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Unlocking enterprise collaboration with cloud-based data warehouses

Mon 24 Jun 2019 | Simon Field

Using cloud technologies to store and share data fuels collaboration and communication, writes Simon Field, EMEA CTO at Snowflake

Technology innovation combined with globalisation has created a business ecosystem, no longer bound by location or time. More than ever, people are seamlessly connecting through work collaboration tools such as Slack and Microsoft Office 365, while physical workspaces such as WeWork have helped start-ups move from the basement to open, collaborative workspaces. Technology is one of the strongest catalysts for enabling more effective and efficient ways of working. Running alongside this trend is the rising demand for information and data insights. Data sharing is fast becoming a new layer and dimension to collaboration.

Sluggish legacy technology, particularly on-premises data warehousing and big data platforms, simply weren’t built to support the demand for real-time data access and sharing. Their architectures were designed for high performance, but for a very small set of people, internally at the company.

As self-service analytics and data science has become more common, larger groups of people have requested and gained access to the data warehouse, bringing performance to a screeching halt. In an effort to alleviate this, many companies have created data marts or even multiple data warehouses, siloing data and making it difficult to find a common source of truth within the organisation. Sharing data with external partners or customers is nearly impossible.

Opening data doors with the cloud

Thanks to the power of cloud-built data warehouses, businesses are now better equipped to tap into real-time data, instantaneously. Through cloud technologies, all parties including suppliers, partners, end-users, and internal divisions can have full visibility of data, boosting collaboration and the ability to react promptly to any changes in the market and customers. Ultimately, businesses can continue offering the best possible services.

With a large multinational company for example, often there are various business units and employees based across the world, making the idea of collaboration difficult. Modern data sharing, based on the power and ubiquity of the cloud, is helping bring these units closer together by making data accessible to everyone from junior to the board, enabling an open forum of discussion powered by data. Rather than relying on the manual process of downloading data into excel files and sharing via email, people are easily sharing data sets in real-time by using cloud infrastructures.

“One of the biggest hurdles in the quest towards data sharing is due to the legacy software/hardware systems and infrastructure in place for many organisations”

Having manual methods to understanding and sharing data is time-intensive and often insecure, especially if these files are in unstructured or semi-structured JSON files. Any delays to data insight can be a huge barrier towards the collaboration and communication between teams.

This would be particularly detrimental if a problem or crisis arises. In the centre of a health crisis or emergency, major communication is required between different parties and time is crucial – whether that’s health professionals, non-profits, aid workers and governmental bodies. Data holds the nuggets of information that serve to better understand a situation, condition or those vulnerable, and can even hold the very solution for solving the problem.

Exemplifying this, Parkinson’s UK has recently tapped into the power of cloud-built data warehousing to better understand Parkinson’s and those suffering from it. The UK charity is now sharing relevant data with research institutions and pharmaceutical companies in real-time, to better treat those with the condition and communicate with relevant parties faster than ever before.

The results are positive, but it’s far from smooth sailing and there are challenges ahead. Despite the benefits of cloud data sharing, only five per cent of enterprises are “very effective” at implementing modern data sharing, while 67 percent want to move more towards this approach, according to research from Harvard Business Review.

Path to adoption

It’s unsurprising that one of the biggest hurdles in the quest towards data sharing is due to the legacy software/hardware systems and infrastructure in place for many organisations. While technology is a huge enabler for collaboration, it can similarly be the stumbling block for those who fail to adopt fresh new technologies that can capitalise on data sharing models.

As more people become aware of the benefits of open data sharing systems powered by cloud, we’ll see it become the beating heart of collaboration for organisations of all sizes. Ultimately, only through fast access to data and an open network to discuss these insights can true progress in collaboration be achieved.

Experts featured:

Simon Field



data databases digital transformation
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