Why is data governance important?

I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve seen this question recently – most likely as a headline for an article, webinar or whitepaper.  Chances are the answers to this question have been quite varied, most likely due to the specific industry targeted in each article or presentation.  While there may be varying answers, there is a common connection: Data, no matter the industry, is becoming increasingly valuable. Different organizations are realizing different value using data, some of the bullets read like –

  •    Run more efficiently
  •    Be more competitive
  •    Evaluate performance
  •    Support key business decisions
  •    Compliance
  •    Analytics
  •    Monetizing the data

These problems have existed for long and data could/should have been used for generating the answers. So let’s put it another way – Data has always been valuable, we are just learning new ways of realizing that value. The general feel amongst the executives is that we need to something with our data. The what and the how are continuously evolving as organizations derive more value out of their data. The next logical questions –

Where do I start?

Companies of all sizes want to take advantage of these benefits and unlock the maximum value from their data. The first step for an organization would be to understand the data and the business functions around that data. Connecting the data and developing this shared understanding of the data is one of the first ROI’s of the Data Governance initiatives within organizations.

In a recent InformationWeek article titled “9 Tips For Data Governance Success,” editor Jessica Davis interviewed industry experts on this very question. Experts quoted in the article agree that whether you are a small company starting from scratch or you have a seasoned team of data experts, it’s important for everyone to be on the same page. Notice that all nine of these tips are focused on the people and process within an organization. By starting with people and processes you will also have a better understanding of what technology solution will meet the needs of your organization.

How do I go about building that shared understanding?

The goal should be to start small and realize value quickly. Then re-iterate and expand the initiative with broader goals. There lies a tricky question while treading this path. While it is easy to get lost in the now, it is highly critical that you pave the path for the initiatives coming ahead. Shared understanding across different stakeholders can be hard to achieve. Having a shared environment for stakeholders to access information and collaborate in curating it, will help. While it seems easy and appealing to start with a spreadsheet and many do so, such approach doesn’t promote sharing and collaboration nor does it provide a path for growth and expansion of the governance practices. Data Governance tools, on the other hand, can address both challenges. Using these tools also gets your organization to gain indirectly from the experience of the other Data Governance initiates and best practices prevailing in the field.

As noted in our last blog Reflections from The Data Governance Financial Services Conference 2016, the results of a 2016 FIMA survey and several recent articles from consulting firms that specialize in best practices for data governance, there is a growing realization that having the right data governance software solution is a critical  factor for effective data governance.

So, what to look for while choosing a tool?

When considering your technology requirements consider that most organizations have data coming in from a variety of sources and at a faster pace than ever before. Often, this results in mischaracterized data and more data silos.  Since data governance initiatives deliver increased value over time, it is important to invest in a technology which adapts quickly to this ever changing landscape of data sources.  The choice of the right technical platform is critical for future proofing the data governance initiatives of an organization. A semantic approach to information management and data governance makes it easier to reconcile and standardize the data in a single, organized system.

A semantic system can help data stewards create new connections and relationships between data and add any information needed to describe it, document its sources and so on.  As a result, organizations will no longer have to rely on a few individuals who know what data sources a particular field in a report was derived from or how each department defines a term. In this new environment, all people who work with an organization’s data are far more empowered, resulting in faster, more accurate decision-making and timely action at every level.

As mentioned earlier, it’s important for everyone to be on the same page to develop a successful data governance program. Thus, a data governance solution should enable all key data stakeholders in each department to better understand and connect with each other’s data needs. Fortunately, making connections are at the core of semantics-based technology, which makes the semantic information management approach a logical choice for any organization.

Read more about the top five challenges in the evolving data landscape and our semantic information management approach to data governance in our latest white paper.

Learn more about TopQuadrant’s Data Governance solution.

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Data Governance for the Connected Enterprise,  Nov. 3rd, 11:30 EDT.