How self-service in analytics enables compliance

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Q&A between Ulrike Bergmann and Carsten Krah

The concept of self-service in analytics is often associated with business innovation and speed of response to customer demand. But self-service can also empower and encourage individual employees to support operations in a more effective way. I caught up with Carsten Krah Senior Industry Consultant, SAS to explore his thoughts on data preparation, self-service analytics, and how these play into compliance.

What do you think are the trends driving self-service analytics?

CK: Analytics and data are more important than ever at the moment. I think quite a few things have come together all at once. There are far more user-friendly tools available, and they are much cheaper than was once the case. This has made self-service not just possible but easy. Start-ups are bringing new ideas to the market, and business users are becoming more aware and more adept at using data and analytics.

So it’s partly a matter of having the right tools, and partly being able to use them?

CK: Yes, and speed also comes into it. Business users don’t want to wait for the IT department to come up with results for them, and they now have the tools and capability to do it themselves. And perhaps it is partly a matter of IT departments being under more pressure to deliver more as well, and therefore having less time to spend helping any individual business user. IT departments cannot really provide the data, or access to it, in the timescale required.

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Have changes in regulatory requirements had an effect?

CK: Yes, I think regulations like the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and new banking requirements like BCBS239 have shown that transparency is really important. That matters for analytics as well as for data. It is going to be vital to be able to show where data come from, and what you are doing with the information. Putting data into a ‘black box’ and getting the answers out may not be enough. The same goes for Solvency II: it means that insurers really need to understand the risks, and transparency is key to that.

And of course data security is essential?

CK: Always. Good data governance is vital, and perhaps even more so with the advent of GDPR. Self-service doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want without any limitation. If I can use a metaphor, moving to self-service is a bit like the difference between ‘waiter service’ and ‘self-service buffet’. A self-service buffet is not an open invitation to diners to bring their own food, or invade the kitchen. Companies need the infrastructure to make sure that they remain in control! Self-service has to be governed carefully if it is to be successful. It is a fine balance between agility and governance, but not impossible to achieve.

What changes do you think will be necessary for companies to manage the move to self-service?

CK: All staff need to start changing their habits. It’s more important to encourage experimentation than start people worrying about having the right data. They need to be encouraged to try new things, and experiment with the data. Exploring data will give new answers. Once people start to see what is possible, they are much more ready to try analytics themselves, and explore further.

This sounds like you are saying that data quality is a secondary consideration?

CK: Good quality data is vital—garbage in, garbage out, after all. But unless they can see the benefits from analytics, business users won’t really buy into the importance of ensuring data quality. So I think they need to start using analytics first. Once users see what is possible, they will also see the importance of having the right data, and ensuring its quality in some way. And once they have bought into that idea, then they have an incentive to ensure that their own data is good, and it is no longer an ‘IT issue’ in quite the same way. I think there is a turning point in the speed/data quality balance that comes from people seeing the benefits. After that, it becomes a matter of course, which is how it should be.

Unless you can see the benefits from #analytics you won’t really buy into the importance of ensuring #dataquality. We need to start using analytics first. #compliance Click To Tweet

Seeing the move to self-service as a process of change is the key, then?

CK: Self-service is a change process. I think it requires a change in mindset and culture first and foremost, to encourage and support business users to do their own analytics. And then, business users will see the importance of having the right data.

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Ulrike Bergmann

As analytics driven decisions become more widespread, organisations are looking to improve the underlying data management, compliance with privacy regulations and agility of their analytics platform. In my role as campaign manager, I research customer needs and wants, align available tools to address these requirements and curate best practices to help improve the effectiveness of analytics for our customers’ business.

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