In the first of a series of columns, Kate Carruthers introduces the practicalities of treating your data right. 

Data governance is an increasingly important discipline for businesses to adopt. The words “data governance” might sound fusty and rule-laden, but it is important, because data is the foundation upon which every digital transformation rests.

Data governance is a practical discipline. It’s about managing data as an asset, and it asks the following important questions:

  • Do you know the value of your data?
  • Do you known who has access to your data?
  • Do you know where your data is?
  • Do you know who is protecting your data?
  • Do you know how well your data is protected?
  • Data is a key business asset, so every business needs to know the answers to these questions. This is where data governance comes in. It helps organisations understand who can make decisions and who ought to be consulted in respect of their data.

I use the following definition as an anchor when introducing business executives to data governance:

“Data governance is the organisation and implementation of policies, procedures, structure, roles, and responsibilities which outline and enforce rules of engagement, decision rights, and accountabilities for the effective management of information assets.”
— John Ladley, “Data Governance: How to Design, Deploy and Sustain an Effective Data Governance Program”, 2012.

Increasingly, businesses are moving towards using data and analytics in new ways. Data governance can help to identify where the data is, how it’s being managed, and who is accessing it.

Further, the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) means that businesses are accumulating ever-greater volumes of data, so the challenges of managing that data will also increase. Those challenges will become ever more important for boards and senior executives to understand.

Data governance also feeds into issues like digital ethics and privacy. As we venture further into the world of big data and data analytics, these issues will become more important as data starts to be joined up in new ways.

Next time we will delve a bit deeper into data governance and how it can help.