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Data mesh: Real examples and lessons learned

Data is changing. Are you keeping up?


Data and how we use it are constantly evolving in today's fast-paced world. And as we continue to rely on data accessibility to drive growth, it will only become more complicated to manage. Centralized data platforms have long served as the foundation of modern business intelligence and analytics and, in most cases, continue to deliver meaningful business value. But, like all foundations, over time, cracks begin to show. Data solutions are now bursting at the seams as the number and diversity of data sources and use cases becomes too complicated to manage with a traditional, centralized approach. Moreover, this rapidly increasing demand for business intelligence and analytics is inadvertently creating insight bottlenecks, preventing the delivery of deep, valuable insights. And truth be told, it's a big ask to address the above — it takes a cultural shift in ways of working that truly sets organizations on a path of readiness to innovate and leverage their data at a much faster pace.


So, what are some problems of not addressing data issues? The accidental creation of data latency generates a delay and a lack of access to the correct information, leading to the use of rogue data repositories and shadow BI solutions. Regulatory requirements surrounding data are becoming increasingly complex, and all who work with data must comply. Dependance on tribal knowledge generates stagnation in innovation and ideas. The list can go on and on. So, what does it take to not only avoid the problems previously mentioned but to thrive and grow in an ever-changing data landscape? How can organizations move forward when the path ahead can appear unclear and confusing? We feel the paramount solution to the change and potential problems in today's data landscape is through Data Mesh. Here are some brief examples of the Data mesh work we've conducted with our clients Gilead and Saxo Bank.


Success based on real-world use cases


Thoughtworks has been working with Gilead, an American biopharmaceutical company, for over a year in developing the case and planning the implementation for Data mesh. Gilead has a robust experimentation culture, established people practices and innovative technology thought leadership, but like many enterprises, it faced numerous challenges adopting the Data mesh approach to deliver data-driven value at scale. Thoughtworks is actively assisting Gilead in their approach to Data mesh in building an Enterprise Data and AI Platform leveraging their prior experiences to establish new guiding principles. When reviewing opportunities, Gilead saw value in a new organizational and operational model backed by data, but by using a Data mesh approach, it also allows them the opportunity to engage in a cloud transformation initiative. While their previous experience and realized opportunity for Data mesh allow Gilead to create guiding principles moving forward, such as managing their data as a product and adopting cloud-first architecture, it's only the tip of the iceberg in their journey.


Thoughtworks has also been working with Saxo Bank, a European online investment bank, to democratize data while empowering clients with information and agility to act with confidence. Because of the bank’s complex ecosystem, the data found within Saxo Bank's platform must be transparent, trustworthy and co-sharable, with the Saxo app being white-listed in every environment. So, Saxo Bank and Thoughtworks partnered to bring Data mesh to their organization. Thoughtworks created a data workbench for Saxo Bank to make their data assets searchable and discoverable. Much like how one would search for a product on Amazon, one types in the name of the data asset they're seeking in a search bar, and results backed by a business catalog of consistent business definitions appear. The data workbench also has product descriptions for each data asset along with the data asset's number of uses and user feedback, so one knows that the data is trustworthy. At a high level, since deploying their Data mesh initiative, Saxo Bank has seen a reduced cost of customer acquisition, more efficient costs of operation and increased defense due to the reduced chances of compliance and regulatory quagmires. 


More in-depth information about Gilead and Saxo Bank can be found in the video below.


Some lessons learned along the way


Our Data Mesh work with Gilead, Saxo Bank and other organizations have taught us much about what it takes to succeed. While not exhaustive, here's a brief overview of some of the lessons we've learned along the way in empowering our clients with Data mesh:


  1. Mindset, organizational and operational models are the most significant barriers to adopting Data Mesh.

  2. Educating stakeholders and domain teams about Data Mesh is critical to success.

  3. Developing a product mindset needs to start with discovery from the consumer perspective.

  4. Creating foundational data products that can be reused and repurposed for multiple use cases helps solidify Data mesh.

  5. Data products need to be compliant with global and local policies.

  6. Choosing the right implementation partner to adopt Data Mesh within your organization is crucial.


Getting started with Data mesh


Data mesh is a powerfully transformative analytical data architecture and operating model. Businesses in all industries stand to gain with correct Data mesh implementation. But adopting Data Mesh requires more than just technology change — it takes some time, organizational commitment and the right partner to guide you through the process. As a Data Mesh innovator, Thoughtworks is committed to delivering the business outcomes your strategy requires. We also aim to positively impact your organization, working with you to transform your digital capabilities, delivery practices and the mindset of your talent. Finally, as an organization committed to learning, we continually invest in research, harvesting learnings and develop thought leadership to share with our clients. As a result, we're constantly helping our clients achieve their goals through Data mesh strategies and other transformative technologies. We're more than willing to get started with your organization today.


Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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