Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Data Governance - A Lack of Executive Visibility

Data Governance (DG) lacks Executive Visibility.  Information Security, Privacy and Information Lifecycle Management get some play at the executive levels but not true Data Governance - that which encompasses all areas associated with safeguarding data and ensuring it is fit for purpose and available when we need it.  I believe that elevating the level of DG conversations from the IT Breakroom to the Executive Conference Room will allow companies to solve problems long thought un-solvable or too complex to address.

Many of the issues that face C-level executives today stem from a lack of governance at all levels of their organization - in particular in more ambiguous areas that cross functional boundaries.  It makes sense that organizations struggle with this.  Governance is often aligned with organizational structures.  This makes it much easier to understand and to implement.  However, in the case of Data Governance, those boundaries need to be crossed in order to be effective. 

Data Governance is a matter of protecting business data assets through policy and procedure - most often implemented in a manner which utilizes technology.  If you look at my Services Integration Model (previous post) you can see that some of the services are technical such as Data Architecture and Data Integration while others are functional such as Data Governance and Master Data Management.  Then, there are still others that are less easily defined.  Data Stewardship, for instance, can go either way - technical or functional, depending on the nature of the data being managed, the scope of that data and the specifics of the organizational structures in place for any given company.

At the end of the day, Data Governance is a cross-functional office that serves many masters and provides an array of services at all levels.  For the maximum effect, data should be governed at the highest levels of the organization.  To achieve this we, as professionals, must elevate the discussion beyond data stewarship, master data management and, even beyond "data."  We must all align ourselves to the mission of focusing on the organizational benefits we can deliver and bring the conversation from the IT Breakroom to the Executive Boardroom.

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