Benjamin Doerwald is TimeXtender’s Regional Director for the DACH market. Here, he shares his insights from the TDWI Conference 2017.

Whether you attended the TDWI conference 2017 this year or just followed the topics on the media, it’s worth unpacking what went on and summarising the event’s key points. From the many conversations I had with people working across this sector, here are my three key takeways:

1. Governed self-service is a must-have
The department users are the main drivers for a high demand of self-service BI. Most businesses create a self-service environment with tools such as QlikView, Tableau or PowerBI to support the users with agile analytics.

While these tools give the users the freedom and flexibility to run analytics, it turns out that this environment also tends to quickly become difficult to administrate in an effective, recordable way. Subsets of data become multiplied from one analytic to another, while aggregations are used on various dashboards. Very often, the result is a lack of governance and compliance.

Most IT departments define themselves as gatekeepers, maintaining authorised access to data while at the same time keeping it governed and compliant. The growing demands of both flexibility and also traceability make it necessary for every part of an organisation, not just the IT department, to smarten up and adopt a transformative gatekeeper mindset towards data management.

2. Storers of data are protecting, not restricting, access for their users
By offering data in a controlled way that follows the rules, any organisation or business is taking a key step towards creating a good balance between IT-requirements and the users’ needs.

3. Now is the last chance to prepare for GDPR
It does not matter if you are operating a self-service environment that has grown organically over time or an enterprise data warehouse concept, or perhaps even both.

Whatever the system, you must be GDPR compliant on or before 25 May 2018. This is a challenge to all IT/BI departments around the globe as it means there are only about 200 working days left to prepare for and execute compliance to the new GDPR rules.

To gauge how far you have to go still, here are a few questions that will give you a speedy GDPR compliance checkup:

  • Is your BI, reporting & analytics solution fully documented?
  • Do you have full traceability of all your data in your BI and Reporting & Analytics setups?
  • Are you in control of data in both your development and test BI, reporting & analytics environments?
  • Do you manage access control to data in your BI, reporting & analytics setup? Can you document this access?

Many people at the TDWI Conference 2017 noted that either their self-service BI is not currently documented or that each BI developer documents differently. Their enterprise data warehouses are often hand-built, which leads to the same problems.

We received very positive feedback on our automated documentation of the types of data being held and the location of it. Both IT admins and BI architects liked the capability in the Discovery Hub® to do data lineage and impact. This analysis support gives you the full information about where your data comes from as well as where is it used.

You might also like: GDPR - Your running shoes are on, but do you know where to go?

Agile development – if you want it

All the discussions we had at the TDWI conference 2017 came back the current situation and how there’s a widespread discrepancy between the resources allocated to GPDR compliance and the remaining timeline to enforce it.

Such restrictive demands for a rapid development using limited developer resources and budget is nothing new but this isn’t just about working harder in the same old way. It’s about being smarter by using the tools that automate as many steps as possible, helping you to achieve your goals in less time but also with less effort.

One effect of taking this approach is that you will have created a future-proof system that will have removed the need for tiring manual documentation while at the same time giving you the full transparency that is needed for GDPR.

If you attended TDWI conference 2017 and this has left you with any unanswered questions, please get in touch and we’ll happily discuss them.

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