To do that, an organisation requires a level of maturity that only comes when people right across the business — from top to bottom — understand the importance of data architecture and how it contributes to overall effective data governance.

This can be easier said than done. But, with the right persuasion tactics and practical insights, IT leaders can help drive organisations toward strategic business goals.

Step one: get clear on the importance of data architecture

Good data architecture allows everyone in your organisation access to relevant data that they can use to make informed decisions. It is also necessary infrastructure to support data warehousing, presents opportunities to integrate disparate data sources efficiently and fosters a working environment that promotes collaboration.

Step two: understand key forces driving change in data architecture

  • Rapid and accelerating data growth. These days, companies rely on an ever-increasing number of applications to support their daily operations. As a result, they’re generating and collecting more data faster than ever before. The growth of big data is driving the development of new data indexing, cleaning and analysis tools that can speed up the insight generation process and make it easier for organisations to draw insights from ever-expanding data streams.
  • Global data regulation. A sharp upswing in new data security, privacy and sovereignty regulations around the world creates new challenges and data governance requirements for enterprise organisations. To maintain compliance, organisations must adapt their data architecture to ensure centralised control and governance of all organisational data.
  • Competition driving faster time-to-insights. The ability to transform data into insights, and insights into action, is a competitive advantage for the modern, data-driven organisation. Accelerating time to insights requires the adoption of enterprise data architecture and technology that streamline the data life cycle and reduce latency between data creation and analysis.

Step three: demonstrate how data architecture enables data-driven success

By definition, data architecture is a technical process, but modern approaches aim to close the gap between strategic business goals and technology. Why should the business care about data architecture? Because while data can be an asset, it can also quickly become a costly liability.

That’s where empowering people to realise the true value of formal data architecture, in a way that makes sense to their roles and KPIs, will cultivate engagement and buy-in — and ultimately strengthen data governance and strategy.

How do you do that? Show them what’s at stake.

What would the business gain from a data architecture?

  • Strong data strategy. A strong data strategy needs to be underpinned by flexible and scalable data architecture that aligns with company strategies, compliance requirements, business rules, capability and IT standards reflecting the current and the future states.
  • Improved communication and collaboration. A typical organisation has various stakeholders with different roles, needs, priorities and constraints across multiple lines of business, which often lead to data silos. So, when stakeholders with competing needs come together, it is critical to have data architecture that can provide a common language for improved communication, collaboration and data literacy.
  • Optimal information flows. As data architecture provides a holistic view of the data flows in the enterprise, it makes opportunities for creating lean and optimal information flows by eliminating complexity, reusing data and minimising data and system redundancy. This ultimately results in reduced cost, minimised risk and faster time to market for products and services.

What would a business lose by not having a data architecture?

  • Undefined purpose. Without good data architecture, companies often collect data without a clear business objective, resulting in increased costs and missed business opportunities. While the time and effort to acquire, store and secure data is significant, the opportunity cost of not using the data collected in today’s digital world is massive.
  • Poor compliance with laws, rules and ethics. Data architecture provides solutions to address compliance with laws, business rules, industry standards and even ethics. With the rise of cybercrime and data breaches, companies today are faced with the task of ensuring strong data security and privacy.
  • Increased costs. Without enterprise-level data architecture, companies will potentially spend unnecessary time and effort maintaining redundant data in the data lifecycle, including duplicate customers, products and assets, among other things.

Data architecture: a key enabler to becoming truly data-driven

When it comes to data architecture, the overriding theme is that it’s paramount. A clear and simple view of the components that make up your organisation’s technical assets helps communicate to all stakeholders how your systems, people and processes work together. It also informs any roadmaps moving forward to ensure any new technology investments are future-proofed.

To become a data driven organisation, there are many components – Architecture, Engineering, Warehousing, and Analytics — that, when working in harmony, improve performance outcomes for organisations.

Read our other blogs in the Data series:

Aligning data strategy & action: Five ways to make sure your data strategy will deliver

Data engineering: ELT — a faster, more fluid data platform

Harnessing data with visualisation

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