Is Data Governance Dying?

by Ian Rowlands

There was a plaintive note  on LinkedIn recently from Jim Barker, Director of Data Management at Honeywell. You can see his link here — http://lnkd.in/bDyr__Y . He’s conducting a survey for on what firms are doing on Data Governance for a thesis he’s writing. Please review the survey and consider participating. What tweaked my interest was what Jim wrote, in response to the lack of interest he’s provoked: “Input on Data Governance – Is this area progressing or losing its importance … I made a request for input on what firms are doing in the data governance space and was disappointed in the number of responses.”

I have some concerns about the survey, but I agree with Jim’s basic premise that Data Governance is becoming more important than ever. But I’ve been seeing some changes in it’s place in the organization. The biggest thing seems to be a rearrangement of responsibilities between the business and Information Technology functions. For an increasing number of our clients it appears that Business is increasingly taking ownership of Governance, and I.T. is increasingly providing Data Management functions as a service to support the business-led initiative.

The shift I’m seeing is most visible to me, at least, in the banking sector, where a stream of regulatory requirements has increasingly sharpened the focus of Business Functions on the appropriateness of data and the  fitness of data for purpose. Basel II, Basel III and now — most markedly — BCBS 239 have made it increasingly clear that data governance cannot be the province of the technical folks. Accountability has to be with the business. That shift, in its turn is driving a rethink of organizational models that seemed to be settling into a fairly standard shape.   In particular, a number of organizations now have business functions that might be called things like “Information Quality” or “Data Quality” that are driving Data Governance — the name has changed, but the game’s the same.

There’s another trend that seems set to have a significant impact on Data Governance. As we have talked to clients, and potential clients, about what they’re doing with Big Data it’s clear that for many Data Governance hasn’t yet made its presence felt. We are trying to nudge people in the governance direction both because they will need to show accountability for Big Data driven decisions and because the ungoverned proliferation of assets will cause a dramatic growth in IT driven risk. As Big Data comes into the governance sphere of influence, that too will impact the shape of governance.

One thing that we are definitely NOT seeing is any reduction in interest in the technologies that provide the I.T. function with the Data Governance toolkit … metadata management, glossaries, reference data management, data profiling, data quality, master data management … they are all commanding continued interest.

So don’t worry Jim, Data Governance isn’t losing importance, it’s progressing … even if it’s changing and might look very different in a year or two!

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Ian Rowlands

Ian Rowlands is ASG’s Vice President of Product Management. He heads product management for Metadata and Application Management and is also tasked with providing input across ASG’s entire portfolio. Ian has also served as Vice President of ASG’s repository development organization. Prior to joining ASG, Ian served as Director of Indirect Channels for Viasoft, a leading Enterprise Application Management vendor that was later acquired by ASG where he was responsible for relationships with Viasoft’s distributor partners outside North America. He has worked extensively in metadata management and IT systems and financial management, and presented at conferences world-wide, including DAMA and CMG. 

  1 comment for “Is Data Governance Dying?

  1. Richard Ordowich
    May 19, 2014 at 8:30 am

    It’s not surprising the responses to this survey were limited. The survey is focused on master data management. Data governance is not MDM. MDM is a technology solution.

    Data governance continues to the driven by IT who are ill equipped to provide viable solutions to data that require an understanding of semantics, syntax, linguistics and philosophy. IT lacks the education and experience in designing data using techniques such as taxonomies and ontologies.

    The business is also ill equipped to provide data governance for the same reasons. We need a new breed of talent who are Data Literate to help educate and inform the business and IT to help them better design and use data.

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