Why You Should Care About Data Governance

Does your company have a formal agenda to govern your data as a strategic asset? Does somebody in your organization have the responsibility for …?

  1. … improving central coordinated management of the data that feed performance indicators
  2. … improving decision making through consistent data definition, integration and delivery protecting
  3. engaging and servicing your customers (and their data) for life
  4. … improving operational efficiency and effectives through improved information flow making certain agile system development efforts deliver high-quality data

Do you believe these things are being achieved through your present channels – mostly consisting of data warehouses or localized management of the data resources? Have you asked people how that is working for them? The best thing you can do is make somebody responsible for asking these questions and addressing deficiencies. Without that, nothing gets done.

Has your company asked people in business operations and decision making positions how they feel about the data they define, produce and use as part of daily operations? From years of working with large and small companies around the world, my experience is that business operations staff spends a lot of time and exhausts a great quantity of resources to get data they consider tolerable to complete their job while attempting to excel at their function. Sometimes these people will tell you that the data is not adequate and it is getting worse.

“Formal Data Governance programs are put in place to improve the value an organization gets from their data and information.”

The term “governance” can be scary to companies that value autonomy and independence in the way they manage their businesses. Governance sounds exhausting and difficult and cumbersome – all about command and control of our … data – of all things. The truth is that it does NOT have to be that way. And governed data can be the life-line to success in many ways.

Industries in mass are adopting the buzzwords of the 20-teens which all focus on data. You have heard the terms “big data”, the cloud, analytics, metadata, B2B, B2C … and the latest buzz about the “Internet of Things” – otherwise known as M2M (machine to machine). All of these technologies are exploding. All of these require confidence that you have accurate, timely, understood, purposeful and protected data.

The McKinsey Global Institute (McKinsey.com) estimated that retailers exploiting data analytics at scale across their organizations could increase their operating margins by more than 60 percent and that the US healthcare sector could reduce costs by 8 percent through data-analytics efficiency and quality improvements. These projected statistics only scratch the surface when it comes to how companies are (and will be) squeezing every last drop of value from their data.

The question becomes – “What are you doing with your data?” Are you getting all the value you can from what you know about your customer, citizen, supplier, student, provider … relationships? This list of important data goes on and on. You are probably doing okay with how you manage all of this data, at least you hope. The fact is that the data does not govern itself.

“Data Governance programs are put in place to formalize accountability for the management of data through stewardship of data resources.”

Data Governance will not solve all of your data problems. To follow the data buzz requires dollars and often many of them. The latest technologies including ways of acquiring and collecting data, ways of storing that data, ways of analyzing and gaining insight from that data, and ways of using that data to make better decisions – all come with a substantial financial commitment. Notice that the previous sentence spoke only of the pipelines for the data and nothing about what flows through the pipelines.

If your company is considering taking advantage of the best that technology has to offer you should also be thinking about the data that will make the delivery of these technologies meaningful and productive. The management of data as an asset starts with the governance of that data.

Data people live for this stuff. Not necessarily the technology but the management of the data. While the subject may be boring to many, there are also just as many people that spend their time thinking about (or losing sleep over) how nice it would be if their data was better. Data Governance is necessary to make your data better.

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Robert S. Seiner

Robert S. Seiner

Robert (Bob) S. Seiner is the President and Principal of KIK Consulting & Educational Services and the Publisher Emeritus of The Data Administration Newsletter. Seiner is a thought-leader in the fields of data governance and metadata management. KIK (which stands for “knowledge is king”) offers consulting, mentoring and educational services focused on Non-Invasive Data Governance, data stewardship, data management and metadata management solutions. Seiner is the author of the industry’s top selling book on data governance – Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success (Technics Publications 2014) and the followup book - Non-Invasive Data Governance Strikes Again: Gaining Experience and Perspective (Technics 2023), and has hosted the popular monthly webinar series on data governance called Real-World Data Governance (w Dataversity) since 2012. Seiner holds the position of Adjunct Faculty and Instructor for the Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College Chief Data Officer Executive Education program.

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