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Steering Your Data Ship with Data Governance

With the expectation that the sea of data will only get bigger and perhaps rougher, it only makes sense to batten down the hatches and put the albatross at the head of the ship. For those not familiar with the ancient mariner and to be a bit more direct—it’s time to formalize data governance and position it as a directional lead in supporting key business initiatives.

As you steer your data ship, here are a few points to consider based on common challenges or misconceptions.

  1. Be wary of buzzwords but also be ready to use them to your advantage when necessary. There are many new, exciting data-enabled (and enabling) concepts and technologies being promoted and shared every day. AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning), streaming data, IoT (Internet of Things)—the new shiny objects that capture everyone’s attention—especially executives. But, as promising as these technologies are, most folks have little to no idea as to what it takes to operationalize them or, in some cases, what they even want out of them. To many, just the idea of the latest and greatest sounds fantastic! The beauty of the emerging technologies is that they do capture attention with very little effort, so when you need to lure them in and get them on board for your broader data governance efforts, lead with an emerging technology that your governance program can enable. You are sure to hook ’em. (Like the subtle nautical references, there?)
  2. Create more space for cooking. Willing participation in data governance is on the rise. Recognition for the importance and value is becoming clear to the masses. This sounds euphoric or an ideal state for what we have wanted for so long. But, we must be careful with what we have wished for. Often, people say that increased participation is similar to having too many cooks in the kitchen. And it is. But that doesn’t mean you need to chase away the new cooks or the old cooks for that matter.

As you grow, it may be time to consider adding new kitchens with specific focus on areas important to your organization such as data domain or cross-functional business process regimes that spread out the governance efforts. As the participation increases, your program will need to more clearly delineate engagement/interaction models, and responsibility assignment matrix charts will need to become more detailed.

  1. Dispel the myth that data equals technology. For most, because data is created, stored, integrated, and manipulated by or on technology, it is a generally accepted that data is technology. Data is intangible and is difficult for the average human to wrap his or her mind around the lack of its physicality. The closest thing to make it tangible for the human mind is to consider data technology—a server, a file, a storage component.
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