If you work with data you may have heard of an information layer, but what is it and why are people talking about them? In this blog, we’ll explore the meaning of the term, as well as why it’s important and how it could help your organisation.
What is an information Layer?
An information layer is a repository of business-critical data that is automatically sourced, quality assured (with an audit trail), and combined into a shareable, ready-to-use, up-to-date table. This means that data only needs to be sourced, stewarded and engineered once, yet it can be used in multiple ways, whether it be a dashboard, an application, or a report. Much like sugar refining, an information layer is taking something raw, (in this case data instead of a sugarbeet) and making it usable in many applications the way refined sugar can be used to make anything from biscuits to ice cream.
How does it help?
A huge part of the Analysts’ role is assessing the quality of data for use in analysis. To do this, they need to know the full provenance of that data, including what it represents, where it came from and how it has been transformed or validated. Unfortunately, this metadata information is often only partially available in the database. As a result, analysts spend lots of time referring back to applications and business teams to get the context they need for a data project.
We can remove these time-consuming steps by creating a ‘quality assured information layer’ that includes critical metadata information within the database and gives analysts the context they need without additional effort. This metadata layer must contain information on the data provenance, quality assurance process, testing and transformation, which is easily accessible to analysts. Most importantly, this information must be easily accessible for all stored data. Having this metadata readily available builds trust in data, and makes it easier to re-use across multiple applications without needing to duplicate preparation or querying work.
Why is it necessary?
Information layers deliver huge value for the business, as they can be reused for multiple analytics solutions without repeat work and are ready to go for any ad-hoc reports that are required. This cuts the cost of future analysis, as well as manual work. Information layers can also feed quality data into systems without additional effort, and are accessible and cloud-based so they can be shared easily.
Need support in implementing an information layer? Our expert team can help, speak to a member of our team today for more information. Check out our other blogs and resources where we explain more data concepts and strategies.