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Here’s a question: Do consumers, suppliers, and partners trust companies to do the right thing with their personal and business data? Given the high-profile data security breaches dominating the news lately, it’s unlikely. Lack of trust regarding organizations’ data practices is rising and this not only damages a brand’s reputation, it can adversely affect an organization’s bottom line.


GDPR Changes the Way We Use and Distribute Data

As new data protection laws—like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—go into effect, companies are scrambling to implement solid, repeatable data practices. That said, the work that goes into ensuring the availability and accessibility of trusted data within a company, is complicated not only by the enormous amount of data produced by enterprises daily, but also by the necessity to move that data from one repository to another.

To be clear, automation, make more informed decisions, and improve productivity. Inevitably, trusted data propels innovation and accelerates competitive advantage.


Invest in Data Catalogs

But how do you get to the point where you know you can trust your data? First step – invest in data cataloging. This used to be considered a nice-to-have; however, in the digital era, the explosion of available data sources and increase in self-service access to data have made cataloging a necessity. A data catalog discovers, tracks, organizes, and inventories all data assets and their lineage, whether the data is on-premise, in the cloud, in a data lake, or even on an edge IoT device. Data cataloging also supplies the context for data analysis initiatives—driving valuable and trustworthy results for analysts, data scientists, developers, and business decision-makers within the organization.


Link Data Catalogs to Data Architecture and Governance

That said, data catalogs won’t make much of a difference without the data architecture and governance that link the catalogs to a company’s information management plan. Data architecture is at the heart of an organization’s ability to execute its business strategy with clearly defined models, policies, and rules on how data is collected, stored, and used. Data rules and policies around security, privacy, validation, cleansing, usage, retention, and deletion are equally important. Effective architecture governance requires the documentation of business processes and the data flows within them, as well as assigning data and process owners to ensure ongoing organizational compliance.


Review and Analyze Data

As a final step, data monitoring and stewardship are vital to creating and maintaining trusted data. A company must actively and consistently review and analyze data quality, integrity, and compliance. To do this successfully, the organization must establish clear data quality metrics for specific business objectives, to ensure the impact of data quality on business outcomes can be properly assessed. Over time, good data stewardship establishes the practices and procedures that assess data for completeness, accuracy, security, accessibility, and quality.

While organizations with successful trusted data practices use data cataloging, architecture and monitoring, they also have something else in common—documenting the relationship between the data and their strategic business goals, initiatives, and outcome indicators, to help drive their data management decisions. With a clear view of how data is linked to the business strategy, organizations can more effectively prioritize data management activities and better meet their goals.

As an example of this, Alliander, a European-based utility company, demonstrates the critical nature of trusted data to their corporate operations and their customers’ well-being. With electric lines and natural gas pipelines that ensure reliable, affordable, and accessible energy to millions of customers, the company relies on trusted data to literally keep the lights on.

Good data architecture, cataloging, and stewardship, enables companies like Alliander to constantly monitor equipment operation and track data streams. Their commitment to trusted data means that if something goes wrong, a notification system can automatically trigger a call to a technician who, through geocoding, will know exactly where to find the equipment in need of repair—whether it’s a tiny relay station in the middle of a field or a power line on a city block. Upon arrival, the technician knows exactly which piece of equipment needs work, what it consists of, and the tools and materials they need for the job, including schematics on how to disassemble and repair the equipment in question. If a technician is missing a critical part, an automated request is made to the appropriate supplier to deliver it as quickly as possible.

With trusted data, utilities can be confident their customers have safe, dependable access to gas and electricity. As a bonus, customers can reduce their energy bills by 10-20% a month, through real-time access to their energy usage data.

Trusted data is a strategic asset for every company, which is why businesses need people, processes and technology to make sure their data is sound, accurate, and reliable, and can be used to maximize everything that’s good for a business, while fostering trusted relationships with consumers, suppliers, partners, and employees.

Managed and cultivated correctly, trusted data improves business outcomes and provides the foundation for innovation and transformation. Organizations around the world and across industries rely on data management solutions like SAP HANA Data Management Suite, the technology foundation that enables cleaner, more trusted data. Find out more by reading  information management and governance, watching a data preparation video, or  signing up for a data quality management trial and start delivering trusted data your business can count on —every time.

Learn more about how the SAP HANA Data Management Suite can help you combine all data types – from all sources – for more accurate decision making.