Data used to be locked behind corporate castles – complete with moats, towering walls, and gatekeepers, such as IT technicians or service desks. Getting access to data would require a bunch of ticket requests and rounds of back-and-forth.

Self-service data, on the other hand, democratises access to and visibility of data. Employees can “interrogate data in different ways without needing those X number of steps before,” says Ramine Tinati, Managing Director of Applied Intelligence at Accenture.

Agencies can incorporate the right tools and processes to build a self-service data culture. Ramine Tinati and Jimmy Kwang, Talend’s Regional Vice President of Sales, break down the basics of self-service data.

Build transparency and agility

When data was locked behind legacy systems and gatekeepers, errors or risks with the data would only ever be seen by one or two stakeholders, says Ramine Tinati.

With self-service data, however, access to data is democratised, he adds. “Multiple stakeholders are able to interrogate and view data, increasing its quality and transparency.” Agencies can then design better policies with the help of accurate data.

Taking a self-service approach to data also brings agility, Ramine Tinati says. Without the need to wait for IT staff to provide the relevant information, employees can issue queries and generate insights from data more quickly.

Self-service data is “business-ready for whoever is going to consume it”, says Jimmy Kwang, Talend’s Regional Vice President of Sales. “It’s not about the tools, but what business outcome needs to be achieved – and building the right processes and technology to support user’s trustable data needs.”

This agility has enabled governments to be more responsive to citizen needs, especially during Covid-19, says Ramine Tinati. Singapore’s CovTech such as SafeEntry and TraceTogether were “enabled by that self-service mechanism because many different agencies have access and visibility to everyone else’s data.”

Set clearly defined goals

To implement a self-service culture, an organisation must have a clear understanding of what outcome it wants to achieve through data, says Kwang. That would help it to know what type of data is needed.

“The self-service aspect boils down to what is it I am trying to do first. Then you know where to look for things, and how to get things.”

Agencies can be quite protective of their data, says Ramine Tinati, so it’s also important to build a culture and framework allow the safe and secure sharing of data.

“You can put as much energy and resources as you like into putting a technology in place, but unless you have the cultural adoption and the change management, and that awareness of what data actually means when it’s in a self-service mode, it’s never going to take off,” he adds.

Apply the right controls

Agencies have to do a lot of “heavy lifting” to migrate data from legacy systems, Ramine Tinati says. New standards and structures need to be created to prepare data for sharing.

Organisations must also safeguard the security and privacy of data, he adds. Privilege and access controls, for instance, must be applied at varying levels to “ensure information can be shared, but also shared at the right level.”

The next step is to get citizens engaged, Ramine Tinati says. “Once you’ve got the government making sure there’s collaboration and self-service within the government, it’s now how do you make that possible for citizens, and to build an ecosystem on top of that.”

To win the trust of citizens, governments can raise awareness on how they are circumventing risks surrounding data and demonstrate how the sharing of data will benefit them.

The ability for a layman to access and analyse data will be key for agility and transparency. With self-service data gaining momentum, the world can continue to build and enhance data-driven services.

To find out how to modernise your organisation’s data infrastructure in the cloud, download Talend‘s guide here.