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If You Govern Your Data, but Nobody Can Find It, Is It Really Governed?

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governed dataAsk any business person in the world if they’ve ever struggled to find the data they need to do their job, and the answer will likely be a resounding yes. Finding data – and knowing it’s good enough to use – has been a problem since the first days of computing. And today, that problem is magnified by the sheer volume of data and number of data sources that live across your organization.

So why is finding data a constant struggle for business users? Simply put: there’s a disconnect in their organization. For data to have value, it must be usable. And for the business to use the data, they need to be able to:

  1. Find it
  2. Understand it
  3. Trust it

It sounds simple enough. So why do so many organizations struggle with this problem? More often than not it’s because there is a disconnect between IT and the business. IT often takes a bottom up approach to data management. They tend to view all data as created equal. They make assumptions about the data’s meaning and purpose (without talking to the business about what’s actually important), and they use highly technical tools to make it “available” to the business users. The result is often a hot mess of ungoverned dusty data warehouses and polluted data lakes that business users rarely, if ever, use.

The better approach is for business to take the lead prioritizing which information and data is most important, And for IT to work hand-in-hand with the business to understand their needs. By talking to the business, they can learn which data elements are the most important. That way, they can focus on governing those critical data elements first and making them easy for business users to find. They can put in place the right data policies and processes, and implement the appropriate roles and responsibilities, to ensure that the right people have access to the right data at the right time.

And while technology isn’t the only answer to this age-old problem, having a system of record for data and a governed data catalog certainly makes this process work better. Because when you have a system of record for data, coupled with the right governance processes and roles and responsibilities, governed data is easy to find. Everything works better: the business can find the information they need, know what it means, and trust that it is right. And that’s a thing of massive value for the business.

Simon is the Collibra Global Financial Services Market Lead. During his 20+ years of management consulting services experience at leading consultancies EY and PwC, Simon helped financial services institutions design and implement information and data governance processes to support internal, external, and regulatory reporting including BCBS 239 and CCAR.
  • Matt

    Great take Simon. This is how we feel at M-Files. http://www.m-files.com I especially like “The result is often a hot mess of ungoverned dusty data warehouses and polluted data lakes..”