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February 20, 2019

Driving Business Transformation through Data Governance Strategies

Jeff Burk

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The CIO’s traditional role of overseeing an enterprise’s technology strategy and procurement is no longer straightforward. As the business world moves to a more decentralized technology model and shadow IT runs rampant, CIOs are no longer completely in control of technology within the business, the data it creates, or the security processes around it.

Gartner predicts that 50 percent of the data generated will soon be outside the corporate data center, generated by IoT applications and edge computing devices. As a result, CIOs must modernize their data strategy, ensuring it can seamlessly and reliably feed data insights from across the whole business into a technology strategy that will deliver digital transformation.

However, with new data privacy regulations and issues with data ownership and algorithmic bias, using data to drive insight is not easily understood. Data must be of good quality and be controllable and consistent to ensure that it can be relied upon to feed these technologies appropriately, to generate business value and inform decisions – that’s where data governance comes in.

Creating Data Governance Strategies

Data is a corporate asset. In order to use it for faster decision making, users must trust it. Data governance breaks down data silos from disparate systems across the enterprise and establishes a set of processes, standards and policies to make the data consumable enterprise-wide. An automated data governance platform quickly and securely delivers trusted data to the business users who need it to perform their jobs.

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Collaboration is key to successful data use across an organization. All business users need to know where to find the right data and have a common understanding of what the data means. The amount, variety and scope of business data available is growing exponentially, making it increasingly difficult to find, understand and trust, despite this being essential to deriving value from it.

Having systems in place — like a governed data catalog — enables users to understand data in business terms, while also establishing relationships and associations between data sets. To do this right, the CIO needs to collaborate with the chief data officer (CDO) to manage a data strategy underpinned by governance that delivers the right data into the right hands to drive business transformation.

As Gartner defines, CIOs and CDOs must support each other in delivering business, and neither can succeed alone. For data governance strategies to succeed, every business leader must have data in their DNA. The CDO is tasked with building these organizational practices and behaviors needed to orchestrate this foundational change to become a data-driven organization.

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To ensure the right data is in the right hands at the right time, organizations must work relentlessly to identify and reduce islands of bad data by moving rapidly to adopt agile data processes that enable the business to move quicker and be more responsive to internal and external data needs. Most importantly, they need to ensure teams are aligned to a common vision with a pragmatic path to driving the desired outcomes.

Data is making its way into nearly every aspect of the business and is the foundation of digital transformation. Governance efforts should be tightly linked to digital efforts. Looking deeper at technologies like cloud, IoT, AI and machine learning, it’s imperative to employ data governance strategies before organizations are able to fully embrace the full potential of these technologies. Data is often the biggest problem when implementing new technologies, and more and more, consumers are being impacted by data-driven decisions. Data must be correct and unbiased in order for technology to have the right impact. Flawed data only slows digital transformation.

For example, at Forrester’s inaugural Data Strategy and Insights Conference, we learned that AI spending is stagnant due to a lack of trust in the data feeding the algorithms. Data governance is a solution to this problem, providing benefits of data visibility and data quality – without implementing sound governance, there can be no trust in AI.

Digital Transformation is More Than a Buzzword

Creating a strategy around data is pivotal to a successful digital transformation. Buzzwords aside — organizations need to understand what they are trying to achieve from digital transformation and how it makes a difference in their industry and to their competitive advantage. They must then work this back to the technologies that enable transformation and the data that fuels the technologies, and implement data governance strategies that match.

Data governance needs to emerge as a separate entity within the business that helps organizations better maintain their data inventory, facilitate the use of data, improve data quality and exercise control over processes and methods employed by all data users across the business.

About the author: Jeff Burk is the senior vice president of engineering at Collibra, where he leads the global engineering group. Prior to Collibra, Jeff was VP, Engineering & Operations for Dell Boomi, where he oversaw all product development, including design, development, and site operations for Boomi’s cloud-native integration platform as a service (iPaaS). Jeff has also held senior technology roles at EMS, NextDocs, and The Neat Company. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. 

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