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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Eight Ways Data Governance Builds a Positive Company Culture

Data governance isn't just about keeping your enterprise in compliance with regulations. It can benefit your organization in eight important ways.

Increasing amounts of data and its ability to support a competitive advantage has changed the way businesses function today. Enterprises can use data to improve operational efficiency, build brand reputation, mitigate risk and fraud, enhance the customer experience, and even boost revenue.

For Further Reading:

Do You Need a Chief Data Governance Officer?

How Data Governance Supports the Data-Driven Enterprise

The Imperative for Reimagining Data Governance

As businesses continue to ingest this data to generate massive amounts of intel, data governance has become paramount to help with data's availability, usability, integrity, and security. According to Raconteur, the entire digital universe is expected to reach 44 zettabytes this year. Without a program in place, organizations will struggle to glean the trustworthy information they need, when they need it, and in a way that provides value.

An organization that commits to a comprehensive data governance program will likely experience a seismic shift in company culture. Data becomes the focal point and business users realize that data is the key driver to support business goals. When this happens, organizations start to notice a wide variety of beneficial changes.

Fostering Cross-Departmental Communication

Effective data governance promotes an all-inclusive culture by creating a community approach to data. It encourages collaboration between data owners and data consumers, giving both business and technical users complete clarity into their data. This team approach to data understanding encourages cross-departmental information exchanges between IT and different lines of business, empowering disparate team members to work together defining and documenting data. With a team approach, staffs develop new skills, for example, business users learn basic data analysis skills while the IT department develops an understanding of how different departments operate. In addition, companies build consensus regarding data assets, which minimizes confusion and ensures appropriate data usage.

Meeting Business Objectives

Organizations have multiple priorities. Key among them is turning data into meaningful business insights that are supported through data governance. Increasingly, companies are implementing enterprise data governance and integrating self-service data analytics, minimizing reliance on IT for reporting and enabling business users to take an active role in data analysis. By educating business users about the source, use, and meaning of data, organizations can increase engagement in analytics to enhance business intelligence, expand productivity, save time, serve customers, achieve business objectives, and generate positive ROI.

Meeting Regulatory Compliance

Data governance helps organizations track technical data lineage to ensure regulatory compliance. Technical data lineage conveys data storage procedures, data combinations, and data transformation processes. By exploring these details, businesses can identify where personal or protected data may reside, learn how that data changes over time, and reconcile data inaccuracies to comply with regulatory policies and reassure users their data is safe and trustworthy.

Building Trustworthy, Reliable Data

Data quality helps eliminate data errors, encourages data use, and enhances data value. That is why data quality is now considered a core component of a successful data governance program. When business users have confidence in their data, they are more likely to use it for strategic initiatives and to improve operational efficiency. Trustworthy data helps craft a culture of growth, innovation, and industry firsts.

Creating Cooperation

A key component of every data governance strategy is building data catalogs, which require enterprise-wide participation and cooperation.

Data catalogs provide an audit trail for data by identifying data owners, stewards, and subject matter experts, instituting a culture around data so users know where to go when they have questions about information. As a result, any disagreements or conflicts about data are quickly solved because people within the organization know whom to contact with discrepancies or questions.

Enhancing Innovation

Data governance promotes stronger data management strategies to better inform business practices. When business users can quickly develop trustworthy and meaningful insights from their data, they can create new, customer-centric products and services to spur organizational growth. Employees want to be part of a growing business with a prosperous culture that encourages growth and innovation, which makes them feel like they're part of the greater whole. In addition, flourishing companies attract and retain top talent.

Strengthening IT Infrastructure

Organizations are often hesitant to move away from legacy data management tools and processes. However, businesses can't implement effective data governance with antiquated IT tools. Investing in modern, integrated technologies and implementing the appropriate training and oversight empowers employees to leverage data and also creates a modern IT infrastructure that mitigates technology failures in the future. When a company invests in the right resources, it creates a culture of continued improvement.

Increasing Productivity

With an enterprisewide data governance program and integrated tools, technology does much of the heavy lifting, freeing up time for everyone in the organization to focus on more important tasks. Business users can access and analyze data most critical to them more easily, allowing IT to focus on other high-value projects, opening up additional lines of revenue, and, ultimately, creating a modern culture centered around data.

As the business and technology landscapes rapidly change, turning data into meaningful insights becomes increasingly important. Data governance can positively influence company culture, enabling businesses to improve employee engagement, business outcomes, and brand reputation. Data governance can ensure a company's core values are more than words on a page -- rather, they define the organization.

About the Author

Emily Washington is the executive vice president of product management at Infogix, where she is responsible for driving product strategy, product road maps, product marketing, and vertical solution initiatives. Since joining Infogix in 2002, Emily has worked closely with product development teams and customers to drive introduction and adoption of all new products. You can contact the author via LinkedIn.

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