How Data Governance Enables Analytics and Drives Business Growth

When it comes to data, the first question isn’t whether you can measure something, it’s whether you should. What you can or should measure impacts what you can do as a business, potentially affecting your business model. Along with respecting regulatory compliance requirements and the privacy rights of individuals, it’s necessary to consider the business value of data. You can’t run a business if you’re unsure about data protection mandates or what can be measured. That’s why data governance must underpin the business model and strategy. It needs a seat in the executive suite.

The introduction of GDPR and other data protection regulations have forced every business to be aware of data privacy boundaries: What data can be measured and stored, and who has access? Data governance ensures only authorized individuals have access to specific data, with controls to protect sensitive data such as personally identifiable information (PII).

Getting it wrong has serious legal, financial, and reputational implications for your business. A strong legal team with data privacy experience is fundamental to understanding the risk and interpreting what laws affect your business. It’s a complex landscape with no single regulatory body and rules that vary from country to country.

There must be a specific group within IT operations, a data team, that ensures your business collects and stores the right information and controls accessibility. With those guardrails in place, only then can a data analyst or data scientist safely access and interpret that information to create business value.

The Benefits of Data Governance

Data governance delivers a straight quantifiable return on investment with improved operational efficiency and reduced business risk. For example, having employees searching through reams of data that have no impact on business outcomes is a waste of time and money. But with structured policies in place that determine who should have access to what data, you can avoid that problem. Plus, access to confidential information is carefully controlled, reducing the risk of costly data breaches and compliance failures while providing measurable financial benefits. Effective data governance also creates a competitive advantage. As a compliant business, you’re able to enhance your brand by building trust with consumers and partners.

Key Steps to Building a Data Governance Strategy

Comprehensive data governance must be planned and implemented as early as possible. Here are key steps to building an effective strategy:

Appoint a data champion on the executive team to lead the charge and incorporate data governance into your business.Build SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) data goals that add business value.Develop a data dictionary with a well-documented glossary of metrics for your business.Categorize and determine what data is confidential to reduce legal risk, improve operational efficiency, and build a competitive advantage.Establish privacy and governance policies to ensure you collect the right data at the right time and limit access to necessary individuals.Build infrastructure and systems to back up your policies along with the budget to support them.Base all infrastructure and data platforms on security to ensure data is used responsibly at all times.Communicate with the business. Data governance should be well understood by company executives and respected as a critical part of day-to-day operations.

Streamlining Data Use

Data access can be streamlined by establishing workflows that automatically route requests to the right people and instantaneously grant access once approved. This takes pressure off the data team, empowers data owners, and ensures everything is monitored and governed.

Preparing for the Future

Data privacy is complicated. Security will continue as an essential part of the data governance journey. Data governance must continually evolve in step with regulatory changes and new business opportunities. Subsequently, businesses should consider future scenarios, create a multi-year plan and shore up data protection defenses.

To achieve enduring success, companies must have the technology, people, and processes in place to support data governance, enable analytics, and drive business growth. Get your data governance program blueprint for the five components every data governance program must have, including pitfalls to avoid and six best practices to employ. Download the whitepaper.

Data Governance