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Your organization is, or was, off to a great start by understanding the importance of data and its ability to produce better insights and results than your industry competitors. So why are your Data Governance efforts falling flat?
Let’s face it, even though your data governance program may have started in your IT/Analytics department, in this day and age almost everyone is capable of generating or transferring data in spreadsheets, saving files on network drives, laptops, and smartphones. Today’s proliferation of data expands well beyond the server room and data lakes. Although IT/Analytics supports your data needs as custodians, the business should know its data the best and be able to explain how supply chain, P&L results, and other business reports drive real business results. In many cases, your IT/Analytics organization should help the business by empowering end users to utilize technology platforms and enable self-service, rather than creating or managing data assets, terms, spreadsheets, and reports for departments. The amount of data a successful organization leverages on a daily basis should be exponentially beyond the capabilities of employees that support your IT/Analytics tools. When the lines of business are able to create and define their own terms and data flows in a system of record, they will be able to better realize their efficiencies (or inefficiencies) and solve their own business problems faster. At the same time, IT/Analytics can gain enterprise visibility into the use of data across the lines of business without becoming the bottleneck.
What about that imaginary “Easy” button that allows the installed enterprise technology to magically find, define, and understand the terms and business workflows? The reality is there are many great technologies that leverage new capabilities to discover data and tag terms to accelerate the heavy lifting of data recognition; however, at the end of the day, the bottom-up approach must be verified by the respective business owners and stewards. In many cases, unique business processes often become exceptions – requiring human interactions anyway. A growing company that wants to accelerate its profits and reduce its risks will often outsmart the structured environments that automation often relies on. Can any technology accurately detect dynamic changes in business workflows between business units, legal, privacy, compliance, HR, vendors, or suppliers? How is the flow of information recorded by your organization today to make intelligent decisions on how information should flow tomorrow? People are at the center of these business-driven decisions, and technology should be leveraged to assist in recording human processes, not solely depended upon for innovation or decision making.
If you’ve hired a consulting firm to assist with your resource or knowledge gap for implementing the program or supporting technology, your company shouldn’t rely on the third party to know everything about your business. In most cases, third parties want to sell technology and/or resources with no end in sight. Contracted assistance is good for driving quick results, but knowledge transfer to long-term employees, who are able to act in the best interest of the company, is essential. Data enablement starts at the core culture of an organization and is often driven down by leadership willing to make a commitment to becoming a “data-driven business.” Each employee or “data citizen” should learn the importance of cataloging, defining, and referencing business terms. Employees who understand how to find data they are authorized to use will enhance business processes and better protect sensitive business assets.
We’re all unique, but in many ways, we have a lot in common. Companies across many industries create data that may be unique to their business; however, it is still data. The data is created, used, stored, transferred, archived, and eventually disposed of (if retention policies are in place). Conducting ad hoc activities instead of consistently measuring progress against a framework reduces progress and loss of value. Leveraging a standard information governance framework allows the unique workflows, data types, personas, and use cases in your business to be tracked and measured for effectiveness. A centralized mechanism and body of governance allow your company to gain insights across lines of business for efficiencies, inefficiencies, risks, and capabilities.
The average person in any setting perceives the word “governance” as restrictive and controlling. The term itself may conjure bad memories for your business users from failed attempts to “boil the ocean,” or trying to catalog everything with no perceived business value in sight. What if the same program that is used for governance, security, and compliance can be used for profitability and efficiency? What if it was centered on helping your business transform the way it operates, with data at the center? That is data enablement driven by digital transformation. Think of ways to make your program more accepted by the business. Involve your People and Change, Organizational Change Management, Corporate Communications, and/or Human Resources teams with your digital culture change in order to increase adoption and make your program more successful.
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