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Data Governance in the Era of Heightened Regulation

Increasingly, people across the spectrum of organized human activity—from business to government—are recognizing the importance of better managing and governing their data assets. “Data is becoming an increasingly critical foundation of the economy and of our lives,” said Kevin Lewis, director of strategic offer management for Teradata. “The more this happens, the more important regulation will be, not just for privacy, but also for data quality.”

The increasing use of AI in areas such as granting mortgages, adjudicating insurance claims, and diagnosing medical conditions reflects how data will see greater oversight, Lewis continued.  “Companies do address data quality issues for near-term needs, but they may ultimately be forced to deal with the root of the problem, which is data proliferation.”

Katie Fabiszak, CMO of Riversand, calls it a “love/hate relationship with data,” borne out of an “organization’s ability to truly understand how they need to use data to reach their full potential.” For starters, she stated, “data needs to be viewed as on organization-wide responsibility.” This calls for looking beyond the technology aspect of data management, she continued. “What has gone wrong in the past is viewing data as something to just be managed by technology or systems. Instead, we truly need to make data ubiquitous throughout an organization.  For the past decade we have been talking about data being a strategic asset, but we haven’t really arrived there yet.”

The industry has been responding to the challenge of requiring more enterprise-wide data with solutions such as customer data platforms (CDPs). CDPs are considered a step beyond the current generation of CRM systems, which tend to be limited by their narrow focus on internal customer data. CDPs open up insights into a wide range of data sources, from IoT data to social media. A recent survey by Forbes Insights found 78% of enterprises either have, or are developing, a CDP that is a dedicated environment managed by their marketing organization and is separate from other databases or platforms. Forty-five percent already have such systems in place. Effective targeted marketing—“including cross-selling, up-selling, social media targeting, and so on—requires getting a better handle on customer data,” said Lewis. “Right now, most companies have at least some splintering of customer data in disparate systems, and getting a complete 360-degree view is difficult.”

Accessibility of data to the people and applications that need it is critical but could lead businesses astray if not of the highest possible quality. “Beware if data isn’t accurate but is still used to drive business processes,” said Fabiszak. “Take the HR on-boarding process—can you imagine if the new employee’s information was incorrect? That information would be shared throughout the organization leading to other issues. For example, if the Social Security number was incorrect, that could impact payroll systems and could have future implications on taxes and retirement plans.”

In addition, data security also continues to be front and center. The desire to build business value from data “means that more people than ever before need to be able to handle data—finding it, trusting it, sharing, and using it for insights that drive the business,” said Rob Perry, VP of product marketing at ASG. “At the same time, the more people that handle data, the more risks there are. Phishing attacks can lead to exposure of personal data. Creation of personal copies of data can cause misunderstandings and inconsistency. There has to be a culture of data responsibility—a pervasive concern for the ethical and appropriate use of data. Data governance plays twin roles. It can guide users to the best data to address specific business needs. It can also monitor potentially inappropriate data-related issues while controlling access and change, which maintains trust.”


There are both external and internal forces demanding accessible and accurate data. GDPR is the most obvious from the perspective of geographic scope of enforcement, scope of covered entries, content and information impact, and permeation into diverse industries, said Hiro Imamura, senior vice president and general manager, business imaging communications group for Canon U.S.A. This type of legislation isn’t limited to Europe. “California passed similar privacy legislation—the California Consumer Privacy Act or CCPA—that will take effect in July 2020, allowing businesses a 2-year window to bring themselves into compliance. New Mexico, Massachusetts, Washington state, Virginia, and Florida are a few other states enacting their own versions of consumer privacy laws.” There is a movement to enact such laws on the federal level as well, he added.

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