The Evolution of Data Governance

My very simple definition of Data Governance is: the management of data throughout its life cycle, ensuring it can be effectively found, accessed, and trusted by relevant stakeholders, secured against unauthorized access, and disposed of when appropriate. But how has Data Governance evolved over the past number of years?

Working with businesses on their governance initiatives over the 5 or 6 years, I have certainly seen some marked shifts. Early adopters of a data governance program were primarily motivated by regulatory compliance requirements. A great example of this is the BCBS 239 regulation titled “Principles for effective risk data aggregation and risk reporting”. At a high level, this regulation requires the largest financial institutions in the world to have in place strong governance around risk data aggregation and risk reporting practices and specifically to be able to prove the accuracy, integrity, and completeness of data used for risk calculations. Regulations around data exist within specific industries as well as across industries, and being non-compliant can result in steep fines or a halt in operations for an business. The security breaches which are so commonly reported on in the media also bring tremendous impacts to firms’ reputations.

What has been rapidly emerging as another driver for data governance is the need for effective self-service analytics on an organization’s full set of data assets (as well as external data) for all users within the organization. Data has been recognized as a valuable resource that allows companies to innovate and drive new business models. A data governance methodology and tooling can enable IT to work effectively with the business, to empower users in different business functions to leverage trusted data in an efficient, barrier-free, and safe way.

This is why I see more and more clients today looking to implement data governance programs, from retailers to higher education institutions to transportation firms. Compliance and risk management continue to be critical, with new regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, but more and more the conversation is around building a data lake, or agile analytics – Governance 2.0 if you will.

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