2015 Trends in Data Governance: “Cultural Execution”

2015 data governance x300by Jelani Harper

The most eminent trend pertaining to Data Governance in 2015 does not involve new tools, roles, policies, or strategy—although these facets of Data Governance are vital to implementing effective governance.

However, to maintain governance and ensure the aforementioned factors result in organized, quality data in a manner that is both traceable and accountable to specific parties, organizations must implement its protocols into their company cultures. According to Gartner:

“Successful digital business requires that an enterprise-level digital code of conduct is defined, aligned with business value and is taken seriously across the organization. Information advocacy, the cultural execution aspect of governance, is necessary to take the information agenda to the individual and enable the behavioral shift from awareness to action” (Judah et al, 2014).

Including Data Governance as part of company culture requires a newfound respect for this facet of Data Management that combines sustainable resource allocation, well-defined roles, and consideration for contemporary technologies including mobile, Big Data, and the Cloud that engenders reliable data quality. Many recent vendor developments can assist with trustworthy data that can reinforce governance’s burgeoning role in organizational culture.

Vendor Developments

Vendors are refining their capabilities and adding a host of new functions for Data Governance tools that enable them to align better with business objectives—a concept which is at the core of governance strategy. In addition to increasing business support, bolstering reporting and auditing capabilities and improving user interfaces, vendors are taking active measures to make governance tools more interactive. This trend will continue with features regarding sharing, feedback and other characteristics of social media platforms typifying new releases. Vendors are also adding analytics capabilities to governance solutions that complement their new, social media based look and feel. Many of these attributes were strategically designed to make these tools much more accessible to users who are not IT specialists, which helps to democratize governance and engrain it in company culture.

Stewardship

There have been two diametrically opposed views regarding Data Stewards in the past: these notions are that either everyone is a steward and must take responsibility for governance, or that there are allotted stewards according to domains, departments or function. The issue with the former is that as Gartner noted, “Many organizations recognize the need for information stewards, yet fail to establish these as bona fide roles allowing the rise of…stewards…on an ad hoc basis” (Judah et al, 2014); the issue with the latter is that it propagates the notion that governance applies to only a few people and reduces its prevalence in company culture.

What is emerging is a hybrid of these approaches in which there are stewards according to aforementioned stratifications in addition to an increasing awareness of stewardship and governance responsibilities on the part of all those utilizing data. This hybridization is effected by holding all employees accountable for stewardship responsibilities, yet leaving the task of enforcing those responsibilities to the designated stewards. Thus, all data users are aware of governance protocols while there are a mandated lot that ensure that these are consistently met.

Chief Data Officers

Whereas stewardship represents the nexus of what Clarity Solutions Group Chief Technology Officer Tripp Smith refers to as “programmatic Data Governance” and its manual implementation or adherence, the necessity for Chief Data Officers is growing with the increasing reliance on data driven processes in contemporary organizations. The collective nature of governance is realized by the formation of governance councils and the inclusion of the business for rules, glossaries, and metadata information. Still, the appointing of a Chief Data Officer not only helps to formalize the fact that managing and governing data is a priority worthy of impacting company culture, but also helps to provide a singular degree of responsibility for designing architecture, implementing infrastructure, and ensuring regulator compliance. InformationWeek revealed that:

“The demand for information governance will likely inspire cultural change. The industry once hoped that CIOs would assume this responsibility…but most of them have become more responsible for infrastructure than information. This leaves many businesses without a C-Level executive to own the data management function.”

Or, it is presents an opportunity for a Chief Data Executive to do so.

Mobile

The propensity to access enterprise data and integrate it with external sources remotely continues to increase, particularly with advances in Cloud Computing and Software Oriented Architecture. The myriad issues revolving around governance of mobile devices includes usage for both personal and professional purposes, the removal of enterprise data outside of its secure boundaries, and the monitoring of not only the assortment of tablets and smart phones in use, but the various channels through which employees access information as well. Regulatory issues pertaining to discovery also apply.

Accounting for these risks (which include both security and regulatory concerns) from a governance perspective includes regularly reviewing data on devices—a capability that is facilitated by any number of vendors —but more importantly, perhaps, creating checkpoints as part of governance measures specifically set up for mobile devices. These governance mechanisms yield insight into data movement from the enterprise to mobile devices, and can provide valuable information such as who is accessing data, from where, and for how long. The combination of these tactics can restrict the autonomy of mobile devices while underpinning the importance of Data Governance to an organization’s culture.

Big Data

Big Data will continue to proliferate to the enterprise across vertical industries in the coming year, a fact which will likely be influenced by the burgeoning Internet of Things which is adding approximately 300,000 new devices each hour. One of the primary challenges of Big Data Governance is accounting for data quality with the massive amounts of variegated data arriving at high velocities. Oftentimes, organizations are in positions in which they have to forsake data quality (which is one of the chief objectives of Data Governance) for expedience, which Forrester referred to as: “the trade-off between speed of insight and the quality of data for big data analytics.”

Organizations are able to minimize this tradeoff by focusing on data sources as a partial indicator of quality. More importantly, 2015 will see the continued merging of governance and data quality capabilities in offerings from Big Data analytics service providers and vendors, some of which issue reports and alerts to account for Big Data’s unique governance concerns.

Circumscribing Data Lakes

Data Lakes gained popularity in recent years due to the expedience they provided (bereft of data modeling) to analyze different forms of data, particularly those that are found in NoSQL, Big Data environments. However, their potential to eschew governance protocols will likely create a reduction in the scope and number of these repositories, which are most practical when used by Data Scientists for experimentation, analysis and construction of data models. Limiting the deployment of Data Lakes in favor of a enterprise consistent, well governed warehouse or databases reinforces Data Governance’s role in company culture.

Ethics

Another emerging trend affecting Data Governance is an increasing call to action for ethics related to digitization and Data Management in general. Much of this sentiment was initially founded upon notions of Big Data, privacy, and some of the more salient security breaches affecting consumer data in the past couple of years. 2015 will increasingly see the need to incorporate ethical concerns into governance policy. A Gartner report stated:

“The level of innovation in cloud, mobile, social, big data and digital business is so high that ethical debate is needed and governance practices need to adapt. As rules and regulations, typically, trail…technology innovation, so governance becomes more an issue of ethics than compliance” (Judah et al, 2014).

In some instances, ethical behavior regarding data usage and storage can assist in regulatory compliance. A proper code of conduct regarding the utilization of data by the enterprise and its employees will certainly help to solidify the role of Data Governance in company culture.

Second Nature

The numerous methods outlined above regarding the incorporation of Data Governance

as part of a company’s culture is part of a larger movement to actually change individual behavior regarding the deployment of data. They reflect a prioritization of data that willfully acknowledges its value as an asset—and one which becomes all the more valuable when it is consistent, trustworthy, and routinely impacting business objectives as well governed data does. The relationship between Data Governance and organizational culture is symbiotic: rooting governance in company culture reinforces the critical processes, roles, and responsibilities that ultimately help better the organization’s business.

 

References

 

Judah, S., Laney, D., O’Kane, B., White, A., Buytendijk, F. (2014). Gartner Prediction 2015: Information Governance and MDM will be foundational to improving digital culture. www.gartner.com

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