Investing In Trusted Data

Alison Biggan

Here’s a question: Do consumers, suppliers, and partners trust companies to do the right thing with their personal and business data? Given the high-profile data security breaches dominating the news lately, it’s unlikely. Lack of trust regarding organizations’ data practices is rising. This not only damages a brand’s reputation; it can adversely affect an organization’s bottom line.

GDPR changes the way we use and distribute data

As new data-protection laws – like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – take effect, companies are scrambling to implement solid, repeatable data practices. That said, the work that goes into ensuring the availability and accessibility of trusted data within a company is complicated not only by the enormous amount of data produced by enterprises daily but also by the necessity to move that data from one repository to another.

To be clear, trusted data is clean, secure, accurate, and organized, with a well-defined origin and clear access guidelines. It provides reliable information that enables businesses to improve processes, streamline automation, make more informed decisions, and improve productivity. Inevitably, trusted data propels innovation and accelerates competitive advantage.

Invest in data catalogs

But how do you get to the point where you know you can trust your data? First step: invest in data cataloging. This used to be considered a nice-to-have; however, in the digital era, the explosion of available data sources and increase in self-service access to data have made cataloging a necessity. A data catalog discovers, tracks, organizes, and inventories all data assets and their lineage, whether the data is on-premises, in the cloud, in a data lake, or even on an edge IoT device. Data cataloging also supplies the context for data analysis initiatives – driving valuable and trustworthy results for analysts, data scientists, developers, and business decision-makers within the organization.

Link data catalogs to data architecture and governance

That said, data catalogs won’t make much of a difference without the data architecture and governance that link the catalogs to a company’s information management plan. Data architecture is at the heart of an organization’s ability to execute its business strategy with clearly defined models, policies, and rules on how data is collected, stored, and used. Data rules and policies around security, privacy, validation, cleansing, usage, retention, and deletion are equally important. Effective architecture governance requires the documentation of business processes and the data flows within them, as well as assigning data and process owners to ensure ongoing organizational compliance.

Review and analyze data

As a final step, data monitoring and stewardship are vital to creating and maintaining trusted data. A company must actively and consistently review and analyze data quality, integrity, and compliance. To do this successfully, the organization must establish clear data-quality metrics for specific business objectives to ensure that the impact of data quality on business outcomes can be properly assessed. Over time, good data stewardship establishes the practices and procedures that assess data for completeness, accuracy, security, accessibility, and quality.

While organizations with successful trusted-data practices use data cataloging, architecture, and monitoring, they also have something else in common: documenting the relationship between the data and their strategic business goals, initiatives, and outcome indicators. With a clear view of how data is linked to the business strategy, organizations can more effectively make data-management decisions, prioritize data-management activities, and better meet their goals.

As an example of this, Alliander, a European-based utility company, demonstrates the critical nature of trusted data to its corporate operations and customers’ well-being. With electric lines and natural gas pipelines that ensure reliable, affordable, and accessible energy to millions of customers, the company relies on trusted data to literally keep the lights on.

Good data architecture, cataloging, and stewardship enable companies like Alliander to constantly monitor equipment operations and track data streams. This commitment to trusted data means that if something goes wrong, a notification system can automatically trigger a call to a technician. Through geocoding, the technician will know exactly where to find the equipment in need of repair – whether it’s a tiny relay station in the middle of a field or a power line on a city block. Upon arrival, the technician knows exactly which piece of equipment needs work, what it consists of, and the tools and materials needed for the job, including schematics on how to disassemble and repair the equipment. If the technician is missing a critical part, an automated request is made to the appropriate supplier.

With trusted data, utilities can be confident that their customers have safe, dependable access to gas and electricity. As a bonus, customers can reduce their energy bills by 10%-20% a month through real-time access to their energy usage data.

Use data as a strategic asset

Trusted data is a strategic asset for every company, which is why businesses need people, processes, and technology to make sure their data is sound, accurate, and reliable. Trusted data can be used to maximize everything that’s good for a business while fostering trusted relationships with consumers, suppliers, partners, and employees.

Managed and cultivated correctly, trusted data improves business outcomes and provides the foundation for innovation and transformation.

Organizations around the world and across industries rely on data management solutions like SAP HANA Data Management Suite, the technology foundation that enables cleaner, more trusted data. Find out more by reading information management and governance, watching a data preparation video, or signing up for a data quality–management trial. Learn more about SAP HANA Data Management Suite and its capabilities and start delivering trusted data your business can count on – every time.


Alison Biggan

About Alison Biggan

Alison Biggan is the chief product marketing officer at SAP. In this role, Alison leads the team responsible for product and solution marketing across all topics and technologies. This includes product launches and campaigns; product communications, core product messaging, and competitive differentiation; as well as go-to-market strategy. Alison and her team enable people and organizations on their path to becoming intelligent enterprises with modern technology delivered through simple and powerful tools that help them drive more and greater innovation. Alison joined SAP in 2007 through its acquisition of Business Objects, and has held global leadership roles in the platform business since 2010, including playing an instrumental role in the introduction and growth of SAP HANA. She began her career in sports marketing and sponsorship sales with the Vancouver Canuck Foundation and PGA Tour. Moving to the high-tech industry, Alison joined Crystal Decisions in 2001. The company was later acquired by Business Objects in 2003. She has held a variety of senior marketing, solution management, and go-to-market roles with SAP, Business Objects, Sophos, and Crystal Decisions. Alison attended the University of British Columbia and continues to live in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and two children.