What is Data Governance and Why Does it Matter?

More than two years back, The Economist, in an article titled, ‘The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data’, stated that data is now the most valuable resource in the world. And why not, when almost all the businesses across the world, are using data in some form or the other, to power their business strategies. Knowing what the customers want or like, when, where, and how, etc. has helped many businesses to finetune their offerings according to their customer preferences, and in turn benefit financially from this insight. Personalization is the need of the hour, and perhaps, the most important differentiating factor, where businesses are concerned. Simply put, reaching the right person, at the right time, with the right product or service, is the clincher.

This is also why AI and data science have become a hot topic across the world, and data scientists and analysts are much in demand. Data became the most valuable resource, only because businesses realized the immense power that it has to provide valuable insights that could literally change their fortunes. Data, therefore, became something very important; something that needs to be stored, safeguarded and managed properly, for any kind of loss, misuse, or manipulation, could also mean a lot of adverse effects, including that of reputation. The successes of many businesses depended upon the integrity of the data and the multiple insights that it provided through the various analytics. This gave rise to what is called as Data Governance.


Decoding Data Governance

The term Data Governance encompasses a whole host of things that cover the people, technologies, and processes, that are needed to manage the data of an organization. Data is obviously an asset, and therefore it needs to be correct, secure, reliable, and also accessible only to authorized personnel, for defined purposes. This is what forms the core of the Data Governance policies of any organization.

The aim of Data Governance is to put in place systems and policies that govern data in order to:

  • Establish clear usage rules (both internal as well as external)
  • Standardize its storage and administration (Best practices)
  • Ensure Risk Management
  • Reduce costs
  • Monetize or create value, out of data
  • Ensure interoperation and seamless communication

It is important to keep in mind that the Data Governance aims of each and every organization can be unique. It is fully driven by the needs of the businesses and their defined goals, regulations and compliances if any. As such, this needs to be thought through at a very high level and then internalized across the organization.

Why it matters?

Not surprisingly, Data Governance matters only because of the immense potential it holds to make or break businesses! When businesses build their strategies around decisions based on stories derived from data, they better be sure that the stories are true and reliable. The integrity of the data on which these important decisions are made counts for a lot. Also, consistency and uniformity in storing and consuming the data can streamline a lot of communications, both within and outside the organization. Also, this can lead to better synergies within various departments within the organization, and improve operational efficiencies.

With data breaches proving to be rather costly for organizations (who have been unfortunate enough to be in such situations), Data Governance also assures the safety and security of data. And it also means that any necessary regulations and compliances will also be met by default through transparent laid down procedures. Furthermore, it helps businesses to be proactive and reach out to their customers with appropriate offerings, and perhaps, also gain an edge over the competition.

Good Data Governance policies also ensure that the data quality is always accurate and reliable. In fact, this could also mean that the costs are reduced; or with the intelligent use of data, the data can actually pay for its upkeep, and may well become the most important and self-sustained asset, of the organization!


Author: Nandini Shanbhag