Could a data lake help feed your thirst for knowledge?
Good data management is the bedrock of good decision-making. With all of your information at your fingertips, you can make smart, evidence-led decisions that move your business forward. Without that information in hand, you can struggle to see the big picture.
Data lakes are solutions that help you consume your data in a manageable way. They are a centralized store of information, scalable and adaptable, which offer analytical and reporting options on all of your key data at the same time. They are a single shared repository of data with easy user access.
The difference between a data warehouse and a data lake
The terms ‘data warehouse’ and ‘data lake’ are often used interchangeably, but they are two different things. A data warehouse is a central store of information, just like a data lake, but is made up of structured, formatted data which has already been processed.
A data lake, on the other hand, is a pool of unprocessed and potentially unstructured raw data. This data can be analyzed, queried, and reported on in any number of ways. A data lake offers flexibility and agility in reporting because there are no pre-set conditions on how the data can be viewed or used.
We’ve previously looked at how data integration is key to project management success, reducing data sprawl and creating efficiencies. A data lake can help address some of those integration challenges.
The benefits of a data lake
There are some key benefits to introducing a data lake to your business:
It future-proofs your information management strategy
Since a data lake stores unprocessed, native data, it essentially provides a form of future-proofing for your information management strategy. No presumptions are made about the future use of the data when creating the lake; instead, the information is simply pulled together and stored, ready for whatever your organization may need it for in the future. This cuts down on the need to go through costly or complicated re-formatting exercises further down the road.
Data is stored in its native format
Since a data lake comprises raw, unprocessed data, it can accept information from many different sources within your organization. This means you could choose to include pre-existing reports, database outputs, data logs, XML, media files, the list goes on. The critical point is that any information can be included and is therefore available for interrogation and reporting.
Data can be unstructured
The challenge of unstructured data is very real, with current research estimating that more than 80% of enterprise data is unstructured. A data lake can help you analyze and use your data with the introduction of governance, semantic consistency, and access controls, allowing you to integrate it into decision-making and meaning that you don’t lose the inherent value of that knowledge.
Real-time information is always available
There is a lot of talk in the data management world about the ‘democratization’ of data, and a data lake is one of the solutions often mentioned in discussions. As a sophisticated data management solution, a data lake offers the benefit of real-time information always being available to employees and managers, with the lake offering live, single-source data access. Permissions can be set depending on the individual user’s need, but the critical benefit is that an up-to-date central repository is available for all to utilize.
It offers excellent analytics and flexible reporting opportunities
The key benefit of harvesting all of your information together in one place is visibility of metrics across your business as well as great analytical potential. Being able to run reports based on the centralized data store means that you can easily understand current performance in any area you hold data. The alternative would be to design separate reports that pull in pre-formatted information from other enterprise systems. As with the first key benefit discussed, the ability to report on and interrogate the unstructured data gives the ability to gain access to the information you need to make decisions.
The benefits of introducing a data lake are clear, with the promise of consolidated access to vast amounts of data drawn from any number of other databases and systems. Information becomes more easily searchable, reportable, and shareable, meaning that your organization can make decisions based on the best possible information available. A data lake can help to manage issues of data sprawl, and could help revolutionize your business.
It can be helpful to work through the creation of a data lake with qualified experts by your side. Our technology services staff have extensive experience in data management and data configuration, and can assist with everything from integration challenges to user training. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you gain control of the critical data streams across your organization.