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What Is an Open Data Platform?

By Ben Haynes on February 24, 2022

Data is everywhere – and there’s more of it than ever. Every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created, and by 2025, that number is expected to reach 463 exabytes globally. By 2025, 200+ zettabytes of data will be stored in the cloud. The numbers are staggering!

Data is increasingly useful to businesses in every industry. Organizations depend on it to optimize any number of business-related tasks across Marketing, Sales, Engineering, Product Management, Human Resources, Customer Service and more. In today’s digital world, everyone within the four walls of a business needs data to do their jobs efficiently – and there’s plenty of it. With the introduction of cloud, along with innovations in storage and database technologies, our ability to capture and store data has vastly improved over the past decade.

Unfortunately, the lack of ubiquitous access to company data has been a barrier to capitalizing on its full value. Historically, databases have been created and maintained by IT personnel using extremely technical tools that require specialized training and knowledge to use. Interacting with data in this environment requires extensive knowledge of relational databases and schemas, as well as proficiency with SQL. As a result, only IT was able to interact with data, and if business users outside of IT wanted to use it, they had to rely on an engineer to build a custom system or app. According to Forbes, just 14% of enterprises today make data broadly accessible to employees.

Enter the Open Data Platform – a new concept that enables both technical and non-technical users to fully leverage data across the enterprise. Open Data Platforms deliver standardized APIs that abstract the complexity of connecting relational database content, and include a no-code app that enables secure data access and management, without the help of IT.

Any Database, Democratized

Open Data Platforms layer on top of a database, pulling everything they need from the database’s schema and content. This “mirroring” eliminates the burden of migrating data to a closed system or forcing a proprietary, one-size-fits-all architecture. Data stays pristine and unaltered, free from vendor lock-in. The platform then generates a comprehensive data backbone, or boilerplate, including REST and GraphQL APIs, flexible authentication options, ETL workflows and a no-code App that developers can use to build their applications more efficiently. In this way, anyone in the organization can access and manage company data, with no risk of corrupting or deleting it.

With rapid and easy access to company data, business or technical users can easily leverage it for an endless number of use cases. Open Data Platforms are so flexible because they remain completely un-opinionated. They sit on top of your data, providing various tools and services that increase efficiency and access. All of this is incrementally adoptable. The underlying data remains the same, so there’s no vendor lock-in and you are never forced to use any middleware.

Some of the primary use cases for Open Data Platforms include:

  • Creating omnichannel digital experiences such as blogs, websites, apps, kiosks or digital advertising.
  • Developing internal applications for managing customer data, project details, inventory, knowledge bases, task lists or marketing data.
  • Powering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings.
  • Data visualization for gaining insights and analytics from complex datasets across disparate data sources.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. In truth, the possibilities are limitless. Instead of purchasing off-the-shelf tools that are built for just one specific use case, an Open Data Platform can be deployed rapidly and leveraged across multiple use cases. They require very little training to use and are incrementally adoptable – you can begin with a single use case and expand adoption over time, as needed. By combining multiple, disparate systems, you reduce overall complexity, and slash overhead by reducing licensing, training and maintenance costs. Integration headaches disappear, and you can work toward building a single source of truth for all of your business data.

In addition to their flexibility, Open Data Platforms are characterized by extensibility and a high degree of automation. Advanced platforms also offer a multilingual App with translation capabilities to enable global teams and international users, as well as other features such as robust digital asset management, event hooks, storage adapters, support for major auth providers and more.

With over 16 million installations, Directus is the leading Open Data Platform. In fact, we’re currently the first and only Open Data Platform available both on premises and in the cloud. Completely free and open-source, with no paywalls or artificial limitations, Directus is helping organizations of all sizes create data-driven digital experiences and internal apps quickly and easily, and realize the full value of their vast stores of company data.

Download our whitepaper, How Open Data Platforms Democratize Your Data to learn more about Open Data Platforms and how Directus can add value to your organization.

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