Data Democracy in Enterprises: Its Promises and Challenges

Data democratization is the process through which an organization’s data is made available to all the employees within an organization. Because of data democratization, employees with non-technical backgrounds can collect and analyze the data themselves and learn how it works without the supervision of technical staff.  

In this blog, we will learn what data democracy in an enterprise means, its advantages, and the key challenges usually faced in reaching data democracy within an organization.  

Three Key Contributors of Data Democratization 

Data democracy is a framework that advocates initiatives that make data available to everyone in an organization. Ensuring data accessibility for users is a   task in data democratization.  There are three main components of data democratization that play a key role in making data accessible for users: 

  1. Share Data: The first component of data democratization is sharing data. This means ensuring access to data to a wider range of people. This results in informed decisions that are data-driven. It also facilitates collaboration between teams and individuals to unlock insights that may not be apparent otherwise. Finally, it also drives innovation as people find new opportunities to solve problems  
  2. Share Data Skills: The second component of data democracy is sharing data skills.  It is essential to data democracy because it gives people the necessary data literacy and skills to get insights from the data. It also enables them to effectively understand the data and communicate with others with the help of data. Also, sharing data skills is critical to ensure the ethical use of data, such as data security and privacy. 
  3. Share Data Responsibility: Sharing data responsibility is another critical element of data democracy. It is related to the fair use of data in an ethical and transparent manner. It states that all the stakeholders are responsible for data protection and security. In this manner, all the levels in the data hierarchy are to ensure data auditing, security compliance, and fair use of data. 


Figure 1: Three Pillars of Data Democracy 

Benefits of Data Democratization 

Data democratization has many benefits for an organization. It guarantees broader and easier access to data for everyone in the organization and enhances data literacy among the employees regardless of their technical background and knowledge. As a result, all the employees know how to converse in the data language, and everyone can contribute to the data-driven business culture. Data democratization forms the basis of better-equipped employees as it lays the foundation of self-service analytics. According to the latest research, data democratization within the organization better data literacy, empowerment of a broader range of employees, market awareness, better customer service, enhanced collaboration, and added value of employees. Hence, incorporating data democratization techniques into the business is the need of the hour, and organizations must know how to do it correctly. 


Figure 2: Advantages of Data Democracy for Organizations 

Challenges in Achieving Data Democratization 

Although the benefits of data democratization are unquestionable, there are challenges in implementing this process. Some of the challenges in the implementation of data democracy across an organization are: 

Data in Silos 

Data Silos are unintegrated repositories of data within an enterprise. They are one of the most prevalent challenges in democratizing data. The presence of data in silos hinders the discovery and usability of data throughout the organization. Therefore, enterprises need to invest in building data solutions based on single-source-of-truth architecture. 

Legacy Systems 

Inflexibility in legacy data systems is also a challenge in achieving data democracy. Outdated and conventional systems for data handling and analysis are generally inflexible to implement self-service Business Intelligence (BI). Also, these legacy systems hinder the democratization process by not allowing the liberating of the data. Hence, managing the legacy systems for a better data flow is crucial to data democratization. 

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Data Literacy Challenges among Employees 

Data literacy challenges also hinder data democratization. Employees with limited or no technical knowledge about the use of data are ineligible to access data. However, this is also why data should be made available across the organization, i.e., to enhance data awareness and literacy among employees. Careful data release and better supervision can ensure data democratization and prevent poor data management while ensuring maximum data usability for all employees.  

Data Security and Integrity Concerns 

There is a misconception that the higher the access to data, the greater the data security risk. However, this does not have to be the case. Data democratization does not mean unregulated access to data. It ensures the proactive application of data security and privacy on upstream processes, thus reducing the probability of data leaks or security breaches. Once the data democratization process is initiated, sensitive data is tagged and identified, and relevant compliance actions can be taken to ensure data security.  


Data democratization has many uses ranging from self-service BI to initiative-taking data security strategies. However, there are some concerns associated with data democracy adoption ranging from legacy systems to data literacy. Nonetheless, organizations must try to democratize their data to develop a more data-driven culture. 


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