Skip to main content

5 Data Fabric Use Cases IT Leaders Should Know About

Roland Alston, Appian
June 20, 2024

Data is the lifeblood of every enterprise, but managing this vital resource often feels like trying to wrangle a herd of cats. Competitiveness is hindered by data scattered across multiple systems, stored in different formats, and accessed by various departments. That’s where data fabric comes into play—a technology that tames the chaos, weaving disparate data threads into a single, cohesive tapestry.

What is data fabric?

A data fabric is an architecture that unifies, secures, and optimizes data spread across the enterprise. This unified architecture powers modern, data-driven applications that can quickly automate your business.

On the flip side, imagine navigating a maze blindfolded. That’s what it’s like for IT leaders managing fragmented data systems—slow, disorienting, and utterly frustrating. Data fabric removes the blindfold, allowing enterprises to overcome data management obstacles with agility and speed.


[ Is it time to solve your data silo problems and speed up innovation? Learn how in the eBook: The Data Fabric Advantage. ]


A data fabric lets you identify bottlenecks in your core processes and build custom reports tailored to your operational needs.

The magic of a data fabric architecture lies in its ability to unify data access and integration, enable real-time analytics, enhance governance and security, and boost operational efficiency. It’s not just a tool; it’s a game-changer. For IT leaders in this age of acceleration, understanding the top use cases of data fabric can mean the difference between winning and losing the race for customers and market share. 

Harnessing the transformative power of data fabric starts with understanding its foundational capability: unified data access and integration. This critical function addresses one of the most persistent challenges faced by enterprises today—data silos. Let’s delve into how data fabric unifies disparate data sources, providing a seamless, integrated view that drives efficiency and innovation.

Unified data access and integration

First up, let’s tackle the issue of data silos. Imagine a big city where high walls isolate every community. Each department within an enterprise functions like these walled-off neighborhoods, generating data in isolation. Data fabric tears down walls to create a seamless flow of information between enterprise communities.

There is no more jumping through hoops to gather data from different sources. With a data fabric architecture, all data, whether on-premises or in the cloud, is at your fingertips. It integrates data from disparate systems, providing a unified view of business operations. It’s like having a map showing every street, alley, and hidden corner of your enterprise.

Case in point:

A pioneering organization in commercial human spaceflight is developing advanced spacesuits for low-Earth orbit (LEO) and lunar missions. It is also supporting lunar exploration programs and creating a next-generation commercial space station to connect to the International Space Station (ISS).


To create next-generation spacesuits for low-Earth orbit (LEO) and lunar operations, the organization needed a way to unify data across numerous systems and formats while tracking the entire design history throughout the engineering process.


Using the data fabric architecture of a leading AI-powered process automation platform, the organization developed an innovative application that tracks the lifecycle of spacesuits and monitors development projects from beginning to end. The solution, built in less than a year, supports lunar missions and operations on the ISS.


By leveraging data fabric, the organization transformed its data management and decision-making effectiveness with the following capabilities:

  • Comprehensive tracking: Enhanced ability to track the entire lifecycle of spacesuit development.

  • Unified data management: Efficient management of data across multiple systems and formats.

  • Improved safety and control: Optimizing efficacy in the engineering process.

  • Enhanced decision-making: Leveraging AI-driven analytics for better decision-making and operational efficiency.

The organization's digital transformation team continues to innovate, using data fabric and AI-driven analytics for operational efficiency and decision-making. This use case underscores the powerful impact of data fabric in streamlining complex data environments and driving strategic advancements in space exploration technology. 

[Learn about how data fabric works and real-world benefits. Get the Data Fabric Guide.]


Real-time data analytics

Next, we confront the latency beast. In the business world, speed is everything. Making informed decisions in real time can be the difference between seizing an opportunity and missing the boat. Traditional data systems are like old steam engines—reliable but slow. Data fabric, on the other hand, is a bullet train.

With a data fabric architecture, you get the benefits of real-time data analytics. It’s like having a live feed of your city’s traffic patterns, allowing you to navigate precisely and avoid bottlenecks. Real-time insights mean you can react swiftly to market changes, optimize operations on the fly, and make data-driven decisions that propel your business forward.

Case in point:

A leading organization in equity derivatives clearing provides clearing and settlement services to 20 member exchanges and trading platforms for options, financial futures, security futures, and securities lending transactions.


As a Systemically Important Financial Market Utility (SIFMU), the organization provides financial stability to market participants, investors, and the economy. The organization set out to digitally transform its risk management processes, focusing on real-time data analytics.


The organization implemented a data fabric approach, deploying nine critical risk management applications within 18 months. The company used data fabric, a unified process automation platform, and real-time data analytics to embed control and compliance validation directly into its core business processes while providing real-time insights for decision-makers.


Data fabric significantly transformed the organization’s risk management and decision-making processes. Key benefits include:

  • Real-time data analytics: Enabled actionable insights for proactive risk management and swift decision-making.

  • Unified data management: Enhanced ability to manage and integrate data across various systems and formats, ensuring accurate and efficient risk management.

  • Improved operational efficiency: Streamlined processes, reducing redundancy and operational costs.

  • Embedded control and compliance: Automation and one-click reporting embedded control and compliance validation into core processes.

  • Enhanced decision-making: Leveraging real-time analytics for better decision-making and risk management.

  • Increased collaboration: Facilitates seamless collaboration with member exchanges and trading platforms, improving service delivery.

This use case highlights the powerful impact of enterprise data fabric in streamlining complex data environments and driving innovation in financial services, mainly through the lens of real-time data analytics, which enhances risk management and compliance.

With data fabric insights, users can quickly design reports with grids and charts to aggregate, filter, sort, and format data as needed.


Enhanced data governance and security

Then there’s the issue of governance and security. Picture a vault with multiple keys held by different guards. In this scenario, accessing your data can be a nightmare. Data fabric is the master key, ensuring data governance policies are enforced across the board. It tracks data lineage, maintains quality, and ensures compliance with regulations like GDPR and CCPA. 

For modern enterprises, security isn’t just about keeping the bad guys out; it’s about knowing who’s coming and going. Enterprise data fabric provides robust security capabilities, like a state-of-the-art surveillance system, monitoring access and protecting sensitive information. It centralizes security policies, reducing the risk of breaches and ensuring that only authorized personnel can access critical data.

Case in point:

A prominent banking group operates across several regions, including the UK and Ireland, through its banking brands. The organization leveraged the data fabric as part of a unified platform to meet governance requirements, automate change governance, and eliminate redundancy.


The company sought to replace a labor-intensive and inefficient manual change risk process, which exposed the organization to potential governance risks.


Implement a data fabric approach via a low-code process automation platform integrated with their core system. The integration streamlined the change risk review process, eliminated the need for manual risk assessments, and facilitated a standardized, transparent approach to governance and risk management.


By taking a data fabric approach, the company significantly transformed its data governance and security processes with:

  • Enhanced efficiency: Tasks that took weeks can now be completed within an hour, significantly improving operational efficiency.

  • Improved data governance: The new approach reduced multiple assessment cycle times using governance patterns, leading to more effective and transparent risk management.

  • Automation of change governance: Automation eliminated redundancy and minimized manual intervention, reducing the risk of errors and enhancing overall governance.

  • Recognition for excellence: The organization was named the Model Risk Manager of the Year for its innovative risk governance automation, highlighting the success of its efforts.

  • Reduced cycle times: The time required for product governance plummeted from 4.5 days to less than 20 minutes, achieving a key milestone in the company's goal of drastically reducing cycle times.

This use case demonstrates the powerful impact of data fabric in enhancing data governance and security in financial services. By streamlining processes and automating governance, organizations can achieve greater efficiency, transparency, and control in risk management. 


[Configure end-to-end apps with prebuilt features that cover 80% of typical case needs with Appian’s Case Management Studio. Learn more.]


Operational efficiency and cost reduction

Finally, we address the twin challenges of operational efficiency and cost. Traditional data management systems are resource hogs, guzzling time and money. They’re like outdated factories running on steam power—expensive to maintain and inefficient. Data fabric automates many labor-intensive tasks associated with data integration and management. 

Imagine replacing those old factories with sleek, automated production lines. That’s what data fabric does for your data operations. It streamlines processes, reduces redundancy, and cuts costs, freeing up IT resources to focus on strategic initiatives. 

Case in point

A leading Italian postal service provider operates a network of over 12,800 post offices, serving 35 million customers and earning over 11 billion euros in revenue. The organization is a crucial part of Italy’s economy.


The organization needed to automate and optimize its back-office processes to improve efficiency and reduce operational costs.


The company implemented a data fabric approach via a low-code process automation platform that sits on top of its legacy systems. The platform approach simplified workflows by automating critical tasks and provided a single, unified interface that minimized manual switching between multiple legacy systems.


The implementation of data fabric significantly improved the organization’s operational efficiency, reduced costs, and delivered the following benefits:

  • Time savings: Back-office staff saved significant time and effort previously lost to navigating between legacy systems, enhancing overall productivity.

  • Improved customer service: Customers receive better, more efficient service due to streamlined back-office processes.

  • Cost reduction: The new system reduced the organization's service cost, cutting lead times by at least 25% for core products.

  • Resource efficiency: The company reduced its use of resources by 45% compared to areas not supported by the unified platform.

This use case highlights the powerful impact of data fabric in enhancing operational efficiency and reducing costs. Companies can significantly improve service delivery and operational productivity by automating back-office processes and unifying data management. 

From enhancing operational efficiency and cost reduction in postal services to bolstering data governance and security in financial institutions, data fabric improves real-time actionable insights for critical decision-making, giving large organizations the agility and efficiency required to survive and thrive in a data-driven world. 


[Learn more about how data fabric fits into a modern automation strategy. Get the Gartner® Report: Build Your Hyperautomation Portfolio.]