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Bridging the IT and Business Users Gap

It is already a given at this point how powerful data warehouses are in storing, analyzing, and reporting large volumes of data from various sources. However, building and maintaining a data warehouse is not enough to ensure its effectiveness. More importantly, businesses also need to measure and improve the satisfaction and adoption of the users within the organization, who are the ultimate consumers and beneficiaries of the data warehouse.


However, many businesses are struggling with how disconnected their organizations are in such a way that there is a divide between those managing the data which the IT department is doing, and those consuming the data which are the different end users within the organization. Data that is intrinsically valuable has become hard to find and use because of this disconnect.


Understanding the nature of the gap


In any organization, there will always be distinct differences in the way business executives and IT professionals think about their company’s data. The truth of the matter is that both groups ultimately want to help and see the business succeed, but they are conveying these desires in distinct “languages” that are unintelligible to each other.


On the one side, there is the business side which thinks in terms of entities and relationships, from their relationships to their customers who place orders for their products that are made of parts that come from suppliers, and so on. It is a straightforward relationship governed by rules that ensure order in the process established by the business. On the other side is IT which while also thinking in terms of entities and relationships but has mapped them in complex, underlying storage systems because it better understands the data processing flow and governance of the individual systems.


These diverging ideas on entities and relationships in terms of data storage are further complicated by a lack of communication, which produces further confusion between both sides and creates silos more effectively.


How to address the gap


Given the problems that have contributed to this widening gap between business and IT, the question now is how to narrow it to such a level that there is at least a basic level of understanding and cooperation between the two sides. There are at least four strategies that can be utilized to achieve this goal.


Identify the users and understand their needs


In order to break down the silos in the organization, it is important to first identify those who will be using the data warehouse and find out what their need are and what they expect from it. Organizations can make use of interviews, surveys, and other documentation methods to gather information about their roles, responsibilities, interests, pain points, and data requirements. Based on this information, stakeholders can be grouped and prioritized according to their importance, influence, and urgency, and enable organizations to align specific strategies and plans with the expectations of specific groups.


Foster communication channels


Every time there is a development in the data warehouse like new tools or processes being introduced, it is critical to communicate and educate users about the benefits, features, and functions of these user improvements at all available communication channels within the organization. various channels, such as newsletters, reports, dashboards, meetings, or feedback sessions, to keep them informed, engaged, and satisfied with the data warehouse's progress, performance, and value. More importantly, these channels should encourage them to provide feedback and suggestions for further improvements.


Promote data literacy


Users should also be provided with the necessary documentation, training, and support to help them gain knowledge about the data warehouse and be able to use it effectively and efficiently. Training and one-on-one sessions should also be available to help build user understanding and appreciation of the data warehouse.


Make full use of data products


Given the difference in knowledge and priorities of business and IT, having a tool or service that would act as a bridge to narrow the knowledge and priority gap between the two sides is beneficial. The data product serves as such a bridge, offering technical knowledge and insights provided by IT in a language that resonates with business users, enabling them to derive insights without the need for technical expertise. Moreover, it presents an opportunity towards seamless collaboration and empowerment of users on both sides to derive valuable insights towards greater efficiency and effectiveness in a unified and self-contained solution.


The journey toward a successful data warehouse implementation that is widely adopted and accepted by both business and IT involves addressing both technical and business-oriented hurdles. By fostering collaboration, promoting data literacy, and implementing user-friendly technologies, organizations can navigate these challenges effectively.

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