What is Data Governance?
Unlock true value of your data with a carefully crafted data governance framework
According to The Data Governance Institute, “Data Governance is a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods”.1 Simply put, data governance is a collection of processes, roles, policies, standards, and metrics that ensures the effective and efficient use of information, empowering an organization to achieve its goals.
We are living in an age of data where around “5 quintillion bytes of data is produced every day”.2 As organizations are transforming digitally, IT leaders are recognizing data as their most critical asset and adopting data-driven strategies to fuel digital transformation. In other words, organizations are using data for informed decision making to deliver better business outcomes, boost revenue and gain a competitive advantage.
However, boosting revenues and getting an advantage takes time, data quality often requires improvement, and many companies struggle to make the transformation into truly data driven enterprises. Data duplication, inaccuracies, inconsistency, incompleteness, and obsolescence can all affect data quality, with “poor data quality costing the U.S. economy a whopping $3.1 trillion every year”.3 In addition to dealing with poor quality data, many companies lack the optimal data infrastructure, such as a data governance framework that provides a fundamental imperative for the modern data-driven business, and they struggle with using data silos.
It’s not uncommon for the terms “data governance” and “data management” to be used interchangeably. Although both are an integral part of a data-driven organization, they are separate entities.
Techopedia defines data management as “an organization's management of information and data for secure and structured access and storage”. Data management involves the collecting, organizing, protecting, and storing of data to analyze for business decision making. Data governance helps address the policies, procedures and standards around that data to help produce superior quality, security and compliance across the organization.
In the “Definitive Guide to Data Governance”, the author argues that “data governance is not optional”5 and that “an effective data governance strategy provides so many crucial benefits to your organization that it’s hard to live without one”.5 Data governance offers plenty of other measurable benefits to your enterprise in addition to helping it understand the value of its data, manage data risks and streamline data management processes and costs.
The author expands that data governance offers the following benefits:
According to the “Definitive Guide…” author, “data governance offers a consistent view of, and common terminology for, data, while individual business units retain appropriate flexibility”.5 It also “creates a plan that ensures data accuracy, completeness, and consistency”.5 This improved data quality helps enterprises to understand, trust and access data that matters, reducing misuse of data and enabling them to make better and accurate decisions with confidence.
The “Definitive Guide…” author notes data governance helps you to “understand the location of all data related to critical entities”. This capability is required for data integration, and functions similar to “a GPS [by representing] a physical landscape and [helping] people find their way”,5 improving accessibility and business outcomes.
By establishing a data governance framework, an enterprise is essentially given “’a single version of the truth’ for critical business entities [and] can then create an appropriate level of consistency across entities and business activities”.5
Compliance is a tricky, thorny subject that companies worldwide need to deal with. Data protection laws are constantly changing and evolving with their corresponding technology. In addition to risking data loss or damage from things like cyber attacks, adhering to regulatory frameworks and data protection standards helps to minimize loss and damage, along with any damage to an enterprise’s finances and reputation.
The data driven world is often highly automated, and data governance instills “a human dimension”5 into it, creating “codes of conduct and best practices [and helping] the concerns and needs beyond traditional data and technology areas [get] addressed consistently”.5 With robust data governance, companies can adhere to such demands of government regulations and protect their mission-critical data.
The “Definitive Guide…” author states that “a data governance framework ensures data is trusted, well-documented, and easy to find [and] that it is kept secure, compliant, and confidential”.5
Data governance is more than just data protection and control. It is the strategy that allows you to make the most out of your enterprise’s data and drive business results. Elements such as creating a culture that values the importance of data governance and providing realistic and outcome-oriented use cases, engaging the right people to take governance initiatives and upskilling them with proper tools and technologies all help your enterprise to embrace modern data governance policies and processes and make the most of them.