Data Products: How Managing Data as a Product Accelerates Business Outcomes

“The value of data, be that yours or of others’, ultimately lies in its usefulness in achieving your strategic goals.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers, Creating Value from Data, 2019

Enterprises continue to make massive technology and resource investments into their data architecture, yet business users still can’t find, use and customize the data they want when they need it. What’s wrong with this picture? Perhaps it’s because the focus has been on organizing, securing and aggregating data rather than addressing how and why data consumers are using it. The result is that all of the data sitting in your data lakes and warehouses never gets used to its full potential. At Harbr, we call this the data value gap.

The best way to close the data value gap is to begin managing data as a product. Think of the best products you know. They are easy to find, understand and use, and they consistently deliver the value we expect. That’s because there is a person (or team) focused on making them user-friendly, high quality and easy to manage and measure. This creates a natural alignment between the product and the consumer. What if we apply this thinking to data?

What Is a Data Product?

Any data-related asset, from raw data to models, code, API key and instructions, can be combined to form a data product. That product is then packaged with the addition of a name, description, terms of use and even a price (optionally). When combined this single unit can be published, searched, used, customized, managed and measured to maximize its value.

Converting data into a ready-to-use data product completely changes the way we interact with it and allows us to scale the value created more quickly and broadly than with current approaches.

Why Data Products?

    • It starts with distributed ownership.

Unlike traditional, centralized models, data products make it easy to embrace distributed ownership. This eliminates the barriers between those who understand the data and the business stakeholders who know the data use case. It empowers domain experts as data product managers who take responsibility for quality, performance and change management. And when data products are delivered through an enterprise data exchange, you can maintain a level of central governance and control.

    • Data products build trust.

A key challenge that enterprises face when it comes to data is trust. Business users have little faith in the quality and accuracy of enterprise data. When you embrace data products, you gain the ability to curate high-quality, in-demand data and to make those products easy to find, understand and consume.

    • Expand access with simple self-service.

Data products allow non-technical users to interact with data in a user-friendly way. With a self-service, digital storefront, they can search, preview and do preliminary filtering and analysis of a data product in just a few minutes to determine whether it meets their specific requirements. This fast-tracks the acquisition of relevant data.

    • Replace one-off processes with cycles of value creation.

Data products, most often managed through an enterprise data exchange, can form the building blocks for new custom data products when blended or refined. This process is either led by an individual or by inviting multiple collaborators to co-create it. In both cases, the effort benefits an unlimited number of business stakeholders when that new data product is shared in the data exchange.

    • An ecosystem focus expands possibilities.

Managing data as a product also provides the foundation expanding data access to your extended enterprise of suppliers, partners, distributors and even customers. With policy-driven data product management, you have full control of who can view, use and export each product and an audit trail of their activity. You can also convert third-party data into data products to optimize those investments.

    • Streamline data operations.

Data products can be managed easily throughout their lifecycle. There is a consistent process for creating, publishing, customizing and delivering them. In fact, when a user subscribes to a data product through an enterprise data exchange, it is automatically delivered to their desired destination and is updated on a scheduled or event-driven basis through a completely automated data pipeline. Plus data product managers get full reporting on usage for future optimization.

Close the Data Value Gap With Data Products

Unlocking the value of data is one of the most daunting, long-term challenges for enterprises. While information is drowning in data lakes and warehouses, allocating more people and tools to the problem hasn’t gotten companies closer to delivering data-driven business outcomes with speed and scale. Now is the time to open up to new ways of thinking. Only when you improve data access and use by transforming data into products can enterprises truly make data a competitive advantage.

White Paper – Data Products: Eliminating the Data Value Gap in the Enterprise