Why Data Governance Is a Must for Enterprises
Companies are now at a point of inflection where they can leverage huge troves of data to run sophisticated analytics programs and grow business. However, for an organization to be able to leverage all this data in the most efficient way possible, establishing a clear governance protocol is the starting point. This governance protocol helps it to deal with issues that might arise from the various pools of data and the information it provides. There is data coming from everything and anything, and it is imperative to govern and channelize these well. Data governance is about establishing rules on all aspects of an enterprise's data such as its source, owners, validity, and security. Just as the subject of corporate governance arose out of necessity, so did data governance. Today, having a robust system of data governance is no more a luxury - it is an imperative.
Data is growing exponentially year on year. In fact, according to a report by IDC, data is doubling in size every two years. The report further goes on to state that "data that we create a copy annually will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes." A sound approach to data governance allows organizations to save time by knowing how and where to search for data that helps them.
Companies know that to be responsible stewards of data they must have a system of checks and balances in place so that their data libraries don't run amok. Being accountable for a company's data is a sign to stakeholders that the entity can responsibly manage the information it takes in and is up to par with the realities of the digital era. Enterprises buy data governance software that is designed solely for that purpose, or they might customize aspects of data management tools to perform such governance functions. But experts tend to agree that data governance goes well beyond just software. It begins and ends with people within the organization. That's why enterprises have formed committees entrusted with the responsibility of establishing data governance protocols. Hence, data governance is not about technology or tools alone, but it is also more to do with the people who are the custodians of data that define the lineage, authenticity, ownership, security, as well as leverage the data to derive insights. Humans must facilitate the software and take responsibility for implementing and upholding the governance policies of the organization.
Sound data governance is all about establishing the basic and required objectives, as well as policies, procedures, and standards to leverage data for making decisions. Ask yourself: When was the last time your company set forth defined objectives about what it wants to do with the data it receives? Who is the custodian of this data and what is the quality of this data? Answering these questions will get your company's CIO and CFO on the same page, at least to agree on the need for data governance and the issues with data management.
Another common perception or expectation in organizations is for their IT department to take responsibility for data governance protocols established by the system of governance or the committee. Like the software itself, IT is important for implementing the technological aspects that enforce the governance standards. But IT employees themselves are not enforcers of the governance standards. A data governance program has many stakeholders and overseers, including the various lines of business within an organization, application owners, third parties, data analysts and hence, it must be developed thoughtfully. It must be given enough time so that everyone is onboard with the defined protocol on ownership, authenticity, security, etc.
Yes, data governance is important and setting up a program takes time and effort. But it is all well worth it. Consider overall reliability. An enterprise and its stakeholders can better account for key findings, and a spirit of data ownership improves both the trust and confidence of the stakeholders parsing and reporting the data - externally and internally. Traceability is equally important. When a company establishes end-to-end data lineage, it enables better audit controls. Companies also become more resilient and responsive to changes through comprehensive impact analysis. And let's not forget governance vis-a-vis authenticity. Stakeholders want to consume data from authoritative assets that are certified for authenticity.
Without data governance, an enterprise cannot properly and responsibly manage its exploding data. And without proper management, the organization loses valuable, actionable insights that can give it distinct advantages over its competitors in an increasingly demanding marketplace. Again - having a robust system of data governance is no more a luxury today- it is an imperative.