delivery method, this user’s data shopping journey would be complete. The marketing manager would then be able to use their preferred business intelligence, data analytics, or data science tools to further analyze the data and make a data-driven business decision on where to invest more marketing dollars to achieve the desired sales targets. 

Supporting the “Shopping-for-Data” Experience

The Denodo Platform, a logical data management platform powered by data virtualization, is ideally suited to facilitate the data shopping journey that business users expect. Using the Denodo Platform’s Data Catalog, a user can discover data assets by searching on descriptive metadata characteristics of the data (i.e., “historical sales”) or a Google-style keyword search based on the actual content of the data. 

After presenting users with a list of data assets that match their search criteria,  the Data Catalog provides users with additional ways to zero in on the desired data. For example, it enables them to filter the results using tags and categories, classifiers that were previously specified by a data steward for the purpose of enhancing data discoverability. Simple drag-and-drop functionality provides further data exploration capabilities that enable a user to browse the data to strengthen trust and confidence that it is suitable for its desired usage. To complete the data shopping journey, the Data Catalog specifies a variety of means by which the selected data assets can be consumed, using popular BI tools like Microsoft Power BI and Tableau, as well as a variety of APIs, such as JDBC, ODBC, REST, OData, and GraphQL.

Easy Access to the Data You Need

In order to be on the cutting edge of innovation and be in the best competitive position, the ability to make critical data-driven business decisions is a key capability of today’s most successful organizations. Decision makers need to be equipped with the right data at the right time in order to make the right business decisions. They must be provided with the capability to quickly and easily shop for the data assets that are needed to make these critical decisions. The Denodo Platform provides a wide variety of features to facilitate the data shopping journey and equip business decision makers with the data necessary to make critical business decisions that drive innovation and success.

Chris Walters
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