Data Activation for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know

Data activation is one of the biggest trends in big data technology.

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Big data technology is having a huge impact on the state of modern business. The technology surrounding big data has evolved significantly in recent years, which means that smart businesses will have to take steps to keep up with it. One of the biggest breakthroughs for data-driven businesses has been the development of data activation.

What is Data Activation?

Data activation is a new and exciting way that businesses can think of their data. It’s more than just data that provides the information necessary to make wise, data-driven decisions. It’s more than just allowing access to data warehouses that were becoming dangerously close to data silos. Data activation is about giving businesses the power to make data serve them. That entails a lot of different things, from orchestration and access to automation and tracking.

Data activation is an exciting tool for companies to take advantage of to use their data to its fullest potential. If you have been wondering what data activation is and how it could be helpful. Here is everything you need to know about data activation, which is one of the biggest big data trends of 2022. .

It Started Reverse ETL

Companies will spend over $55 billion on big data this year in the United States alone. This is driving the demand for new data management technologies, which has spurred the need for data activation. ETL is the source of its origin.

To understand how data activation is unique and where it can help your business in powerful ways, you have to start with reverse ETL. ETL is a form of data integration into a warehouse. When a company begins to create data, and it accumulates in a way that is either inaccessible or so disparate that it cannot be useful, it aggregates in what is known as a data silo.

These silos have valuable data that either isn’t in the right format or is just not accessible to the company and poses a problem to companies that wish to use their data productively. The age-old solution to a data silo has always been the data warehouse. This is a solution for taking data out of a silo, transforming it into a uniform, usable format, and then placing it in a warehouse where it is accessible.

ETL itself stands for Extract, Translate, Load. This title mirrored the steps of extracting data from a silo, translating it into an accessible format, and then loading it into a warehouse where it becomes a source of truth across an entire company.

Over time, however, data warehouses and lake houses began to suffer from the same problems that silos did. As a result, this data became hard to access and, in some cases, even impossible for a company to use as a source of truth. There were several factors for this, one of them being that only people who knew SQL could even access this data in the first place.

That is when Hightouch developed a solution that would come to be called reverse ETL. Put simply, this solution helped to move data out of a warehouse and across a company’s departments. This allowed different departments within a company to have access to data vital for making good, customer-based decisions.

Because reverse ETL was so successful, it began to be something that unlocked new possibilities for companies. As they continued to use it, Hightouch was able to stay up to date with how to reverse ETL was impacting a company’s data usage. This led to understanding how things could be improved and what could be added to improve this system.

From Reverse ETL to Data Activation

After nearly two years of working hand in hand with reverse ETL, Hightouch was able to produce what is now being called Data Activation. Data Activation has all the great benefits of Reverse ETL. Still, it continues to give developers, engineers and departments the tools they need to get the most out of the data that belongs to their company.

The shift from reverse ETL to data activation came through operational analytics. Operational analytics focused on not only getting data to a department but giving those departments the ability to make data work. That meant allowing for automation of tasks based on customer interactions.

There was confusion over semantics. Operational Analytics sounded like a solution for retroactive decision-making. Collecting data and looking back over it and using this information to make decisions. Data Activation is more in line with what Operational Analytics is meant to be.

This allowed companies to set automation in motion that helped departments see a clearer, more precise view of their customer in real-time. In addition, this tracked data across an entire company to give departments the ability to improve customer relations as they happened and not only have the looking back at accumulated data.


Hightouch continues to work closely with its clients to make the best tools on the market for helping businesses use their data effectively. Giving companies the tools to use their data to help improve customer experience, win over potential customers, and grow is what Data Activation aims to do.

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