Companies have always exchanged data, inside and outside their organizations, to facilitate business interactions and decision. Much of it has been financial or customer data, often of a transactional type.

A change is underway though. Companies feel they need new types and scopes of data to make decisions or facilitate interactions between customers and partners. This recognized need for reliable and secure means of exchanging data within and between companies is fueling new developments in data management. 

Three aspects of data management have taken on new importance in light of this — the ability to find data, the importance of data governance and security, and the potential of automation.

These issues were front and center at Informatica World 2016, held in San Francisco from May 23-26. 

Accelerated Data Demands

When speaking with Informatica customers, the same themes popped up over and over: Knowledge workers of all stripes are asking for — demanding, actually — access to data to help make decisions. 

Unfortunately, just finding data posed difficulties. Data was kept in a variety of data stores, based on applications, geography and type of data. It often takes weeks for someone in IT to pull the data and build a static report for business users. 

That’s much too slow for today’s business climate. Customers consistently expressed the need to get new data daily or even in real-time, rather than the more typical weekly reports.

The Heart of Data Management

This is why Informatica's Live Data Map technology excited many of its customers. The company intends the software to form the beating heart of a company’s data management. It provides a catalog of data and knowledge graph of data relationships throughout the organization, enabling knowledge workers to find and access whatever data they need and have permissions to use. 

Dynamic Data Management

The most interesting thing about the Live Data Map is that it is dynamic — that’s the live part. Most data catalogs are static constructs. Informatica designed Live Data Map to update as more data, and data relationships and usage information become available. This capability will only grow in importance as rapidly changing data from the Internet of Things becomes part of the usual corporate data set.

Data Access With Security

Access without security is worse than no access — that theme came up frequently amongst Informatica customers. 

Not only is it important to have policies in place that restrict or grant access to data — or even the ability to see that the data exists — but active methods of detecting unanticipated data access or change. 

Customers expressed less concern about data being accessed from outside the company — they expected their experienced network and server management teams and software to take care of that. The inside threat or mistake caused more worry. Those worries were what generated so much interest in the Secure@Source product demonstration. 

Secure@Source actively monitors and manages the security of individual data elements for high risk events. By looking at data itself, its context, and usage rather than just pathways to data, Secure@Source aims to provide the type of security that makes exchanging and providing access to data a less frightening proposition. 

Machine Learning to Assist Data Management

Machine learning generated the most excitement of any topic. It holds great potential to help users find, access and secure data, especially within large organizations. 

Companies have so much data under management at this point that human intervention is an inhibitor to making it available, secure and clean. Customers clearly saw the promise of using machine learning to identify data, catalog it, recommend and apply controls such as data masking, and monitor data for unwanted events in a more automated manner. 

At the moment, this is still only a promise but it’s only a matter of time before it is a feature of most data management products.

As data-driven decision making become the norm, data management will become an even more important part of every company’s IT landscape. Whether exchanging data within a company or between companies, the need to make data management easier, safer and more automated is obviously top of mind for all types and sizes of enterprises. Thankfully, new tools are emerging that are making this a reality.

Title image Jill Heyer