Oakland Group

Why do you need a data platform?

Before discussing the challenges and process of launching a data platform, let’s consider why you actually need it.

At its simplest you need a ‘platform’ to help your audience find its data and the data find its audience. Most organisations that have a desire to get more from their data will at some point require a ‘data platform’ of some sort. This is driven by the need to solve these common challenges:

• Disparate ways of working or engaging, leading to additional costs and timeframes in delivery of solutions
• Difficult to access the data that is often spread across multiple systems and needs ‘stitching together’ to yield meaningful results
• Systems are often either too complex or complicated by legacy design meaning that manually ‘stitching together’ isn’t viable
• Confusing and cumbersome processes to engage IT and technology solutions
• Inability to influence the design and service architecture driving poor customer and colleague experience
• Lack of trust across data outputs – “my dashboard is right, yours is wrong”
• Skills and knowledge leading to increased technical and resource costs
• Data is unstructured, not commonly understood and then misused
• The need to centralise ‘data platform’ capabilities where the business has ‘bought the next shiny solution’

To survive and evolve in this technology-led world, you need to be able to change and adapt at a pace like never before, and this is relentless. You need to be all over your insights, you need to be able to get to them quickly, and you need to be able to present them in the right way.

A data platform fundamentally enables you to surface those insights and make the right decisions to transform your business. Your data is the raw material you need to introduce new services and products, wow your customers, and differentiate you from your competitors.

The modern enterprise data platform will allow you to…

• Improve data governance – Done right we feel the modern data platform should reduce the data governance debt
• Accelerate speed to value – access to accurate and timely data
• Simplify your data estate, enabling more people to get access to it (democratise some may say!)
• Centralise and standardise a very complex and disparate set of data sources
• Add the governance needed to ensure the trust and accuracy and the technology handles the timeliness and completeness
• Reduce the growing cost to support IT systems, replacing with resilient, future-proof, flexible solutions
• Improve ‘developer’ experience, delivering compliance in line with industry good practice
• Leveraging the data for future change
• Simplify reporting process ensuring your data products are easy to create

The diagram below represents many data and analytics capabilities coming together to unlock value from data assets in the organisation. A data platform alone does not create value but requires an intersection of process, people, and technology conceived around the platform to provide its actual value. Foundational elements of data ownership in the business set a baseline for platform success. Marrying up good governance with a strong data platform enables the data backbone for an organisation. Finally, building processes and organisational structures to deliver compelling data products to users is the realisation of what the platform aims
to provide. Bringing these together is the basis for creating value from the data held within your organisation.

However, don’t believe all you read either – data platforms are not the holy grail to answer all your problems in one go. For example: “If you ingest all of your data into a data platform technology (Databricks, Synapse, Snowflake etc) then you have a data platform” – not true!

Only when there is sufficient governance as well as standardisation, consolidation and conformity of the data to enterprise architectural standards, will the desired benefits come to fruition. When considering your data platform, we recognise that most businesses operate from a ‘Brownfield’ state. They often already possess some of the resources and assets they need to implement a data platform. Your business case, therefore, needs to identify what you can reuse – be that people, processes, technology or partners.

But beware, even with these internal capabilities, many in-house teams struggle because they:

You can learn from these observations by asking the following questions during your business case planning phase:

To download our guide to delivering a modern cloud based platform click on the link https://weare.theoaklandgroup.co.uk/data-platform-guide

In our next blog we look at what are the challenges you might face building your data platform!