In a previous post, we had an introduction to the data fabric concept and architecture. Renato covered the topic perfectly and outlined the benefits and why should you embrace implementing it into your business. It might seem like a new buzzword, but in earnest, it shifts the trends in data analytics and data management.
But, let’s recap what data fabric is.
Gartner defines data fabric as an emerging data management design that enables augmented data integration and sharing across heterogeneous data sources and emerging data management design for attaining flexible, reusable, and augmented data integration pipelines, services, and semantics. A data fabric supports both operational and analytics use cases delivered across multiple deployment and orchestration platforms and processes.
Or as Renato mentioned, it’s a data architecture that integrates a set of technologies and services designed to achieve the ultimate objective of data democratization and self-service across the enterprise.
Simply said, data fabrics are systems that allow for data to move seamlessly around different parts or applications. If we want to get general and even simpler, data fabric is just that – a fabric that is woven and structured from threads connected into one cohesive entity. Just as threads connect, the same way data systems, applications, and architecture, are all interlaced together to ensure smoother and unobstructed data flow, without the need to have one centralized data repository.
Let’s track what your business gains
Where does the value kick in? Well, anything that ensures quicker operations and data flow is bound to bring some major benefits. If everything moves faster it means it’s more cost-effective. But it also means that people inside the company can do their work more efficiently and in less time. If that in itself isn’t attractive, data fabric brings loads of other benefits. There is a reason why, recently, data fabrics gained even more popularity.
In the previous post, we concluded that data fabric brings these benefits:
- Accelerate time to value by efficiently giving the right data to the right people
- Reduce infrastructure and storage costs due to data virtualization
- Focus time on analyzing rather than preparing data
- Increase compliance and security due to its centralization
- Gain more accurate insights due to improved data quality
But, we’re going to expand a bit and turn our focus on perhaps more of a business end of a specter.
Improved data access and integration
If you get the gist of data fabric, you know that through data virtualization and data catalogs, it provides an overview of the whole data environment. It acts as an augmented layer over each data source and storage and gives access to data without the need to move data from one point to the other. By giving all-around access to information, we can say that data fabrics improve and enhance data democratization. Non-technical personnel can now work with data in real time and avoid waiting for data teams to provide data back to them.
This way companies can shorten the time to get the right data to the right people. Data catalogs help in giving the information where they can find certain data, so they can far more easily navigate such environments. One great thing about data fabrics is that any change in data is automatically registered and handled. Data fabrics kind of learn and adapt to changes, and, let’s say, sort new information where it belongs.
With such a high level of accessibility and integration across the whole company, there is increased knowledge among employees. Their expertise and skills rise, their confidence increases, and they can feel more comfortable making data-based decisions. If you can access data at any point, you can react more quickly to changes and minimize or even negate negative effects.
As we said before, data fabrics are agile and non-rigid. As data environments evolve, data fabrics follow suit and learn new changes to which they adapt. If you are familiar with the term data agility, then you surely know what that entails. Fast and efficient data movement removes the obstacles of rigid or siloed data, while simultaneously providing better control. As established, data fabrics provide an additional layer of flexibility where each data point is connected and can travel across applications or components without obstacles.
But, in terms of business value, agility is not only a description of data but the agility of employees and business processes or operations. People using and working with data become more agile to its changes and meaning. With data democratization in tow, data becomes a great asset utilized by everyone. This is where you don’t have to wait a long time to get to information, but rather you can access it instantly. Your workflow instantly changes with this. Your tasks get more easily achievable and accurate.
It’s no surprise that with increased agility comes better and faster decision-making. They go hand in hand. Data fabrics also make way for better business insights and a single source of truth. A 360-degree view of data results in faster value delivery, whether we talk about operational changes or even deploying new products or services to the market.
With an unobstructed data flow comes a flexible approach to making decisions. You can imagine data fabric as interlaced highways and speed lanes where you can go faster and more smoothly than on regular roads. There are no complex intersections with stoplights that halt your progress. In work, you get instant input, analyze it, and drive decisions.
Increased efficiency and innovation momentum
Okay, now that we have established that data fabrics bring complete overview and access to data, we can safely say that they can increase efficiency and stimulate innovations. Simple as that. Before, employees or stakeholders were at a standstill because of the lack of available information. Even if you wanted to analyze or access certain data sets that could give you insights into products or customers, there was sort of a bureaucratic stasis. An augmented layer for data removes that.
Data fabrics are also designed for and can act as stimulants for AI and machine learning. These innovations are driving the market right now, and using them internally can only maximize your company, product, or service value. Speeding up the innovation momentum gives leverage and competitive advantage on the market, and even marks you as an early innovator.
Enhanced data security and governance
It wouldn’t be the real world without some major threats – data security threats in fact. Personal or company data has gained so much value that, of course, there are entities trying to misuse it. It takes a lot of effort in keeping such information safe. Many forget that the value of your business is also forged by the level of data security you provide. Even the smallest mishap can cause your value to plummet.
With data in one place, you can see who and how uses it across the organization. This way you can answer faster and make sure that unauthorized people can’t access certain parts of your data anymore. You can also establish clear rules for data management and authorization levels.
Improved customer experience
With such a better data overview and accessibility, each organization’s department can get insights into customer behavior. From how they use products or services, CRM, their opinion on your company or brands, satisfaction scores to social media interactions, these are all points where you can gather information and make conclusions. Data fabric connects all these points of contact in one centralized place where you can analyze data and create data stories.
So many valuable insights can come from data, but previous blocks and obstacles made that hard to obtain. If you look at everything that was previously explained in this post, it becomes clear how data fabric improves ways of creating high-level customer experience and satisfaction. Knowing your customer and their pain points it’s what uplifts your market status and value.
What’s the verdict?
Data fabrics are a significant investment. There are ready-made data fabric tools on the market made for this purpose. You can even try to develop your framework, but it could take time and a lot of effort. In the next blog post, Renato will go through some of the vendor options and technical details of the complexity of data fabric integration. And this post is not one to be missed.
In the meantime, weigh the benefits versus costs of data fabric in your organization. Absolutely, we can say that for companies with complex data structures and sources or huge amounts of data, this will come as a necessity. Data fabric sort of started as a buzzword and a hot new trend in data management, but it slowly proved its value. And we can expect its popularity to grow. Just be wary of the fact that data fabric might not work for everyone. But if the ultimate goal for a company is to become data-driven, then this is the road to take.