Big data has caught the eyes and ears of executives across all industries and all sizes of business. It’s not that everyone is doing big data or is even ready for it, but the topic has renewed interest in what is possible with data, be it big or small.
Business leaders know that the possibilities are endless if organizations can just get to their data – all of it, when they need it. This is why businesses should consider data virtualization, which provides access to a comprehensive, consistent view of enterprise data from disparate sources. Data virtualization offers businesses the ability to do the following:
Connect more data. Data virtualization allows business users to gain access to data from any defined data source within or outside of the organization (with appropriate credentials, of course) without having to know the technical details of where it is located or how to query it. Using defined virtual views based on common business terms, structured and unstructured data can be integrated from disparate sources, allowing data teams to get all of the data they need at once – not in pieces and parts over time.
Empower your people. By having access to the data they need when they need it, business users will not only recognize when business problems occur, but also have the tools to determine why a problem is occurring and develop solutions. The ability to create customized virtual views based on individual business needs allows IT to collaborate with business users and rapidly implement solutions for new data requests. Business users and IT are able to work together on innovative data ideas and concepts with a “Let’s try this” approach. If an idea doesn’t work, data virtualization allows the ability to fail fast and move on to the next idea. Having an easy playground where business users and IT can work together is a significant opportunity for business growth.
Respond faster. Today’s business environments require more agility than ever. Your data environment must support your need to adapt to industry and market changes rapidly. There is little to no down time for implementing new ideas. Changes can be made almost immediately, as complex coding requirements per data source are no longer needed.
Reduce risks. Risk is always top of mind for executives. The penalties and fines for inaccurate reporting and data access violations are often substantial. In worst-case scenarios, the fines may be the least of an organization’s issues, as the cost of brand damage may be more than they can bear. Having measures in place to prevent these violations is of paramount importance. By providing access to the most up-to-date data in real time, data virtualization removes the inaccuracies of reports based on batch jobs. Centralized, role-based access in the virtualized environment provides security controls to prevent users from accessing data they should not see. Data masking allows further security controls, especially with highly sensitive data such as financial, medical, or personally identifying information (PII). With the business rules and security measures applied at the centralized virtualization server, new data sources added to the virtualized environment immediately comply, allowing for instant, secure scalability.
Make better decisions. Penalties and fines are not the only risks organizations face. Decisions based on inaccurate data can often take organizations down the wrong path quickly. Data virtualization allows for better business decisions by providing an environment of more complete, timely, and quality information.
- Complete information: By providing an environment in which IT can integrate data from virtually any data source without significant and costly technical projects, data virtualization offers the business a comprehensive view of enterprise data that allows for meaningful and accurate business decisions. The fully integrated data environment takes the guesswork, hunches, and headaches out of associating disparate reports. Business leaders are able to make faster decisions and with appreciably more confidence.
- Timely information: Business decisions that are based on latent data can be risky at best for an organization. By providing key decision makers with data that is as real time as their query, data virtualization provides the assurance that their actions and decisions are based on current data.
- Quality information: Business needs, not IT specifications or data models, define virtualized views. The results of the queries are meaningful and of high value for the business user because the information is specifically what they asked for and does not require any additional manipulation to “make the data work” for them.
Data virtualization is not your daddy’s data integration. The ability to integrate data from anywhere at any time is simply something traditional ETL could not give us. The types of data sources that can be integrated into a virtualized environment are essentially limitless and, because you can get to all of your data when you need it, the business possibilities are virtually endless. Pun intended.
Anne Buff is a SAS Best Practices Thought Leader specializing in data integration, master data management, and team building. In this role, she leverages her 15 years of training experience to lead best-practices workshops and facilitate intra-team dialogues in a fun and engaging way. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe to Data Informed for the latest information and news on big data and analytics for the enterprise.