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Steering Your Data Ship with Data Governance

We’ll save the discussion of valuing tangible and intangible assets for another time, but the distinction of data being intangible and not being technology is important because the typical way to fix a technology problem is via a hardware or software tool. While tools can make data governance easier to implement, there is no silver bullet technology or solution for data governance because data does not equal technology. The key success factors in data governance are in the definition and clarity of roles and responsibilities, business processes, communication, metrics, stewardship, not in the technology. (Tools do make it easier though.)

And as your crews continue to traverse the uncharted sea of data, here is a look at some emerging trends on the data governance horizon:

Data Governance as a Service

It seems everything can be transformed to a service. But that’s not exactly what we mean here. It’s transforming data governance into a shared service organization or support center for your company and focusing specifically on the service aspect. Consider how data governance can be of service to different business units across the company, recognizing that the different departments will have varying levels of need for support. Governance should be asking service-based questions such as, “What do you need data to do?” or, “What else could you be doing if you had the data to do it?” Essentially, “How else can data governance serve you?”

This is a significant change for many established data governance programs founded on the premise that data governance defines and enforces how data is managed and used throughout the organization, with a typically heavy focus on enforcement. Shifting to a service-based mentality or approach does not negate the need for rules and policies or the enforcement thereof. It just shifts the priority to being service and support first. This shift is critical to the future success of governance programs.

Data Strategy

While this could rightfully fall into the buzzword category, this one has a little more meat on its bones because of the word “strategy.” Everyone loves a good strategy. The trend here is that data strategy is no longer a technology conversation as a means to modernizing the data infrastructure/environment. The shift in conversation is to how can we use our data to improve our business processes or to create new business models that generate new revenue streams. In many situations, data governance has a seat at the table for this conversation. And, if not initially invited, it is absolutely appropriate to ask for an invitation or, if culturally acceptable, to pull up a chair on your own accord. Governance adds value by addressing elements of efficiency and effectiveness and provides a means to successfully achieve both.


This is where AI and ML come into play. Real time and streaming are part of the trend here as  well. The premise is, of course, how much we can logically program to analyze current conditions and trigger actions  based on defined conditions or events. The advancements in automation are vast, and the application of these technologies is rapidly spreading in data management and data governance. While it is true that data does not equal technology, it is important to understand that technology can make it a whole lot easier. Automation is certainly one of those places where technology could rapidly advance your data governance efforts. The beauty of automation in data governance is that it helps to free up your data subject matter experts to focus on more strategic initiatives. Look for data management and data preparation software vendors to highlight their new automation features—ones that you should definitely consider.

Corporate Social Responsibility

The importance, value, and responsibility of data and data management are rising quickly, especially when it comes to consumer data. Verbiage detailing data collection, acquisition, use, storage, management, and sharing is making its way to formal corporate social responsibility policies, statements, and reports. Consumers expect that companies not only secure and protect their data, but their interests as well.

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