Data Governance is NOT a goal

Those of us who work in Information Management and understand the importance of Data Governance, can often become frustrated when business customers are unwilling to invest in it, or set it as a priority initiative. This article asks the question: "Do we actually WANT to explain and sell Data Governance to business?"

 

Those of us who work in Information Management and understand the importance of Data Governance, can often become frustrated when business customers are unwilling to invest in it, or set it as a priority initiative. Many of us have asked ourselves the same question at some point, "Why don't they see its importance?"

Well, I actually think we’re asking the wrong question. I think that the question should be: "Do WE actually want to explain and sell Data Governance TO business?" And I dare to say that the answer to that is NO.

Let me try to explain why, by briefly outlining how we have approached Data Governance from a completely different direction.

Our approach is based on the key assumption that we primarily build Customer Service for business departments that will provide simple and fast navigation to information assets across a company, its platforms and departments. This assumption helps us identify what aspects are critical and what sort of information we should focus on.

The cornerstone of our Data Governance implementation is Encyclopaedia (in a way, a similar solution to Wikipedia) which works as an online shopping window or e-shop for company information and triggers the creation of the Information Marketplace. This Market is NOT a place where information is physically located per se, - the information is still spread out across the whole company in a variety of formats and media. On the contrary, it is a place where the existence of information is only presented. Instead of holding information, the Market points to or navigates to it.

Encyclopaedia - The Information Marketplace then helps to identify the Information Community - people who care about, produce and consume information. An exchange between information consumers and producers defines the value of the information. When a consumer reads a report, s/he shows that a report has at least the value of his/her time. When s/he thanks someone for it, it appreciates even more. When a producer publishes a report, s/he implicitly declares an ownership etc.

This spontaneously created information market is transparent, measurable and has a clear objective - to connect information supply and demand.

 

Warehouse or Marketplace? Where would you go to get some stuff....

veg-market.jpg

But back to Data Governance, the key consequence of a transparent Information Market is that it naturally leads business users to the non-invasive and continuous adoption of good Data Governance practices, at a level that is actually necessary e.g. to allow business to understand the information world well, we need good metadata. Ency uses very basic things, like for instance, ownership leading to a change in information-related processes, to promote and create good Data Governance. It's not imposed, top down, but emerges spontaneously, in the manner of all good initiatives, from the bottom up.

 

Bottom Line

Data Governance should not be the primary objective. The primary objective should be to help business find quick and trustworthy answers. This is our goal and has always been so. In the process of removing barriers to already available information, we are demonstrating on small everyday things that practices such as the ownership of data have a real business value.

The devil is, of course, in the details. If this is a view that resonates with you and you feel like sharing some thoughts in this direction - welcome to the discussion.