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Why “Whack a Mole” Data Governance Doesn’t Work

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Why Whack a Mole Data Governance Doesn't Work

I recently spent a few days in San Diego at the annual DGIQ event. It’s always a great event to attend because everyone there really gets data governance and why it’s important. This year, we found that many people, although still early on in their journey, were looking to move their initiatives forward. Some were getting ready to prepare a business case, while others were looking at technology, like Collibra, to automate processes and empower data citizens.

During the event, I had the great pleasure of co-presenting with Brian Keil, Managing Director of Global Data Management, Charles Schwab. Brian has a great story to tell. Before data governance and the creation of the CDO, their data organization was largely IT-driven. The business complained about the problems with the data, but were not part of the solution. Many times, they took an approach that Brian calls “whack a mole” – it was entirely reactive.

The CMO recognized both the problem and opportunity with data. Schwab needed good, quality data to target potential new clients and better serve existing clients. Also, while not recognized initially, better leveraging data for business objectives also helped address growing regulatory interest in data management. In short, Schwab recognized that managing data as a corporate asset is not optional. Especially in Financial Services, this is a requirement.

Both of these factors led the firm to create the data governance organization, and appoint a Global Data Officer. At Charles Schwab, the data governance function is part of Marketing, signaling that the business is taking ownership for data governance. This changed the role of IT but didn’t mean they weren’t involved in the process. To be successful, Brian and his team knew that they needed a strong partnership with IT. And frankly, IT was thrilled that the business was finally taking ownership for data governance.

The role of the group was to become more organized around the process of data, with the ultimate goal of empowering their data citizens. For Brian, the idea of a “data citizen” really resonated because it connected the data users with their role. It enforces the idea of “responsibility.” A good data citizen not only understands the data, but also their responsibilities to keep data protected, accurate, and trustworthy. They also understand how it impacts others.

Brian knew they didn’t want to create process through Word or Excel, which is how they found Collibra. Brian and his team, in partnership with IT, went through an extensive RFI, RFP, and POC process to determine which data governance tool would best fit their needs and goals. They determined Collibra was a fit because it truly is a business platform for change that speaks to the business. With Collibra, the business can focus their time on applying their knowledge, not creating spreadsheets or attending another meeting.

At Charles Schwab, the data owner usually sits where the data is created. The data owner more often than not has responsibilities around the process of how it is created and knows the people who will create it. They are motivated to take ownership because it directly impacts them and their organization. They are not simply data janitors who clean up the mess of other users. They are true data stewards, driving data citizenship throughout the firm.

One last point about the presentation with Brian. He shared an acronym that they use at the firm – a mission for data governance, if you will. And I really like it.

Discoverable: I understand what data is available, including what it means and where it’s sourced

Accessible: I know how to and who can access the data and how to properly secure and retire it

Trusted: I know the quality of the data

Actionable: I can use the data to derive business value

That’s their goal: DATA. For all data citizens to have data that is discoverable, accessible, trusted, and actionable.

Brian and his team have achieved great things with data governance. To hear more about their journey, watch this interview with Brian and Collibra Co-Founder and CEO Felix Van de Maele.

Stan is the co-founder and CTO at Collibra and leads the global product organization. He’s responsible for product management and UX, Collibra’s Center of Excellence, and Collibra University, Collibra’s online learning platform. Prior to founding the company he was a senior researcher at the Vrije Universiteit of Brussels, a leading semantic research center in Europe, performing application-oriented research in semantics.