Five Things to Know About Data Governance

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Data Governance is more than just keeping your company in line with regulations. It’s crucial to transforming any company into a data-driven culture.

Data professionals across every part of the ecosystem — including developers and data scientists — have a role to play in the intersection of data and governance. And although we often default to thinking about data as a strategic asset, it’s important to widen our thinking to incorporate governance; the “why” goes far beyond just steering clear of any regulatory issues. In fact, when approached proactively, governance has an important role in shaping and empowering the organization while improving the availability, use, and value of data for competitive advantage.

For context, consider that most analysts project the entire digital universe will surpass 44 zettabytes this year. This infographic from Raconteur shows how the amounts of data being generated and captured are only continuing to grow exponentially. Without a strong Data Governance program in place, organizations will struggle with the baseline tasks of gathering trusted information and organizing it to be readily accessed when they need it, in a way that provides value instead of noise. It’s crucial to set up a proper data framework with governance in mind now, since the longer a company waits and the more diverse data sources become, the harder it is to retrofit or re-engineer systems without losing valuable time and opportunity.

Organizations that commit to Data Governance will experience an enormous shift in how they analyze data. With Data Governance in place, increased amounts of data will be more readily trusted and made available to help shape decision-making. This helps transform more and more people within the organization into “data professionals,” which in turn changes the way work is done and moves the organization down the path to becoming a data-driven culture.

Here are five ways Data Governance can benefit you and your organization:

1. Know which people or applications are consuming the data.

Allow for multiple levels of governance in terms of user privileges and data access. For example, your VP of Sales may decide that all salespeople should be using the same analytics application, but individual users should only be allowed to see their own sales and opportunities. A key is making it simple for the IT admins to adjust these privileges and access controls based on changing business conditions and needs.

2. Identify, control, and record what data is being consumed.

This helps set appropriate privileges and identify gaps in data access and use. For example, there should be built-in capabilities to mask and/or secure personal or sensitive information as well as safeguards on what to do if an unexpected data type or incorrectly populated data field is encountered. There should also be the ability to simply incorporate additional data sources in the future, a very likely scenario that could include newer technology or data formats. Data Quality also comes into play here. Seeing where multiple users produce different results using the same set of data will help unearth either training issues for staff or areas where Data Quality needs shoring up

3. Maintain control of where and when users can access the data.

This is what many people think of as “classic” Data Governance, and it is still very important. Users must be connected via a secure connection like a VPN to protect the access and integrity of your data.

4. Set up policies to decide where data is being consumed.

For example, a policy could be only allowing consumption from within the same country that the data resides, or there might be a location component that only allows certain types of data to be stored in certain regions.

5. Understand why an application or person should have the right to consume certain data elements.

Addressing the “why” can also serve to ensure compliance for an audit. Keep an eye on upcoming or recent compliance standards. For example, with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), even companies that aren’t located in California need to consider the location of customers, partners, and vendors.

These best practices can apply to any organization and will help set up the organization for both the safe use of data and an increase in data use and value. Having a full picture of the value of Data Governance ultimately helps fuel the company with the key insights for growth.

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