Data Governance for Dummies: Part 1 (Business Requirements)

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When I think about Data Governance I would describe it simply as: Making the best use of your corporate data assets. Having some extensive discussion on the topic however, let me straight away into confusion about definitions and scope. Although originally this blog was supposed to describe some nice solution that I came across, I first need to explore the Data Governance context a bit more.

If you browse for Data Governance it is likely you get 16,8 million hits. As always you can start with Wikipedia: Data Governance is a quality control discipline for assessing, managing, using, improving, monitoring, maintaining, and protecting organizational information. It is a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.

Well with this definition in hand I browsed through the vast material available and concluded that Data Governance must be the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything", as defined in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy… And even better I seem to have done it for the biggest part of my life: from enterprise architectures via CRUD-matrices and fighting with accountants over signatures on to getting a user-id for my mail, everything is Data Governance. Gee, must I be good. For a neat glossary of what is covered, see the glossary of the Data Governance Institute (DGI).

After digesting this consultant's heaven I focused on such real life questions that many managers are facing today: Do I know where all my corporate data and information is? Is it securely stored? Is the right version kept? Can you get to it when you need it? Can only authorized persons get access? I admit a bit more down to earth but the more urgent for a number of reasons:

  • Non-structured data overload: most Data Governance methods and architectures' focus on the structured data kept in databases of business applications. But up to 90% of your relevant corporate information is contained in non-structured data stores. This includes the myriad of pdfs and the backbone of the personal archive: the mail system.
  • Mobility: more than 60% of your data is not inside your office anymore. Notebooks, PDA's, Smartphones, USB-devices store more original and copy company data and documents than you want to know. Ever wondered how your price list ended up on the internet?
  • Overload: we can't find anymore what we need. There are 50 copies of a document around in primary, secondary, archive, backup and mobile environments. Especially when working in groups we don't know anymore which version was the last, time stamps won't tell anymore.
  • Discipline: we are sloppy with our information. We need easy access also during our pub visit, hate passwords that expire, assume that there is a backup somewhere, or loose our USB-sticks. The distinct between data and information gets blurred.
  • Energy: more storage, more bandwidth, more systems management, more synchronization, more copies, still more printing. As a white collar industry we spend more energy than some traditional industries we want to ban. Green solutions are also required to control costs.

Since companies invest and lose substantial money around these topics, a complete industry tries to address individual solutions to overcome the above. Surprisingly enough I found that Data Governance theory is giving ample attention to these issues. What I see is that Data Governance has an "inside out" look based upon the idea of corporate contained data and is missing the "outside in" look of free floating corporate information.

Please share me your thoughts on this.

This blog is part of a series of blogs on Information and Data Governance:

  1. Data Governance for Dummies: Part 1 (Business Requirements) (this blog)
  2. Data Governance for Dummies: Part 2 (The Replica Data Security Solution)
  3. Master Data: Business Asset or Cash-flow Burner?
  4. How to beat the Master Data implementation challenge?
  5. Master Data Management and Information Modeling: End or Means
  6. Information Governance Solves the Challenges of IT Governance and Data Governance! Or?
  7. Reduce business complexity, and rise your EBIT!

Results2Match has a strong vision on successful business strategies.

This blog is written by Hans van Nes. Hans is a very experienced interim manager and management consultant. You can contact Hans by email.

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