The days of IT departments having absolute control over business data are long gone. Marketing, operations, and other line-of-business leaders need early insights from up-to-date data to quickly respond to opportunities and disruptions.
However, in many organizations, the old IT regime has been replaced by a power struggle between those who need access to data for analysis and those charged with protecting that data.
On one side are business managers and data analysts who need the information. On the other are security and risk managers trying to protect data and ensure compliance with rules such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Unfortunately, this power struggle often has no winner. For example, analysts may be denied access to data or don’t receive it quickly enough for their needs because risk managers don’t have access to a solution they feel confident will protect their assets when shared.
Data Republic offers an answer to this no-win impasse: Senate, our data-sharing platform that streamlines data access and analysis processes, while ensuring data governance controls are adhered to.
Avoiding Data Analysis Compromises
Senate also solves another problem caused by the power struggle: data protection techniques that can greatly reduce the usefulness of data analysis.
Most of these techniques rely solely on locking down data in some way to mitigate the risks of sharing a dataset. Common techniques include hashing or encrypting data to obfuscate sensitive information.
Another option is to remove individual records altogether by aggregating data before sharing it. For example, a customer database might be aggregated so that each record becomes a suburb or town.
However, removing or obfuscating data compromises data analysis. The greater the controls on the data itself, the less useful it becomes. The deepest insights often come from analyzing the intersection of two or more attributes, such as age and income in a customer database. But if the data has been aggregated—to a suburb or town in this example—analysis becomes less precise and useful than analysis of the full database.
Maximizing the Utility of Data
With Senate, we have built in a data governance framework that can help businesses avoid unnecessarily compromising data analysis.
Rather than relying solely on one control—the data itself—Senate offers seven governance controls. The seven controls work like a series of adjustable levers that allow businesses to better manage information disclosure risks, while maximizing the utility of data.
For example, one of Senate’s controls can limit where and how data is accessed. This is done with a Discovery Workspace—a quarantined virtual machine, where authorized users can run analytics software on the data, but the data itself never leaves the Senate platform.
Our Senate Matching service integrates with Senate to provide a powerful, secure platform for sharing datasets between two or more organizations. Importantly, matching is done by individual de-identified records, so analysts can be confident about the quality of the data matching and the data itself.
Sensitive information is protected throughout the process by a decentralized matching architecture, advanced techniques to protect customers’ personally identifiable information, and Senate’s seven governance controls.
Governance Managers and Analysts Working Together
Senate’s governance framework and other tools also help streamline data access and analysis.
In a typical scenario, an analyst creates a data project on Senate and requests permission to use a dataset from a data governance manager or dataset ‘custodian.’ The data governance manager— whose primary responsibility is typically data protection—can approve or reject the request, or negotiate the terms of how the analyst can use the dataset.
Senate’s governance controls give data governance managers the visibility and control they need to feel confident about allowing access to data. They can protect sensitive information without compromising the data for analysis.
Furthermore, data projects can be highly repeatable. Once the analyst and custodian have worked together on one project, similar future projects are likely to be much quicker and easier. The data could be re-used for different business needs or departments—or for experimentation and innovation—by spinning up new Discovery Workspaces.
In addition, Discovery Workspaces can be customized with whatever tools analysts need, including Excel, Power BI, or Tableau—and other applications can be added on request.
A Win-Win for Everyone
Using these advanced tools and Senate’s governance framework, an organization can turn a no-win power struggle between data governance managers and analysts into a win-win for all stakeholders.
Data governance managers retain full visibility and control over datasets, ensuring sensitive information always remains protected. Data analysts can deliver faster, better results for executives and managers. They can also deliver new insights from new sources of data, including other organizations via data exchanges.
Customers can benefit from better products and services resulting from those new insights, and they can be confident that their personal data is fully protected.
The organization itself becomes more innovative and responsive to disruptions and opportunities—and even more trusted by its customers.
For more details on how Senate works, see our whitepaper.