Data Modeling: The First Step in Digital Transformation

The Internet of Things, self-service, social media, Big Data … Digital transformation is a fact of life. Look at Airbnb, Netflix and Uber, three companies that have built successful digital brands. They realized that more data equals more opportunity – if you know how to harness it. Now the C-suite, including the CDO, is looking seriously at both their approach to data management and business operations because they’ve seen the correlation between business-focused data management – business alignment first, followed by technology and infrastructure – and growth.

When you treat data as a strategic asset, you don’t just realize a return on investment but a return on opportunity, which increases significantly when you bring that data to the business and make it easy to access. According to Forbes, a typical Fortune 1000 company could realize $65 million in additional net income with access to just 10 percent more of its data. Whether your organization is a startup with a clean data slate or a more traditional brick-and-mortar company with entrenched legacy systems, you can – and must – capitalize on the opportunities data presents if you want to compete for relevance.


Unlocking the Value of Data


The data model is where business and data align. An enterprise that wants to unlock the value of its data requires proper modeling and then the ability to share that information with both technical and business stakeholders. If done correctly, data modeling supports today’s data initiative plus the program of tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and at a much lower cost every time you iterate and innovate against that data model to bring value to a specific initiative. And by opening the model so it can be understood by the appropriate roles in their respective terms, trust in the data grows. When you trust the data, you use the data, which leads to efficiencies and lowers costs in addition to new opportunities.

Digital transformation is both a huge opportunity and massive challenge. But what’s the hardest part of any job? Getting started, so the first step in becoming a data-driven enterprise is data modeling because you can’t manage what you can’t see – much less overcome market challenges or accomplish your business objectives. You need a blueprint, a detailed visual representation of your databases within the many different contexts for the many different stakeholders with different perspectives who will be working with your data.


Unified View of Data


But data comes in a variety of formats from a variety of sources. While traditionally most data fell under the structured label, today’s click streams, social media and other forms of unstructured data make management more messy and difficult when taking a more data-centric approach to operations. Then there’s the issue of storage. Perhaps you still use onsite databases, or maybe you’ve moved to the cloud – or you might have a hybrid data architecture. Regardless of form or location, you still need to see all your data to analyze it and make decisions that move your organization toward its desired outcomes.

By creating a unified view of any data – structured or unstructured – from anywhere– within your walls or in the cloud – you’ll have a centralized, accurate model of your data assets. Such an integrated, graphical documentation tool enables your stakeholders to see your business-critical information regardless of where it sits and relate to it from their perspectives to:

  • Discover, standardize and document existing data sources for visualization and analysis
  • Graphically design and deploy high-quality data sources across disparate platforms
  • Visually compare, analyze and synchronize data models with deployed data assets
  • Govern data modeling teams, processes, portfolios and lifecycle
  • Author and integrate active data governance constructs, metadata configurations and stakeholder feedback
  • Enable self-service data model exploration, visualization, analysis and collaboration

If you want to be more data-centric for competitive differentiation and growth, you can’t rely on a few canned reports or just go with your gut and then look for the data to justify it. Being data-driven means making data readily available and easy to use across the organization so it becomes an inherent, trusted part of the decision-making process.


Digital Transformation Starts with Data Modeling


Data modeling provides the central hub for enterprise data that breaks down silos, enhances quality and governance, and connects stakeholders for greater data fluency, accountability and collaboration. It’s where digital transformation starts, the first step in redefining business, markets and customer relationships.

To learn more about data modeling and/or other data management solutions for managing data-driven change that leads to greater productivity, compliance and profitability, please visit or email us at [email protected].


By Danny Sandwell:

Danny Sandwell is an IT industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience. As a senior product marketing manager for erwin, Inc., he is responsible for the development and delivery of the company’s data modeling solutions to meet evolving customer needs. During Danny’s 16 years with the company, he also has worked in presales consulting, business development and business strategy roles – all giving him deep insight into a broad range of issues facing organizations as they plan, develop and manage their data architectures. His goal is to help enterprises unlock the value of their data assets to produce results against strategic business objectives.













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