DG Winter 2017 Review – Data Governance in the Digital Era

FEA02x - edited feature imageThe importance of data has grown exponentially over the past decade.  We’ve gone from utilizing data for daily operational reporting needs to a Digital Era requiring real-time availability of data utilizing extremely large volumes.  Hospitals depend on it to save lives, NASA uses it to enable space travel, and we use it every day to guide us to find the best driving routes possible.

The data required to support the emerging technologies must be governed for quality, speed and compliance to maximize revenues, decrease expenses, provide a 360 degree of our customers, and meet legal regulations.


The emerging technologies listed below have become key drivers in our Data-Centric world:


  • Mobile Application Analytics
  • Smart Meters
  • Sensors for Monitoring
  • Machine Learning
  • Data Science (Predictive, Prescriptive and Descriptive) Modeling
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Self-Service Business Intelligence and Data Visualizations

We need the right data, at the right time!

Data Governance Professionals who are challenged with accomplishing this for our organizations need to be on top of Best Practices and Technology.  The best way to expedite this is to learn from and collaborate with Data Governance industry experts, thought leaders, practitioners, colleagues, and vendors.

Fortunately, Davida Berger from DebTech, working along with the DATAVERSITY, make this opportunity available for us three times a year; The Data Governance Financial Services Conference in Jersey City (September or October), The Data Governance Winter Conference in Delray Beach, FL (December), and The Data Governance Information Quality Conference in San Diego, CA (June).  Alternating their locations on both the East and West Coast make at least one conference convenient for US residents to attend.  Not to mention the gorgeous weather and location of both.

The Winter Conference was recently held in sunny South Florida, in Delray Beach, from December 4th to the 8th.  The breadth and depth of Data Governance topics covered were outstanding.  There was a wealth of knowledge to be obtained.  Below are some testimonial quotes about the conference from a few attendees.

Implementing a new Data Governance program has challenges.  The conference showed me and my colleagues that we were on the right track and gave us confidence to go back and stop asking permission!” – Anonymous

After a week of all things Data Governance, my head was full of practical ideas for improving our Data Governance program.  I couldn’t wait to get back to the office to put the ideas into action.”  – Karen Roraff, Data Governance Lead at Dycom Industries

The sessions were very insightful.  Many were well targeted on recent areas of interest relevant to many companies’ current journey in Data Governance.  Also for those impacted by GDPR, it helped us get another level deeper and learned approaches in seeking compliance.”  – Brian Wood, AVP, Enterprise Data and Intelligence at Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

The “Half-Day Tutorials” allowed you to spend multiple hours with one speaker on a single subject.  The worst part was choosing the session to attend because there were such brilliant speakers and awesome subjects.  Smart companies sent multiple attendees not only for the discount but to cover multiple topics.   Some of the speakers included David Loshin, John Ladley, and Sunil Soares.  All are industry experts, and many have authored books on the subjects. The Data Governance topics included the following:

  • Data Governance 101; Policies, Processes, Roles and Metrics
  • Data Governance from the Business Viewpoint
  • Best Practices for Data Quality and Metrics
  • Data Governance and Master Data Management (MDM)
  • Building a Business Glossary
  • Rescuing a Struggling Data Governance Program

It was tough to only pick two half-day subjects.  However, my choices were Data Governance from the Business Viewpoint with John Ladley from First San Francisco Partners, and Best Practices for Data Quality Metrics with Michele Koch & Barbara Deemer from Navient.

The Data Governance from the Business Viewpoint tutorial is highly recommended for those with a strong technical background (IT folks).  This tutorial helps to improve business engagement skills.  John was able to provide guidance on how to achieve the four most significant success factors in a Data Governance Program:

  1. Engagement – creating awareness and a positive perception
  2. Business Alignment – harmonizing with the company strategy regarding people, processes and technology
  3. Proactive Change – developing organization change management
  4. Practical and Sustainable Execution – planning, managing and implementing

A couple of Do’s and Don’ts that John stated to develop and sustain a successful Data Governance Program were:

  • Move your Data Governance Program from IT sponsored to Business-Led it will improve its sustainability.
  • Don’t just do Data Management and Data Quality, do Data Governance.
  • Don’t go directly to purchase a tool. Use a non-invasive approach.  First get started manually using tools you already have (Ex. SharePoint, Google Drive and Documents, Data Modeling Tools already in house), show value, then look at the advantages of utilizing new tools.

The second tutorial attended was the Best Practices for Data Quality and Metrics presented by the Data Divas from Navient; Barbara Koch and Michele Deemer.   Their passion for data was inspiring.  They shared their journey of how Navient went from a struggling Data Governance Program to a mature one.  It was a rocky road at first, but patience and persistence paid off.   Below are some key areas they presented that are useful for any company embarking on a Data Governance program.

  1. Business Impact Techniques
  2. Business Value Calculation Worksheets
  3. Steps to Data Quality
  4. Workflows and dashboards for monitoring Data Quality metrics
  5. Dashboards for monitoring the success of the Data Governance program

The conference also offered sessions from award winning Data Governance practitioners to share their real-life experiences.  The Keynote speaker was industry thought, Sunil Soares, from Information Asset. He educated us on emerging trends in Data Sovereignty, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.

Some of the hot topics during the conference were:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Data Quality and Data Governance Metrics
  • Agile Data Governance
  • Business Value and Impact
  • Guides for Successful Data Governance programs
  • Automation and Machine Learning for Governance

Although these sessions were shorter than the tutorial, the benefit was that the speakers had to be very concise in their message. The downside was since these sessions were shorter, questions came to you after the presentation had ended. However, all speakers and attendees ate lunch together, which provided an opportunity to sit at a table with your favorite speakers and ask the questions you didn’t have time for during the sessions. The daily lunch provided a great means to network with your peers, colleagues and speakers.

At the end of the conference, there was a three-hour workshop held by industry experts and authors with three interesting subjects:

  • Essential Artifacts for a Successful Data Governance and Data Quality Program by David Marco from EWSolutions
  • Zen and the Art of Data Governance: Organizational Change and Human Behavioral Techniques Crucial to Data Governance by Len Silverston of Universal Data Models
  • Meeting the Challenge of the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by Malcolm Chisholm of First San Francisco Partners

Again, the choice was difficult. I wished I could have split myself into three parts, so I could attend all three workshops.  I did not attend David Marco’s talk on Data Governance and Data Quality or Malcolm Chisholm’s class on GDPR, but heard through colleagues that they were excellent and provided extremely valuable and actionable information.

Instead I chose Zen and the Art of Data Governance.  I wanted to know what the heck Zen had to do with Data Governance.  Little did I know, it was what I really needed.  Being from a technical background, I realized that my human side needed some work.  The real key to a successful Data Governance program is building trust and finding out what truly motivates people.  You must be able to make yourself vulnerable so that people will open up to you.  This is not only with your business, but your bosses and your team members too. We’re all in this together and united is the best way to govern.  After all, Zen means enlightenment, which is what Data Governance brings to organizations.  Zen was able to conduct active exercises that engaged everyone in the room.  There were no electronics being used while he spoke.  Lessons learned in this class were instilled in us through active participation in the class.

The conference also offered Two-Day Seminars conducted by two Data Governance Industry Experts and Authors.

Danette McGilvray, author of “Executing Data Quality Projects; Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information,” conducted a class called “Ten Steps to Data Quality.

David Plotkin, author of “Data Stewardship; an Actionable Guide to Effective Data Management and Data Governance,” offered a class called “A Complete Guide to Data Stewardship.

Knowing that both instructors were outstanding in their areas of expertise made it difficult to choose which seminar to attend. However, since I had previously used David Plotkin’s book, “Data Stewardship,” as a guide in setting up successful Data Governance programs for multiple companies, I thought it would be interesting to meet him and attend his seminar.

The Data Stewardship class was amazing.  It was like reading David’s book cover-to-cover in 2 days while being able to interact with the author.  David has already walked the walk, so this seminar allowed you to just run in his footsteps for successful Data Governing.  There were many very insightful stories as to why it was important to follow these processes and best practices. Templates, Matrixes, and Diagrams were supplied that will help “jump start” any Data Governance Organization even if a Data Governance tool is used or if it’s a home-grown solution. Below are some of the subject areas covered:

  • High Level Roadmap
  • Goals of Data Stewardship
  • Data Governance Organization Structures
  • Roles and Responsibilities that could be used for Job Descriptions
  • Process Model diagrams including Issue Request & Remediation, Data Quality Enforcement and Reconciliation, Data Lineage, Metadata Approval Process and many more
  • Useful Metrics to measure the effectiveness and to build business cases with measurable ROI for both the Data Governance Office and the Business Data Quality efforts

In addition to the conference presentations there were about a dozen vendors that participated in the Exhibition Hall.  The vendors showcased their products that included solutions for comprehensive Data Governance, Data Modeling, Data Profiling, and Data Lineage.  This was very helpful for those companies who are in the tools evaluation stage to view competitor products in the marketspace.

So, in the end, I’d have to say that the Data Governance knowledge gained through the tutorials, conference sessions, workshops, seminars, and the vendor exhibition hall was well worth the money and time spent.  The networking and collaboration with the speakers and colleagues was invaluable.  Everyone was approachable and willing to share their good and bad experiences.  This conference helped to build confidence in knowing we are on the right track with Data Governance in this Digital Era.

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Mary Mink

Mary Mink

Mary Mink is a native South Floridian IT professional who has dedicated the past 25 years to transforming data into actionable information for many organizations. She has developed successful Data Warehouses for multiple companies within several industry segments including Insurance, Travel and Entertainment (Cruise Industry), Retail Sales, Customer Care and Support and Human Capital Management. Her technical areas of expertise span across Data Warehouse Architecture, Data Modeling, Data Management, Data Discovery and Analytics to her more recent passion for Data Governance. She is a Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) in Data Analysis and Design by the Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI) and a Certified Data Vault Professional (CDVP2). She has been a presenter at the World-Wide Data Vault Consortium (WWDVC) on multiple occasions and presented on topics such as “A Near RealTime Data Warehouse in the Cloud” or “Our Voyage to Virtual”. Mary is very passionate about providing the right data at the right time to deliver business value to her customers.

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