By Henri de Bruine, COO at Decision Inc. (Pty) Ltd.
In a world where technology terminology seems to hit trend and hype on an almost daily basis, data governance is joining the buzz word pack. It’s not exactly a glamorous term, but it offers immense potential, if the right boxes are ticked. There is a duality which surrounds it – one half around risk and compliance management and the other around the strategic value of data.
If you want to understand data governance, first you need to understand a few things that it is not.
- It is not something you can ignore. Data has become either an integral component of business or a tradeable commodity; you can’t disregard it. The competitive advantage has shifted into the digital space and, so success is dependent on ensuring you have a strategic vision for the usage of data and the proper governance of data as an asset.
- Data governance isn’t a chore. Asking the question as to how to gain an advantage in a market and increase customer experience isn’t homework for the corporate. It is a whole new set of practices which need to be applied to the business so as to leverage data and ensure it is of the highest quality. This allows for far richer and more effective business decisions over both the long and the short term.
There are the essential questions which need to be asked, and answered, so as to ensure that data delivers on its potential. Know where the data will be kept, what level of detail is to be analysed and stored, what framework needs to be put in place and whether or not you plan for prescriptive and/or additive analytics.
Similar to the Wild West where people had to forge new frontiers, so data governance is breaking its own ground. This is where the business needs to focus – where is the data coming from and what strategy is in place to manage and direct it?
It is also where the duality of data governance comes into play – alongside the rise of technology there is the rise of legislation which is putting the focus firmly back on to risk and compliance. For many organisations, it is seen to be something which has to be done because there is someone waving a stick, demanding everything be kept in line. And this perception needs to change.
- Data governance is not a grudge investment – it is an opportunity. If the business takes hold of the potential offered by data, they can leverage their environment and their decision-making far more effectively. They also won’t lag behind in a world which is being viewed through digital goggles and can create an environment which protects their assets, leverages their abilities and boosts their market presence.
- It is not being measured properly. For most organisations, data governance is not being measured correctly across all levels of the organisation and the sources all come from numerous divisions and silos. The only way the you can gain value is if you start to measure the performance more accurately, making data quality and data governance into key performance indicators. This will build an internal culture which is data-centric and data-aware.
The companies that get this right find the cost of managing data drops as they fix issues at the source, they don’t need to go back six months to figure out what went wrong, and they can potentially see what’s coming around the next unpredictable corner.
This is where the duality of data governance becomes a finely tuned dance. Everyone across the organisation is involved, ensuring it is done right and is compliant.
This is what data governance is – high quality data which reduces risks, improves accuracy and meets legislative parameters within a culture of data awareness and a commitment to its value and, of course, compliance.