What Is a Data Platform?

6 minute read

snowflake data governance conversation

In an enterprise, seeing and storing data is not enough; understanding it is the key to extracting insights that can increase business value. A data platform gathers all the data harvested from various data sources, acting as a centralized hub for data integration and analysis.

What Is a Data Platform?

Companies today have massive amounts of data. The average enterprise has 348TB of data. Those that choose to become data-driven enterprises undergo an incredible transformation, increase their value, and outperform their competition. These businesses have made data and integrations a central part of their operations, creating a need for a system that can collect and connect their data from various sources for decision-making.

Enter a data platform.

Defining a Data Platform

To answer the question, “what is a data platform”, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that all the data that businesses collect is worthless unless the companies find a way to store it properly and then intelligently analyze it, making the insights available to other systems and users across the organization. Seeing and storing data is not enough; understanding it is the key to extracting insights that can positively impact a business’ bottom line.

Data platform tools bring together all the data harvested from various data sources, acting as a centralized hub for data integration and analysis. Therefore, a data platform can be defined as an integrated technology solution that makes it possible for data from various databases in an organization to be accessed, governed, and delivered to multiple users, technologies and applications for use in data-centric decision-making.

Why a Data Platform Is Important

A data platform— sometimes referred to as a big data platform or a data management platform— is essential for unlocking business value from an organization’s data. Data platforms are generally used for processing large sets of data without compromising on latency. There are several reasons why a data platform is vital in any organization. These include:

Creating scalable data solutions for your organization

Data platforms are a straightforward way for businesses to create flexible data architectures. They include scalable pipelines capable of handling different data scenarios, including batch ingestion using APIs and stream processing for high-velocity, real-time data.

Unlocking value that is trapped in data silos

Unlocking data in today’s business environments rife with unstructured data is in no way an easy undertaking. A practical and modern data platform can help you leverage more of your data (both structured and unstructured) in data silos to, among other things, strengthen your relationships with your customers and improve brand recognition in your niche.

Bringing control and governance to your data story

Without adequate data governance in data silos, users have a hard time trusting the system. As a result, they hoard data, resulting in the loss of value for the entire organization. A data management platform brings control and governance to your data story and, in the process, helps users feel safer about sharing their data.

How a Data Platform Works

So far, we have answered the question, “what is a data management platform” and why it is essential. But before you decide on building a data platform, let’s explore how data management platforms work.

Enables data stories to be told

According to Gartner, data storytelling is set to become the most common way that analytics will be consumed in the next half a decade. Data storytelling refers to the transformation of data into an easy-to-understand format to be used to make decisions. Instead of leveraging spreadsheets with graphs, numbers, and charts, data stories are narratives about those numbers. The narratives are easier for users to absorb and retain. Data platforms are designed to make data storytelling possible.

Manages and connects disparate data systems

The ultimate goal of an enterprise data platform is to deliver transformative, real-time business insights in a secure, scalable, and cost-efficient manner. An effective big data platform manages and connects disparate geographies and data systems (including multi-cloud environments) to strengthen business continuity and meet unique business requirements. Effective data management platforms unify disparate types of data housed in various data lakes and silos.

Works with systems of record to improve operations

Systems of record such as CRM and ERP systems are mission-critical, foundational sources of truth for internal programs and users in an organization. In today’s fast-paced business environments, data management platforms are designed to work with systems of record to create innovation-powered, digitally transformed operations.

snowflake data governance chart

Types of Data Platforms

Organizations have several data platform types to choose from, informed by their particular needs. These include:

Integration data platform

Integration data platforms use hundreds of data sources, combining data stored in different locations and multiple formats. This type of data management platform provides rich libraries of transformers and business intelligence tools with the capacity to process an organization’s structured and unstructured data in countless ways.

Predictive analytics data platform

These data platforms leverage machine learning and deep learning algorithms to find unique patterns in data and make future business predictions. Such platforms leverage decision trees, neural networks, and non-linear regressions to generate future insights with a notable degree of precision.

Governance data platform

In governance data platforms, data is classified and tagged automatically. The resulting metadata powers comprehensive data catalogs that are availed to users for self-service data search and discoveries. In addition, data platform governance allows users to check the sensitivity and quality of data as well as a real-time look at a specific data element’s journey through the system.

Automation data platform

An automation data platform requires little maintenance because it has an automated data ingestion and distribution system. The automated system is capable of effectively cataloging and delivering business data to its destination. An automated data platform also relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning to respond to emerging changes, repair incorrect data, and improve its ability to predict its users’ needs.

Customer data platform

As the name implies, a customer data platform (CDP) revolves around custom data. Unlike CRMs that leverage the data provided to them, CDPs provide a somewhat 360-degree view of a business’ customers because they’re optimized to compile and process all available customer data from multiple sources, including social media, CRMs, digital ads, websites, eCommerce platforms, emails, etc.

Data Platform Benefits

The following are some of the reasons why you should consider leveraging a data management platform for your business.

  • Creates data unification — data platforms unify disparate data types from various data lakes, silos, and legacy servers, giving you a holistic view of your organization’s data.
  • Enables more access and more control over data — A modern data management platform will help you strategically and effectively manage how your business data is handled. You can specify the data sets to be collected, the person(s) with access to them, as well as how your organization stays compliant with privacy and data protection laws.
  • Reduces cost, resources and time needed — The data platform will connect directly to your company’s data sources and database to ensure that data is compiled, stored, and processed in real-time. Such a system will have a positive effect on your profits and operational efficiency.

Data Platform Essential Features

Whichever data platform you choose, you should ensure that it has the following features, at the least:

Data Platform Vs Database

How does a data platform differ from a database? Consider the following:

A database is a data repository

A database is in some cases referred to as a data warehouse, enterprise data warehouse (EDW) or data repository. It is a data pool where massive amounts of business data are integrated. The data could be from marketing, sales, procurement, HR, finance, etc. For non-technical staff, data in a database is hard to access and is usually guarded by IT personnel who require users to have the necessary permissions to access the data.

A data platform combines solutions and features into a single product

Unlike a database that pools together data from various business sources, a data platform provides users (employees, executives, etc.) with centralized access to business data from multiple databases and sources. Big data management platforms eliminate organizational silos and create more collaborative decision making. With the entire enterprise having access to cross-departmental data, your business benefits with better insights into key metrics like Click-to-Purchase Rate, Lifetime Value, Customer Acquisition Cost, etc.

Data platforms are about data in motion

Data platforms are designed to help you understand your business data in real-time. It allows you to see your entire enterprise and how data is flowing through your business system. As a result, you can process and respond to the data continuously and in real-time, powering improved data-driven operations and richer customer experiences.

Conclusion

Put It Forward delivers a data platform with a flexible suite of tools to help you make the most of your business data. It combines shared data repositories, data lakes, data marketplace, and data sharing capabilities with advanced business intelligence, data analytics, data integration, and data management to deliver a data-driven platform well able to address the requirements of today’s fast-paced business environment.

Put It Forward powers agile business intelligence and delivers analytics wherever you need them so that you can create intuitive data experiences that anyone in your organization can leverage to improve their outputs. Businesses that use the Put It Forward data platform gain significant leverage in a marketplace that more than ever demands that organizations be data-driven to thrive.

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