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Get ready to democratize data with Microsoft Fabric

Microsoft’s new data platform, Microsoft Fabric, has the potential to set data free across your organization and turn anyone who can use a spreadsheet into a data analyst. But unlocking these benefits requires training, change management and a robust data governance process.

If your job title contains the word “data”, the launch of Microsoft Fabric is likely to have a significant impact on your work and how you interact with your colleagues. Microsoft’s new data platform fundamentally changes the way organizations store, organize and distribute data.

The introduction of Microsoft Fabric gathers existing data tools like Synapse, Data Factory and Power BI into a single SaaS platform, making them much more accessible for users without a hardcore data background.

It employs an architecture that is designed to enable citizen developers to take their data collection and analysis to new heights without having to wait months for technical staff, Emil Sejer Pedersen continues. 

New roles for the data experts

Equipped with these new tools, users from across the organization can compile their own reports and dashboards covering everything from fresh sales data to process information or detailed batch records. This enables them to gain valuable insights and disrupts the dynamic of how data is regarded and used in the organization.

– With Microsoft Fabric, you basically combine the roles of data engineers and business analysts into one. Citizen data scientists can find their own answers to questions like “who are our most valuable customers?”, “what were our total sales this quarter?”, “when is a specific problem most likely to occur?” or “where are the products from this specific batch currently located?”, says Emil Sejer Pedersen and continues:

– By shifting responsibility for reporting from data analysts to the end-users who need the information for their daily jobs, Microsoft Fabric both eliminates bottlenecks and empowers employees to make more informed and data-driven decisions. This creates a new organizational culture, where the role of the data experts becomes more advisory and faciliatory and less operational, and where end-users become more engaged and proactive.

Take care to avoid the data swamp

Of course, realizing the benefits of Microsoft Fabric is not simply done by installing the system and opening the data floodgates. The transition to greater data democratization requires careful preparation, change management and a high level of security.

– Especially in life sciences and other regulated industries, you can’t release data that has not been tested and validated. You also need to maintain the integrity of your data lake, so it does not get polluted by low-quality or inaccurate data, such as duplicates, improper formats or insufficient meta-data. If that happens, your data lake turns into a data swamp, says Emil Sejer Pedersen.

Microsoft Fabric employs a lakehouse architecture, where a central data lake (called OneLake) stores all your data, acting as a single source of truth. A data lake can contain multiple data warehouses, so you can separate your financial data from your sales data or clinical data, for example. From your data lake, you can use data pipelines to load data into lakehouses, where users can access it.

– The only way to avoid the data swamp is to have a sharp focus from the beginning. Enforce a tight data governance, make sure your data is tagged and categorized correctly and prioritize training, so your users understand the importance of following the standards. With Microsoft Fabric, you can share and promote curated datasets, so you gain more control. It also enables you to start small and gradually build up your data governance as you expand functionality, Emil Sejer Pedersen explains.

Computer and clinical trials

Prepare for Microsoft Fabric – NNIT’s Top Tips:

  1. Build your business case: What do you want to accomplish by implementing Microsoft Fabric? Is the objective to get a better overview of your sales pipeline, improve quality or use your data expert’s time more efficiently? The goals you set should determine your approach and which stakeholders you involve.

  2. Governance above all: The importance of robust data governance cannot be overstated, especially when you want employees who are not data experts to play a bigger role in how you use your data. Set rigorous standards and ensure that all users are trained to use them properly. Structure your systems and interfaces to support adherence to the correct standards, for example through automation, pre-defined options and by limiting free-form input as much as possible.

  3. Spot your ambassadors: Rather than attempt to roll out Microsoft Fabric to everyone all at once, it is better to focus on identifying an initial group of super users, who can act as ambassadors who can get experience and get more colleagues on board. Working with Microsoft Fabric will require changes to internal processes and new habits, which your ambassadors can help you fine-tune before rolling it out to the broader organization.

  4. Start small, then expand: When building your data lake, you should first focus on the core of your business. Don’t dump all available data into your data warehouses or you risk ending up with the dreaded data swamp. It’s usually better to start small and expand once you get some experience from actual use-cases.

  5. Limit the use of dashboards: With a wealth of data available, it is tempting to build dashboards for every conceivable metric. Many organizations have an unfortunate tendency to drown themselves in dashboards, which ends up creating clutter instead of clarity. Limit yourself to the dashboards that display only the most important and meaningful data.

Want to dive into Microsoft Fabric? Let NNIT help you get ready!

Getting started with Microsoft Fabric is going to require a lot of preparation, from building business cases to producing training materials and setting up the necessary infrastructure. It may be relevant to reorganize certain roles and responsibilities and coordinate with numerous internal and external stakeholders.

NNIT can assist you with all of this. As certified Microsoft Partners with more than 450+ Microsoft certifications and an extensive track record working with regulated industries, we have both the expertise and experience needed to build you the best possible foundation for success with Microsoft Fabric.